Chrissie Faenza

Beyond the Screen: COVID-19 and the forced digitalization of our lives

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Around this time last year, leaders in education and business organizations were scrambling to adjust their plans

Chrissie Faenza

of action amid the quickly spreading COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.

A few months into the pandemic, many of them finally found their footing through the internet, initiating this rough, but urgent transition from in-person to remote activities.

Now, more than a year later, it’s the norm. We’re finding comfort in having the bulk of our lives exist through a screen. 

Anyone could see that the pandemic has led us to dramatically increase our overall time spent online. The internet has now been integrated within every minute of our lives for over a year. However, an increase in presence follows an increase in dependence.

According to a survey conducted in April 2020, 87 percent of U.S. adults said the internet had been “important” for them personally during the outbreak, and 53 percent said the internet had been “essential” for them personally. 

About half of adults said that a sudden interruption in their internet during the outbreak would present a “very big problem” in their daily lives.

When you take a step back and look at how we’ve changed over the course of a year, you’ll realize that yes, this is quite terrifying. It’s hard to even tell if this forced digitalization of our educational and professional lives has been generally more beneficial or detrimental. 

This is where we need to consider this question: is this pushing us forward or setting us back?

Thinking of it in the terms of “pushing us forward,” we’ve learned that we’re capable of moving our entire workspaces remotely with the help of the internet. We can build a team solely over Zoom or Google Hangouts and manage projects and tasks through a variety of communication platforms. There’s no doubt that it’s efficient for everyone involved. We also see efficiency in costs–eliminating transportation costs, time costs and so on. The pandemic has allowed us to abruptly advance our processes with the help technology–which is, overall, great.

Because this advancement as a result of the pandemic seems so great from afar, the ways that it is setting us back are easy to overlook. 

The internet now has the bulk of our lives in a chokehold. We were given little to no choice but to be dependent on the internet and technology if we wanted to learn or provide for ourselves during the pandemic.

 And since we’ve become increasingly dependent on it, there is a connotation that if our technology fails, we fail. Our stability is being sustained by tools developed not even a decade ago.

Although one could say we’re advancing significantly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the harm of this could most definitely outweigh the good.

Yes, we’re advancing, but at what cost? Our online and technology dependencies are only worsening with this pandemic, and it is taking, and will to continue to take, a serious toll on us.

One year later, I wonder more and more about our future post-pandemic. Will we leave this pandemic the same way? This pandemic-induced digitalization could change the face of our lives for good. What’s going to happen to schools and workplaces? Will a remote option be available for the rest of our lives? Who would want to return to normal with the convenience of discovering the wonders of technology in workplaces and schooling systems? 

The benefits coming out of this are strong, but we have to remember that if our technology fails, so do we.

Our growing dependency on the internet isn’t worth it.

 

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