Connection in Isolation: How the internet is keeping us together during the COVID-19 pandemic
It’s hard to remember a time when we weren’t all digitally connected. Since the year 1983, when Tim Berners-Lee first invented the World Wide Web, the internet has slowly evolved into a valuable resource. While the internet has never really been able to replace in-person human interactions, it has certainly become an invaluable tool for maintaining connections, linking us to friends and family across the planet.
The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched to all corners of the Earth – something that modern society and advanced technology, through faster and more affordable travel, has ultimately made possible. People across the world are suddenly experiencing the same global crisis, but, for maybe the first time, our advanced digital technology is giving us the ability to connect and share this experience worldwide.
Even if you live next door to your parents or your closest friends, isolation is key for preventing the spread of this virus. So, not only are we all having the same shared experience worldwide, but we are all suddenly away from our loved ones – as if everyone abruptly moved cross-country. And in this shared and stressful experience where we cannot physically touch each other, the internet may have become a fitting stand-in for human contact, a necessity to keep human beings connected in this unique time of disconnect and separation.
Video chats have already gained popularity in recent years, but in this socially isolated time, they have really taken off! Now you can connect with your family and friends whenever you like, be it on Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, Facebook, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Houseparty and countless other applications entering our vocabulary daily. These video chats can help us do the things we used to do outside of our homes – fitness classes, school lessons, church services, etc. They have also given us a unique peek inside of our co-worker’s lives – how clean their house is, how cute their pets are, and how loud their partner can be.
But what if you don’t want to just chat? Well, in addition to talking to friends and family, you can actually play games with them online. This goes beyond what we think of as typical online gameplay; online party games, like Jackbox Party Pack or Houseparty, and your favourite board games are exploding in popularity online (Code Names, Settlers of Catan, Dungeons & Dragons, and pretty much any other game you can think of). Our team at Notch has even got in on the action – with biweekly Thursday night pub quizzes from the comfort our homes. The only things potentially standing in the way of your ultimate game night are bandwidth problems and time zone differences.
And if you decide that games and chatting with friends and family is too much for you? Well, you can watch other people do things instead. You could watch cooking shows from Jamie Oliver’s kitchen, talk shows from hosts’ front rooms, and if you want to get in on the action you can even participate in Taskmaster at home.
Despite the fact that the majority of us are currently apart from our friends and family while doing our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we needn’t stay completely isolated. So, go ahead and video chat, play games, tweet, make videos, sing songs, clap, dance, exercise, bake and share. Stay connected and don’t forget – you may be in isolation, but you’re not alone.
What have you been doing to stay connected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?