“We are living in unprecedented times” is a phrase no one has been shy of saying over the last few weeks. And while yes, this is true, it’s not much help in distracting or reassuring us when it comes to having to adapt to social distancing or self-isolation for the foreseeable future.
But have we ever really not lived in unprecedented times? Everyone reading this has lived during one of the most developmental eras ever. In the last 100 years Earth has undergone faster changes - for better or worse - than any other time period and none of them can be compared to anything before, because, predictably, we are only getting smarter with our increased exposure to new information. If the Earth’s lifespan was condensed into a year; the human race would have been here for the last hour, and what an effect we have had in that short time. Everyday we break a new milestone in population, inventions and creativity - in fact PRB reckons that by 2050 about 113 billion people will have lived on Earth - and who knows what new invention we’ll have adopted by then.
The digital revolution, whilst many are quick to point out flaws, has been one of the most interesting and rapidly advancing times to ever exist. We have instant access to knowledge, games, music and social tools at our fingertips, which has made our lives a lot more bearable over these challenging few months. HouseParty quickly rose to popularity; people are calling their Grandparents more than ever; community spirit is soaring thanks to online groups, and thankfully musicians are still able to stream their music and sell merchandise and downloads. Although this virus will have a huge knock-on effect in almost everyone’s lives and the industries and businesses, it’s important not to focus solely on the negatives.
No doubt almost anyone who spends time online has also noticed the decreasing competitive nature of social media too - an incredibly detrimental and negative side-effect of social cyberspace. As Josh Constine puts it; our communal refinement to our houses has eliminated all possibilities of status symbol content, making validation and showing off (and the FOMO that accompanies it) things of the past - indeed, we are living in the present more than ever before. This isn't to say it won't return, but it does temporarily level the playing field of our lives.
As for those lucky enough to own gaming equipment like Virtual Reality, they can literally escape the confinements of their kitchen to live their dreams in alternate universes. Take BeatSaber’s rhythm-slicing space game where music, space and lightsabers are combined to provide some outer-world exercise and entertainment for which you don’t even need to leave your living room. Alternatively, if you fancy taking a gander somewhere other than your garden or street, you can wander through forests, visit world-famous waterfalls and landmarks, or leisurely climb mountains via National Geographic’s passive adventuring app. The list goes on; the virtual activities are endless.
Let’s not forget the speed at which we learnt and reported the growing information of the virus - we would surely be looking at far worse statistics had it not been for instant reporting and state of the art medical technology. We can communicate our knowledge and spread our love and support for one another across the globe in a matter of seconds. People are using this time to learn new skills via the plethora of YouTube videos available; companies have uploaded online courses for free, and with each second we are becoming more and more creative with our time - whether this involves technology or not.
The point of this article is not to negate the depressing impact of this pandemic. It is to instead pay a little homage and gratitude to the technology, and the inventors of said tech, that made our increasing sociability and community spirit possible during the Coronavirus pandemic.