Opinion

Social Distancing and the Test of Tech

Photo Credit: The Muse/Pinterest

The forced circumstances from COVID-19 could change societal norms

Joy Fan, The Mike Staff Writer

With governments around the world advising or demanding that people stay home, people have had to adapt in whatever ways they can. 

The response to COVID-19, while not as swift as some may have preferred, has nevertheless been drastic. A few weeks ago everyone was going about business as usual (though masks were beginning to pop up more and more) and profs were reassuring students that it was safe to come to class — then suddenly, everything stopped. 

The streets cleared. Classrooms emptied. Libraries closed. Residences began evicting students.

Suddenly, I began to receive what felt like a dozen emails a day, and all of them are ones I know I must read. Lectures moved online. Essay deadlines pushed back. Bb Collaborate. No lectures, just discussion boards. Suddenly, I found out what meetings I could have done online, or just gotten an email for. 

Quickly, it became apparent how advanced our technology is. 

Yet meeting in person is like reading a good book. A physical book. It’s just not quite the same on a Kindle. You never noticed how nice it was to sit in a classroom until you couldn’t. Simple things become simple luxuries.

I will admit that having the option for more online courses — especially for large lecture-style courses — would be beneficial. It would make some schedules less overwhelming, and while it puts more emphasis on discipline and self-management, that’s the general trend of university anyway.

Moving things online would probably just mean fewer people would get sick in general. There would be no more internal conflicts of being somewhat sick but also not wanting to miss class. As our generation becomes the next generation’s professors, I anticipate that much more learning will be online.

People will grow up with more and more technology, and having it more deeply ingrained in society seems like a plausible progression. 

I stay in my pajamas all day these days. It’s sad and a little suffocating at times. But in other ways, I’ve become exceptionally productive. I’ve worked things out in my own mind, away from the world. 

Conducting more of our lives online has become a reality. It has also become apparent that a continued reality like this, beyond COVID-19, is realistic. More work can be done from home, which can mean wonders for future parents, especially women, who often have to choose between furthering their careers and having a family.

Technology is developed to better our lives. If that means greater accessibility, greater equality, greater opportunity, and greater productivity, then I’m all for it. But I’m not quite sure that technology will be able to fully replace the feeling of in-person interaction quite yet. 

Ultimately, the question is when it will happen rather than if it will happen.