How technology is connecting us with others while in self-isolation
By Jill Meagher, Contributor
COVID-19 has shut down the world.
As schools, businesses, restaurants, sporting events and certain health facilities have closed, people have returned home to quarantine with their families, being warned that any and all group activities are extremely frowned upon and gatherings of 15 or more people are not permitted in Alberta. So, how can we stay connected with those we love while being apart?
If there is any bright side to the timing of this virus it is that it’s happening in the 21st century. Technology is at its highest point and currently is the only safe way to communicate. Social media has become its own form of communication as billions of people go online daily to stream and connect with others.
Outlets such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and most recently, TikTok were already common before the pandemic, but have become even more popular as the world flocks online to get news, entertainment and physical activity. Even trainers have made easy-at-home workouts and challenges that can be done without gym equipment to help people stay in shape while gyms have been closed down.
But maybe most importantly, as our world continues to rapidly change, social media continues to be one of our only avenues to connect with others when we can’t physically.
Kyle Engle has been quarantined in his home for the past week as he had just returned from Mexico. He knows more than anyone the impact that these outlets have while stuck at home.
“Social media gives me a sense of normalcy during these challenging times by helping us stay connected with one another when we can’t be physically,” says Engle. “I’m able to stay in touch with friends and family through online conversations and stay up to date on current events. In a sense we are substituting physical touch with a virtual touch. It’s keeping us all sane.”
Celebrities have even taken this time to bring awareness to COVID-19 and the many charities that have been put in place. Long awaited concerts, to fans’ disappointment, have been canceled, but Instagram features like live streaming have allowed artists to perform quarantine concerts and connect with fans around the world.
Similarly, the virus brought all schools to an abrupt stop. Whether you were in middle school, highschool or postsecondary, there was not much time to say goodbye to friends. Graduation and other year-end activities have been postponed and, for graduates, that’s a heartbreaking pill to swallow.
Thankfully, apps like House Party, Skype and Facetime have allowed for a sense of normalcy. Although it’s nothing like being in a dorm room or hanging out on campus, they offer face-to -face contact with the ones you miss most.
The biggest challenge for students and educators, though, is the task of finishing off the school year. As teachers transition to online classes, students are tuning in via Zoom and Google Hangout meetings. Professors can still teach and assign work, as well as see who is still showing up for weekly lectures.
Kassidy Marshall is a full time student at the Canadian Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine. For someone who can’t afford to fall off her strict five-year schedule, she’s beginning to feel the pressure of online courses, but still believes they are better than nothing.
“It has helped substantially, because without having courses posted online or having no way to have online meetings or classes, everyone would have to figure out what to do on their own or fall drastically behind. It would make learning and asking questions almost impossible.”
With all that is going on it’s important to remember to stay home, be safe and that communication is possible without physically being around others.