Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a social animal.” COVID-19 has challenged this thought today. With more and more people practicing social distancing, we are restricting our socialization, at least physically. So how will our society address this contradiction? Is this really a contradiction or will new patterns of social interaction emerge now? Will COVID-19 leave an indelible legacy for generations to follow? Many such thoughts come to my mind as I continue with my day to day life. Life today is different, whether you focus on family, your surroundings or your professional life.
Digital learning put aside, the children have slipped into their summer vacation routine, and parents like me are struggling to put some discipline around gadget time, apps download, screen time.
When it comes to family life – we were used to of going out frequently and had our own so-called me time. Bu with social distancing we are restricted at home and have our spouse/partner/children/parents around us all the time. Although the teachers are trying their level best to keep children busy with google classroom or virtual teaching, you still have to work on providing them the necessary tools to have continuous learning. Digital learning put aside, the children have slipped into their summer vacation routine, and parents like me are struggling to put some discipline around gadget time, apps download, screen time. And since the entire family is confined or having “cabin fever” one also has to think of the mental well-being of one’s family.
Life, in general, has been reduced to having a cautious approach until the threat of pandemic goes away. The grocery visits have to be calculated and with less frequency, but at the same time, we have to ensure that we have sufficient stock of basic necessities to feed the family during the lockdown. Also, something as ordinary and benign as a shopping cart that you might have used at Costco or Target begins to seem like a threat to your well-being and that of your family. OCD has become part and parcel of daily life. The focus on “me” suddenly has increased while we look with a gaze tinted with doubt at every person with whom we come in contact, even those whom we come across during the short trip to the grocery store or while getting basic necessities.
The coffee conversation will morph into digital conversations with video conferencing and having a cup of coffee on your own in the living room.
The professional life is seeing drastic changes, as it has shifted to the virtual world altogether. Digital technology has definitely helped in converting in-person meetings to virtual meetings. The charm of face to face meetings and conversations is missing from virtual meet-ups, but safety first. We have to embrace this new change. More and more virtual collaboration tools will be the new focus as these virtual meetings will need an exchange of ideas, notes in the virtual scenarios. The coffee conversation will morph into digital conversations with video conferencing and having a cup of coffee on your own in the living room. Speaking of the living room, I had to make a big change to ours, by bringing in my office desk, changing the setting of background in order to show a “pleasant” view to people during video conferencing. Also, we need to be professionally dressed in our house for these meetings. One cannot just show up with hair messed-up, even during the early morning conference calls.
When I zoom out of my life right now, I can see how many of the changes being triggered by the coronavirus outbreak have the potential to define work and life for the coming generations. Will we see a rise in the practice of work from home if and when this pandemic subsides? Will it change the way we socialise and interact forever? Only time will tell.
Rahul Bhalerao is the Vice President with one of the top ten IT firms in India. Currently working from California, USA, he lives with his spouse and two boys aged 13 and 10. The views expressed are the author’s own.