Debate remains heavy about whether the world returns to a pre-COVID19 state once the pandemic subsides. Some people think the world as we know it has shifted forever, others argue as creatures of habit we will quickly fall back into old ways. Whatever your beliefs on this topic, one think the current lockdown has magnified beyond doubt is the importance of staying connected.
Those of us living in a world of high speed broadband connection, smart devices and clear strong telephone signals are lucky. We won’t feel the isolation of some as we are able to facetime, zoom, surf the Internet, use social media and generally continue to communicate as we had before.
But what about those less lucky? With no broadband. Less technical know how. Or just those who rely heavily on face to face contact? They will be struggling right now.
A real danger of the current pandemic is a rise in loneliness, mental health issues and suicide. A lack of connection with others is a key contributor to this.
What does this mean for the future?
In the UK, all of a sudden Jeremy Corbyn’s call for ‘free broadband for all’ doesn’t seem such a crazy idea. Costly yes, but at times like these when the government is relying on the Internet to get key messages out, it would be hugely valuable. I don’t think this will become Government policy just yet, but commitments to high speed broadband coverage are a natural step in this direction.
Apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype and others are experiencing unprecedented demand as people long for face to face contact and to connect as groups. This demand will dissipate as the lockdown eases, but millions of new people have been exposed to the ability to see people without meeting them physically. People will continue this trend of group gatherings over the Internet.
For me personally I have spoken to more people properly, more regularly than in any 4 week period for a long time. Whether it has been family, business connections, or friends, my call log for April is the longest it has been in years. That is on top of Zoom calls. I am terrible at keeping at touch with people generally, and worse at calling them. Something changed in April and I have made a concerted effort to keep in touch with my circle. I hope to carry this on after COVID-19 is a thing of the past.