Covid has robbed us of the simple joys of life - GulfToday

Covid has robbed us of the simple joys of life

Social Distance

Visitors set up inside circles designed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging social distancing, at Dolores Park in San Francisco. AP

I like the internet as much as the next guy. There are a lot of useful things about it and on it. But, at the same time, I dislike the internet as much as the next guy because there’s also a lot wrong with it.

The upside of the internet is also its downside. Whilst you can find anything on the internet, which is a good thing, you can also find anything on the next. More importantly, people can search for anything and find anything, even if it’s the wrong images, instructions for making things that are bad for society and even how to hurt yourself and others. Yes, believe it or not, such sinister stuff is out there on the World Wide Web, put there by equally sinister people.

That’s the problem with the internet. Whilst good and useful people can put things there for others to read and learn, bad people can do exactly the same. Granted that use of the internet is a lot like going to a bookshop or library where anyone is free to buy or borrow anything, regardless of how messed up it is. So we shouldn’t really lay all the blame on the internet. That being said, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for most people to point the finger at technology in general. Even if we’re not browsing the net we are interacting with our laptops or smartphones in one form or another.

We might be on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or some other social media platform. We might also be talking to a friend or colleague using one of the many available video-conference Apps. But that too has become the bane of some people’s lives.

I mean in some countries people are afraid to attend face to face meetings and insist on using Zoom, via Cisco Webex or Google Teams. In order to do that they seem to have acquired the skill of being able to dress up and dress down all at the same time. From the waist up they appear to be dressed to the nines but from the waist down, it’s actually pyjama-land! The problem, however, is that they end up having little or no human interaction and, let’s be fair, that interacting via a technical device is not real human interaction. It’s just not the same thing as standing by a cooler or in the break room chatting to colleagues. The whole point of going to work is not just doing work, although that is a primary part of it, but it’s also to socialise and build relationships that can often go beyond the work environment. Unfortunately, this Covid thing seems to have put paid to that notion.

It’s equally the same for schoolchildren and university students. Since Covid, a large number of in-person classes, in both schools and universities, were cancelled and replaced by online classes. Now, unless you have your own room I don’t think I need to tell you how difficult it is to attend and even pay full attention to a class that is being streamed through a computer in a living room that is noisily occupied by family members. Even if they’re not noisy, I’m sure you will agree that it can be distracting.  

Young people are now getting fed up with having to take all their classes online. I can understand that and, most likely, it is for the reasons I described earlier. In addition I’m sure that they are missing their friends, having lunch with them, playing with them and actually going into a lab to do an experiment instead of hearing about it online. The same applies to university students. I’m sure they miss going to parties, going to bars and socialising with their friends since university years are meant to be the best years of their lives.

Most students who finished university pre-Covid probably have fond memories of their classes, the canteen, the campus library, the campus in general, etc, but during Covid today’s student will most likely remember attending little or no classes, being locked down, not being able to see their friends, not being able to go anywhere and pretty much sitting staring at a machine for the duration of their study time.

Most people’s mental well-being has definitely been affected by not being able to have human interaction. But for students it’s affecting their education. Studies have shown that students who have been forced to take online classes rather than attend them in-person are far less able to retain the information they receive and it’s thus affecting their grades. It’s almost like students are being dumbed down.

That is a travesty!!

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