(Virtual Reality art created by Ronald Jose)
Written by Matt Bucci:
They’ve said we are the most prepared to handle this. These two young and talented generations raised by screens and media should thrive in this bizarre void of social gatherings. They’re wrong. No one is thriving right now. And that’s okay. We know we’ll get through this.
FOMO isn’t a thing anymore because there’s nothing to miss out on. With around one-third of the world’s population in some sort of quarantine lockdown, everyone is experiencing loneliness in one way or another. But we make do. We spend our Friday evenings in boisterous video-chat happy-hours. We connect with our boys on Call of Duty. We facetime and call the people we haven’t spoken to in too long.
Still, we miss the little things. We miss seeing our friends. We miss watching sports. We miss listening to live music. We miss restaurants. We miss bars. We miss people. We also really miss leaving bars with people.
I’m a teacher. Fortunately, I’m still very busy with work. Though, most of my students are seniors, who have every reason to check-out mentally from high school. Still, I do my best to keep them entertained and prepare them for the next chapters of their lives. Some have responded well and have done their best to maintain a sense of normalcy in their educations—others, not so much. I don’t blame them at all. The greatest summative experiences of their adolescent lives have all been canceled. No final sports seasons, no proms, no graduations, no graduation parties, no beach week, so their lack of motivation should be expected. Although, they have all certainly learned a lesson that they probably haven’t ever come across: the true value of face-to-face interaction. These kids miss seeing their friends and teachers every day and are just as fed-up as everyone else is with the lack of human interaction.
Maybe we needed a momentary pause from our active social lives to understand how the world would be if it were all through a screen. Until now, screens have always been our escape. Not intrigued by your professor’s influential lecture?... Scroll down the Instagram rabbit hole. Need something to do while waiting for a flight?... Find a nice spot next to an outlet at the gate and watch all the YouTube and Netflix your heart desires. Device usage has almost completely shifted from leisurely to mandatory and our daily lockdown routines have now required us to spend almost all our time in front of one screen or another. We spend so much time looking at screens that we even think it’s necessary to buy blue-light-deflecting glasses… which is totally not an excuse to get those personality frames we always wanted to appear more intelligent (Side note: there is no medical evidence that supports the use of blue-light glasses to protect your vision. You’re better off wearing dollar-store sunglasses. It’s a fad, not fact; look it up).
We long for this nostalgic dynamic between man and machine, but we cannot escape what used to be exactly that: our escape. Where do we escape to now that the virtual vortex has completely thrown-off our balance between work and leisure? Perhaps it’s somewhere we have yet to discover. Maybe it’s a part of ourselves we haven’t visited in quite a while but can return to now that we have the time. It could even reside in the distant parts of our minds and has simply not yet come to fruition. This situation has provided an unparalleled opportunity for us to conduct some self-exploration. Being the resourceful creatures that we are, we should take full advantage of that. If we challenge ourselves to stare into the face of boredom, take it by the neck and tell it, “not today,” we may just gain something out of this mess after all. We’ll find something. Find your Cha during these trying times. Even if you don’t know exactly where to look, don’t be afraid to explore.