Virtual Lifestyle: The New Reality
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
21st January 2020
My alarm rings, I wake up from my slumber, get ready hurriedly, and rush to the college for my 9:30 Geography lecture with no time for breakfast.
15th September 2020
It’s raining outside. I wake up, check my class WhatsApp group, ‘login’ for my class, and then wash my face, yes, in that order. After that, I head towards the balcony with my laptop to enjoy the weather while having a king-size breakfast… and in some time I doze off again!
If 2020 had a tagline, it could only be that change is constant. Our lifestyle epitomises that. Who could have thought that our workplaces would get converted from a 60-inch table to a 16-inch laptop screen! One could see how the virtual blended into our real-life leaving no distinction between the reel and real!
As the world faces a pandemic where every human and thing could be contagious, maintaining distance has become the new normal. Tables turned unimaginably within months (or to be more specific overnight, on the eve of 22nd March).
From attending classes online to music concerts, the pandemic witnessed all sorts of possibilities of the internet. The exuberant crowd, enthusiastic faces, vividly dressed people are now just attendees with cameras off and mics muted behind the screen. This virtuality almost banished the concept of an audience otherwise necessary to boost the confidence of the performer.
Moreover, who would have thought that the ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’ could take place without hustle and bustle where even the bride and groom could be seen taking vows through video calls.
The shift to virtuality was the only option to continue life amidst lockdown, but now it is moulding into a new era. This could be best observed in online education and work from home.
The institutional infrastructure has seen the most sudden and dynamic transition. Technology and mobile phones, once bugbears for teachers, now are the successors of traditional physical teaching. To our surprise, even laboratories, practicals and field works have also managed to make their way through the blue light.
Numerous academies and universities are now offering online courses which is a great opportunity for any age group to gain knowledge in any field. This has enabled a large group of people to educate themselves who earlier faced financial or social barriers since most of these courses are free of cost.
Work from Home:
This is probably one of the most heard terms lately. Almost all businesses and jobs have welcomed the new culture of working from home and other remote places. Rendering flexible work hours and the comfort of home has enhanced work performance. Because of the quarantine, work from home has been a boon for busy bees who otherwise lacked the family time and had a paucity of time when it came to their hobbies. Who wouldn’t enjoy walking their dog instead of commuting for work! This culture not only boosted sales and e-commerce but also provided a kickstart to numerous small businesses. People and entrepreneurs now find it comforting to work within their personal framework.
The virtual world has enveloped almost every sector and though there are positive aspects about it, there are certain negative aspects as well.
With an ongoing pandemic, an epidemic of mental distress has also made its way:
· Excessive internet usage has made people more anxious and depressed. Over fantasising and losing the sense of reality has made people feel more lost.
· A lot of people are surfing the internet for their symptoms which do more harm than good like Dr. Mathew mentions "Generally, it's not a good idea to research your health symptoms online because the final outcome is a lot of unnecessary anxiety and worry. My overall advice is not to research your symptoms, but to see a doctor first,"
· The absence of physical meets reduces the degree of trust. It could be observed among teachers and students and between employees.
· Studies suggest that the lack of person-to-person contact has increased loneliness, depression, and many other mental illnesses.
· The flexible hours and pressure to hustle all day long are overloading people and increasing their stress and burnout.
· Spending plenty of time on smartphones and computers is disrupting the sleep patterns. The radiation from these gadgets blocks melatonin secretion- the hormone responsible for sleep.
· A phenomena called ‘Problematic Internet Usage’ stated by experts include the habit of obsessively checking social media or updates and prompt replies to emails as well.
· Though social media provides a platform to form new connections what it is now doing is making one lose touch with their family and friends.
by - Dikshita Choudhary
graphic by - Soumia Gupta