Join the Conversation

Ongoing

On April 16, we posed a single question on Twitter asking “How has technology kept your life together, when the world seemed to be falling apart?” We are grateful for the very thoughtful, sometimes quite personal responses we received, and share them here.

Add your voice to the conversation. We'd love to hear from you.

Responses:

 

I live alone, so technology has been pivotal in keeping me engaged with friends and family through group chats. I have also been taking online courses in storytelling and plan to take more to stay engaged and learn something new.

 

It has enabled me to continue working and to keep in touch with friends and family. Also to renew some old friendships.

 

Technology allows me to communicate with friends and keep up-to-date on the medical situation nationally and in my state.

 

All day, my husband and I switch off which one of us is working online and which is taking care of our two-year-old. We try to keep her away from screens except for FaceTime-ing grandparents. That means I'm taking her on a tantrum-filled stroll while trying not to have her catch me glancing at my full-to-bursting inbox and all the notifications for the social media accounts I manage for work. I'll be reading her a book and become aware through a buzz or bloop that my big boss needs something. When both my husband and I are in the same room as our two-year-old, she assumes one of us is about to leave to go work. She gets nervous and clingy. She wants us to stay, to all be together, to just play. Then we put her to bed at night. "Finally," I think to myself. "I can sit at a screen, do some work, catch up on the world." And know what? From doing double duty all day as a mom and a professional, I barely have the energy. I just can't. The whole day was interrupted screentime and the whole night could be binge screentime, but I don't want it. I feel like I'm completely failing at everything, but where does one get more energy? So I wind down the day with an ASMR video. After reading 900 bedtime stories to our child, I guess I just need one of my own. My phone is a lifeline but it's also the primary symbol of my entire job's insane demands on a working parent who no longer has daycare. Two-year-olds don't play independently. Even if we DID let her have screentime, she'd want to watch it together and discuss it. There's no pause. There's no off. My own needs are utterly last and completely unmet. I want to throw my phone into the ocean but I also know I'd dive in after it.

 

I am more grateful than before that I have access to technology and internet in my home especially at a time like this. I am able to stay up to date with work and family. That communication has kept me afloat and I highly appreciate all the tools that have allowed that to happen.

 

Technology has helped to fill time. Socially being able to use Zoom or FaceTime to talk & see friends & family makes social isolation bearable. As a teacher in an elementary school the use of technology has made teaching possible in this time of extended school closures. Culturally I am able to use the internet to read about the impact in other countries. Technology has made me feel not as socially isolated as I am. Technology cannot replace in-person conversations, the feeling a hug brings or a pat on the shoulder. Nor does a virtual funeral replace the sense of community & support of physically being together when grieving. I feel more comfortable using technology's various platforms than I did a month ago. I feel technology is a very valuable tool in times like this.

 

Enjoy video chats but they can’t replace face to face. I have taken virtual tours of exhibits at cultural institutions that I might not otherwise go to. Same with virtual walks with park rangers. I have seen theater and dance that I missed in real life. But still, I miss the real thing. I’m more aware of how essential basic internet connection is. How are families who don’t have sufficient connectivity surviving?

 

I am from Oregon, so I am currently living completely across the country from all of my family and most of my friends. Technology has been essential for me to keep in touch and maintain my sanity since before this pandemic. My family had plans to visit me in May that we had to cancel because of COVID-19. However, my dad, my brother and I all have a game called Animal Crossing for the Nintendo Switch. In this game, you create a flourishing town on a deserted island, and one of the aspects of the game that we have used a lot is the ability to visit friend's and family's islands. So, although we live so far away from each other and we can't visit in person right now, my family and I have been visiting each other's islands almost weekly to catch up and see what we've all been up to. Of course, it will never be a replacement for seeing my dad and brother in real life, but it does make me feel closer to them at a time when it's easy to feel distant from everyone.
 

Technology has played a large role in the dynamics with my family and friends. Most of my loved ones live in different states (and countries). I have been using messenger since AIM existed and I use video chatting every week to see my family. I am accustomed to staying connected to friends via messenger on a regular basis and being video chatted into important gatherings like birthdays. I miss being able to hug and play with my nephew that lives nearby. It is challenging to not know when I will be able to travel to see my family, particularly my niece and nephew. I deeply appreciate that my church is able to be active because of Zoom. I greatly miss being in person to hug and be physically connect with them when we pray. I am also appreciative that I can still work. I love my job and, for the most part, it still functions the same. I do feel the need to demonstrate my worth during this time when job security is unstable. I miss my office terribly. I miss closing my office door and coming home; I miss leaving work at work. I also miss being able to easily read nonverbal cues from others; It is very hard in video conferencing. I am proud of the people who are loving and kind. I am proud of all the people who are engineering solutions for all the issues that come with these circumstances and these ideas are shared through technology. Technology feels less isolating than it did a month ago. I am tremendously thankful.

