Real/Virtual: Blurring the Line to Unlock Lockdown Blues
The line between what is real and what is not has gotten blurrier. We, the millennials, should be happy But are we?
Earphones plugged in, hunched over a screen, furiously debating new episodes from favourite shows on Twitter, or scrolling through Instagram aimlessly...
This is the stereotypical image of privilege that pops up as one says 'millennials' or 'Gen Z'. The generation that's said to have discovered the joys of staying in.
But hey, for a generation known for their virtual presence, the ‘physical distancing’ part that came along with the current lockdown ( on account of the coronavirus crisis) does not seem to be sitting well with us. Admire the irony of the situation!
The line between what is real and what is not has gotten blurrier than usual. We, the millennials, should be happy, right? We are used to this grind.
Fear of Turning into Lonely Bots
As the world turns more dependent on screens, pop culture depicts the fear of the ‘online’ taking over the ‘real.’ Netflix’s popular show Black Mirror thrives on this anxiety, with each episode depicting a dystopia where technology takes over. Movies like Her and WALL-E show us an image of a brand new community we can expect from a hyper- virtual future.
Now, here’s the deal. While in many ways different, both these movies explore the biggest fear humans face in the absence of physical intimacy- loneliness, isolation and disconnect.
And that is what hits home. Perhaps, the virtual can never be a substitute for the real- the flesh, blood, mind, body, and soul of a ‘real’ encounter.
Today, our reality is near the dystopia we have imagined in our books, movies, and corresponding literature.
The global spread of the deadly coronavirus has taken away the choice of physical proximity. We have been pushed towards our screens, closer to the virtual world.
Somehow, contrary to what sci-fi predicted, we haven’t all become lonely, unhappy, unhealthy ghosts of our former selves. Yet.
Rather, we are attempting to cure the physical isolation with online solidarity. Everyone seems to be playing Ludo on Twitter or planning the next zoom call with their friends/ colleagues. One couple even got married on video conference.
Dalgona coffee may just be a fancier version of 'pheti hui' coffee. However, there is solidarity in participating in a trend, born out of the boredom and anxiety we are all experiencing during a global emergency.
The generation known for swiping right on love... we have even imitated the most intimate of human connections online, as upgrades like Tinder passports push the limits of physical/virtual distance.
Twitter is afire with users missing days out with their ‘homies’. There are constant throwback pictures of vacations or even a day out in the sun, a change for the generation that has discovered the joys of not stepping out and staying glued to their screens.
A recent New York Times' article reveals the substantial increase in phone calls as Americans crave to hear each other’s voice
The post- lockdown world order will incorporate many changes. That is for sure.
We may just end up as disconnected ghosts with empty online identities or make do with the proximity offered by the existing virtual community.
We may even end up choosing neither, and re-invent how we define social interaction, community, togetherness, and connectivity.
Like the story of a couple in New York where a man asked-out his neighbor using drone technology.
Because at the end of the day, people will always need people. Right?
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