Touching Base through Digital Chat
These past thirteen months have been marked by an unusual way of communicating – Zoom. People have been working from home and resorting to this platform to discuss the status of whatever has been assigned to them. And, families and friends have been accessing the online chat feature of the app to connect with each other. With the never-ending lockdowns or stay-at-home orders, one thing defines this pandemic: loneliness.
I was once struck by what a relative who was then living in The Big Apple said. In a rather calm but forthright demeanour, she admitted that one can be lonely amidst the noise and vivacity of Manhattan. At the time, I thought how can one be this when NYC is the city that never sleeps. Now that we’re on the second year of this pandemic, I understand this feeling, living in an island – the Manhattan island.
It’s not unusual to dress up just on the top of your waist while in a zoom conference. Over the months of this pandemic, people have been caught in embarrassing shots after failing to log out after the meeting had ended. A few days ago, one Member of Canadian Parliament was caught in his birthday suit on his laptop when he inadvertently failed to log out or close his computer and was in the process of changing clothes after exercising. He apologized but the picture had already gone viral, no thanks to another politician who maliciously put it out there for every individual on social media to see. Lesson to be learned from video conferencing at home: always log out and close your laptop after a video conference.
Connecting by digital has been going on even before this pandemic. I’ve had email accounts for decades now and was just content using them until March 2020 when WHO declared the pandemic to be official. Now, the need to see friends or family has taken a front seat, so to speak, among people living in different parts of the world. I know of one family who connects by Zoom regularly. Some members live in the Philippines, others in California and the rest in Toronto. At the start of every zoom, the family members briefly update each other of Covid stories and experiences in their areas, as well as the vaccination rollouts, what demographic is currently receiving that jab in the arm, even the kind of vaccine that is being offered. After, they engage in healthy conversations which last for three hours. During one chat, one sibling working from home suggested that with all the money saved from shopping because no stores are open, they should visit Jupiter. He meant the planet, Jupiter, until one sister asked, isn’t there a street named Jupiter in your subdivision, to which everyone laughed. Birthday songs have been sung to the celebrants and plans on what to do after this pandemic have been discussed. One nephew jested that he’d pack his clothes and head to another country after this pandemic. He came home to live with his parents at the start of this pandemic. A sister would head to a beach resort and stay there until her funds are depleted. A brother is planning to build a log cabin in the middle of a farm with plumbing as a priority in the structure. Another sister would like to resume travelling which was halted by this virus. One niece declared she’d return all the toilet paper and paper towels that are sitting in half of her bedroom, a result of her panic buying every time there’s a lockdown. Of course, these are all dreams and I think at this point in our lives, we are entitled to dream even unrealistic ones while awake. It keeps us going. It gives us hope. It keeps us focused amidst all the confusion that’s going on around us.