 

Technology has helped me to see another side of my coworkers. Even though we are in squares like the "Brady Bunch Family" looking at their backgrounds on Zoom meetings inadvertently I am able to see their living rooms, significant other passing by, children, pets, personalized background, etc. I can see their humanity and perhaps find more commonality that we will ever have in the office.

 

I was not one for human interactions in virtuality, but this crisis experience has been informative with regard to the specific affordances/opportunities of online communication. As physical interactions shriveled, online communication bloomed, and, in the quiet of isolation, the nourishing functions of the virtual could be heard and seen. Even the coarse imagery and (at times) broken sound were still faces and voices providing human exchange, like a successful experiment in low-bandwidth social exchange. Still prefer the physical and face-to-face, but there is something beautiful and sustaining in the virtual when the digits are organized to activate experiences distinctly human.

 

Technology has been my source of friendship. I have my wonderful parents, but I have a larger support system that I can only access virtually. Having game nights, or extended family video calls have kept me connected to my friends and family. Technology is the way that I’m able to plan things that give me something to look forward to in a long string of the same, and a chance for me to still consume art via virtual museum tours or live performances on social media.

 

Staying connected with friends and family. Ability to work from home. Keeping up with the news, entertainment, and the memes. However, technology cannot replace experiences like concerts and food festivals, or simply eating at a restaurant or exploring cities/countries. I appreciate technology more now than I did before.

 

I have been using technology for social purposes and for work purposes. I mainly use technology to connect with friends and family. I also use technology to work from home. I have a new found appreciation for technology. The ways that we can remain connected even if we aren’t physically together are amazing!

 

I don't feel very different. I'm taking the rest of the semester of my classes online, but my major is pretty tech-heavy so it doesn't really feel different for many of my classes.

 

Zoom and an oppressive amount of social media has kept me together like Elmer's glue keeps together a vase. I'm fine as long as nothing touches me but I'm fragile. It let's people talk to each other, but it's nothing more than glorified texting. It's hard to be mentally present on Zoom, like, my body just knows I'm at home and stays in couch-potato-mode. I feel the same about technology now as I did before, I am just more reliant on it.

 

Technology has allowed me to hang out with friends even from far away. It has given me the opportunity to watch movies with my boyfriend from afar, to enjoy games with friends, and to laugh about old memories, even when we're all scared about the current world we're living in. It has allowed me to continue working, albeit very differently, but it has proved that the world will continue moving in whatever way that it can. Technology has given me the ability to see data trends, to learn about eggs, to finally learn the Rubik's cube algorithm. I miss impromptu chats with my coworkers, which technology such as Teams is trying to account for, and I miss smiling at strangers when I passed by them in the store or hallway. I have always appreciated the comforts of technology, but I now appreciate the wide reach it has, to support all kinds of people in all kinds of ways at the same time.

 

I answer face time calls as easily as I used to answer phone calls. Which never would have been the case in Jan. 2020, I typically hated face timing especially without notice. I know this is a small personal change, but it definitely reflects how much I miss seeing my friends' faces, their expressions, our in person connection. I'm thankful for the memes and jokes that provide some much needed comedic relief but I also feel caught in a catch 22 - constant bombardment of info on social media is definitely worsening my anxiety but it feels like social media is the main way to stay connected right now, I constantly feel like I need a break from it, but then I don't have the usual alternatives and distractions in my life.    

 

Based on my experience so far with this pandemic, today's technology is not sufficiently advanced to substitute as a platform for any activities that are normally conducted in person: I am on indefinite leave from my job because I cannot work from home. I feel like the virus claimed my favorite holiday, Passover, from me and left me with a cumbersome collage of faces of a Zoom call. Culture is a thing best experienced face-to-face with others who share yours, and technology -- even enhanced by the necessity of pandemic -- has failed to change that. At the same time, the threat of COVID19 has driven me to reinforce relationships that were previously hampered by geographic separation. Now, all my friends and family are the same distance from me: a call away. I have rekindled college friendships that, when those friends departed for opportunities elsewhere in the world, ended. Probably because of the boredom and dearth of social interaction, I make video calls to loved ones every day. That was definitely not the case two months ago. I have technology to thank for the change. People seem to think the quality of interpersonal/communication technologies will skyrocket during and after this global event. I doubt it. Improving WiFi connections or adding features to video calling platforms are details that do not address a fundamental barrier. We humans need to know someone is there -- physically, mind you -- experiencing with and supporting us. There is no way around it. Technology has not adequately filled the void that social distancing has created, and our communal psyche is beginning to feel the toll.

 

I am able to continue working from home because of technology.

 

It allows me to stay in contact with family, friends and co-workers. Also provides me a way to search information and be aware, allowing me to make smart decisions of what I need to do to keep my family safe.

