The new year is upon us, yet we are still exhausted from the waves of what last year brought: a virus and what seems like endless lockdowns. Countries across the globe have gone on and off with lockdowns considering the horrifying effects of the virus. Putting aside the world welfare these lockdowns have given us, one of the more evident human impacts it has had on our lives still stands to be our digital dependency on the internet.
I’ll Find it on Google
With the stretching days turned into weeks of lockdowns, we have turned our entire focus towards the internet. And why wouldn’t we? It gave us a social life, an entertainment circle, a 24/7 streaming service, and a bit of insomnia – but I guess we can overlook that.
It wasn’t that these commodities weren’t being used enough before, but rather they were being used to capacity. Even now, with who knows which lockdown is being extended until when, digital services have exploded into a fire that isn’t going to fall back anytime soon.
People turned to becoming YouTubers, being amateur anything-you-can-learn-on-the-web gurus, and hardcore critics of practically anything worth a damn reviewing on the internet. Fads came and left, pulling more people in with each trend and leaving them more dependent on the internet than ever before.
A New Normal
It’s been universally acknowledged that even when this is all over, things are never going to be normal again (well technically, whatever we called our “normal” before the pandemic). While there are some positive changes for the world to keep continuing, that’s not exactly what makes this article write itself now, is it?
The scientific community did all kinds of studies looking at the social impact of lockdowns and digital isolation on people, and it wasn’t hard to deduce that we all were becoming more isolated, lonelier, and more distant from the physical reality we had come to live and love all this while.
Although the truth stands that one day this nightmare will pick up its bags and bid us a well-deserved goodbye, the question will remain: will it be enough to piece together our lives into what it used to be and end this lifeless quarantine?
While those more optimistic swung a line of videos, hacks, tips, and good news toward the society, it didn’t do as much good as it set out to achieve. Their efforts, though commendable, were still struggling to break through the barriers of seclusion that lockdowns had imposed on us. Although the truth stands that one day this nightmare will pick up its bags and bid us a well-deserved goodbye, the question will remain: will it be enough to piece together our lives into what it used to be and end this lifeless quarantine?
The whole debate around free will versus determinism has been around for centuries yet there is a sort of new-age element that may just prove that neither of them is as important as the web. In retrospect, the internet has never been more prevalent, more consuming, and more power-hungry than it is right this minute.
Just take a look at how web services are capitalizing on the fact that lockdowns have left us looking at nothing but them. Streaming sites have had record-breaking numbers, video-calling services have revolutionized their systems, and social networking sites have just attained eternal bliss. And what of our social impact, you may ask?
Just one word.
Though this may not be much news to all those critics of new media, the addiction we see today have really crossed some limits, even for us tech-savvy people – not that we aren’t part of this group ourselves now. Articles have stated the effect of overusing media again and again during these trying times and have spoken out about moderation in use emphatically. But, whether or not the world will come back from its spiral into media overdose or keep reeling into it is a question that remains unanswered yet.
Glass Half Full
Despite the terrifying truth behind media addiction, social isolation, and the obvious mental health impacts of lockdowns, we have to choose to turn ourselves into a brighter future. With vaccine drives underway in most countries and a new hope brewing for things to settle down just enough for us to consider this is over, the next steps seem a lot more optimistic even for most pessimists.
Though these lockdowns have caused a great deal of anguish among the people who’ve lived through them and still continue to, we shouldn’t fail to acknowledge the joint effort in creating an antidote for our community to catch a break we deserve. So, if the lockdown still reigns over you, just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will the virus-free world we need right now. So wait, be patient, and watch something fun on Netflix. We’ve got the time anyway, might as well just use it for something worthwhile.
PS: I recommend ‘Death to 2020’.
Cover: Solen Feyissa