Technology has come to play a bigger and bigger role in people’s lives over the period of the pandemic.
Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Whatsapp, Skype, Facebook and Twitter are just a few of the many platforms that have enabled connectivity between people.
This technology has enabled people to stay in touch, though more than a few have probably had enough of online meetings.
The reliance we now place on technology hit home recently, when the internet and cable connection went down.
During an online meeting, things were cut short. Turning to the TV, that network was down as well. A message was being given that a cable was not connected, when in reality the network was down.
Next morning, the street Whatsapp was alive with chatter about the network going down, so then I knew it was not just me.
This minor episode illustrated how essential technology has become, as well as providing an example of a connected community that wasn’t there before.
There are worries about our present direction of travel, with the assumption that everyone is online. Increasingly, not being online seems to be inviting isolation and alienation.
Many of the traditional high street shops and services are moving online, closing shops and branches.
The move of the likes of banks away from a physical to an online presence no doubt makes commercial sense. But what about the less digitally literate person at home alone. The move to online may make them feel more anxious and insecure.
People have literally become addicted to their mobile phones. At some time in the future the ability to converse directly with another human being in person may become a taught social skill.
It is good to break digital addiction from time to time – leave the phone behind when you go for a walk. Feel that liberation, a reclaiming of life.
There are definite pluses and minuses of the present digital revolution. It has been a huge help in so many ways during the pandemic, allowing people to stay in touch. On a more negative note, the technology can also help breed a new type of isolation and loneliness. Moving forward we must continue to use the connectivity of online communication but not let the whole thing takeover and reclaim our lives sometimes.
Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See paulfdonovan.blogspot.com.