Illustration by Nora Talbott
If you skim through my past columns, you’ll see they are riddled with aggravations associated with technology. My first opinion article declared that technology replaced respect among young people. My first edition of “Zoning in” harped on the overabundance of personal information that users willingly publicize. In a later edition, I criticized the not-so-comedic comedy that plagues social media for its insensitivity and sensationalism.
Something’s changed in me, and it’s no small thing. For years, I dismissed any benefit of technology – efficiency, interconnectivity, unity – because of the horrors I Zoned in on: superficiality and impersonality. When people were physically accessible, I didn’t understand why everything had to take place online. But now, I’m not so dismissive.
Like everyone—if they are taking the mandated quarantine steps—I’m in solitude, stripped of access to all people besides my parents and my sister and my dog and a single friend. If I’m that lucky.
I may hate what technology has done to us, but I’m still human. And because I’m human, I’m a social creature. This means I need to be social, preferably with people. No offense, dog.
I am grateful, very grateful, for my health during this time. Knock on wood. But quarantine stole my friends and I don’t love it. In isolation, neither books nor jewelry nor art can carry conversations to enjoy or laughs to share. Desperate for something resembling my nostalgic memories, I turned to my phone, because that’s where people live.
If you’re a fan of my work, you’ve noticed I started using Twitter more frequently and am more active on Instagram. Whereas I used to shun obsessive social media users, I now log onto my accounts without shame! I acknowledge that I am dependent on social interaction to maintain my sanity. Maybe not as much social interaction as others, but a little bit is vital. Through Instagram, Twitter and iMessage, I can continue these interactions, even if I’m not in the direct vicinity of others.
This may not seem like a big thing to all those who are not me – which is all of you – but this is huge. My outlook is permanently shifted slightly in favor of technology, which formerly stood as my scapegoat for society’s fragments. Although I don’t regret my criticisms, I’m starting to reconsider the value of these scapegoats, especially social media. Today, digital technology is no less than a life-line. We are all in solitary confinement – in the company of our household companions – but are connected to millions of people. A pandemic is not an unprecedented event, but the sociality through isolation is.