 

It's not surprise that tech has made this pandemic far more manageable than any in the past. It gives me an overview of news. It allows me to continue working. I connect with friends more regularly through messages and video chats, to have regular phone and video calls with family and my boyfriend, who is living in New York while I'm in New Jersey. It's given me resources to learn how to play the ukulele, which I've picked up while in isolation and has fed my creative desires. I've begun recording and sharing my music projects, which I use video editing software and Instagram to accomplish. I've joined a community of bookish people through the Internet, mostly on YouTube and Twitter. I'm able to read more than what I have in my house through the many newly available resources online. I use Roll20, a website for online D&D playing to continue the campaign I'm in weekly. I'm using apps to encourage exercise, though I'm beginning to wish I could go to the gym despite my membership being a bill I paid, not a service I used regularly. I use Netflix and other streaming services to stay entertained. I look up recipes online that are tied to my heritage that I don't get to have anymore with our current state of isolation to plan how to make them myself. I'm entertained, employed, and probably talking with others about as much as before if not a little more. It makes me think this is positive in a sense for the healthy people who are in a similar position to me. My hope is that phone addictions aren't worsened when this ends and people realize tech is a means to an end in communication. It's hard for me to say if the next time I sit down with a friend if they'll look me in the eyes or talk to me while scanning their phone. Probably not as important now when there are astronomically larger issues to handle. I'm sure tech is benefiting those who work in clinics and on potential vaccines. As a regular person, it's useful to be able to text the person making a grocery run with that one item you remembered because going out again to get a bunch of bananas is an exhausting trip of accusational stares and snatching items quickly, a controlled set of actions to get home without touching anything unnecessarily, and an ordeal of disinfection before coming back in the house. But... while I know how infectious Covid is because of what I hear on the news, people are being fed false news just as frequently about how "overhyped" this crisis is. Tech is how that news reaches eyes and ears. There is a good and evil that comes from keeping your eyes trained toward a screen for most of your day.    

 

I work full time and volunteer on several committees at church. I also have a lot of friends I wish I could see as well as family spread out not just across the country but around the world. I have been able to keep up with my responsibilities and hang out with my friends in groups via video chats which has been amazing. It would have been a lot harder to do all of that without technology. However I feel that because we have access to this technology (and because we’re home all day) we’re expected to ALWAYS be “on” and available. This is a stressful time and I wish I could use it to take a step back and evaluate what’s important and reconnect with myself, but it’s almost like I’m now busier than ever because people expect that I’m always around. I feel like I have less of an excuse to say “no” to things and set boundaries for my own mental health.    

 

I have been more connected with my business associates with scheduled “Microsoft meetings” a few times a week We have been scheduling time to talk, zoom, FaceTime ect. with more family and friends that we don’t usually get to see. It can’t replace physical contact. I feel about the same regarding technology but I am happy that via social media, my mom has been able to stay connected including FaceTime with us and her Great Grandson.    

 

Technology has been absolutely everything in my life right now. This past year I had been so upset with social media, with the idea of being always readily available to people by a quick ping on your phone, 24/7. I disconnected entirely from social media and I honestly wanted to get rid of my smart phone. It’s crazy how a year later the only connection with my loved ones is through my smart phone. My FaceTime calls where we have cried, laughed, celebrated birthdays, has been crucial. My smart phone is keeping me afloat, unbelievable. My very big extended family loves to get together for family game nights where things could get intensely competitive. Now through the Houseparty app we’re able to still make this happen. Im back on Instagram at least, where I stumble upon so many hilarious posts that lift my spirit. My job wasn’t 100% prepared for the pandemic and struggled to get us up and running for working from home. They’re unpreparedness in this day in age shocked me. Although technology has been keeping us somewhat sane during Covid, it will never replace me hugging my mom and father in law which I miss doing the most. This is something I’m used to doing on an almost daily basis.    

 

Fortunate enough to still be able to work from home, which wouldn't be possible without modern tech. Socially, have been able to connect with family and friends via assorted videochat technology. I'm playing video games with friends--perhaps a bit too much--but it doesn't quite substitute raucous board game nights with pals in my kitchen and elsewhere. 'Technology' obviously encapsulates far more than gadgets and gizmos, of course. I definitely feel grateful on some level for social media to see how connections are getting through social isolation, but still have plenty of misgivings for the often-toxic nature of the major platforms.    

 

Working in the telecom business for 30+ years I have embraced technology and have been very fortunate to have been able to telecommute for the majority of 20+ years as I interact with people in various time zones all over the world on a regular basis. Honestly, not much has changed for me from a work point of view during COVID19. I do; however, find I am more distracted throughout the day following news and social media on my handheld device. There are also more people in my home office than normal now that my kids are home from college and High School.

 

I am so grateful for technology during this time. I can keep in touch with my boyfriend while we quarantine with family, I have reconnected with old friends, I can continue teaching my students, and banking can continue. I can read books online and watch movies with friends. It can’t replace hugs and physical touch. I can’t feel someone’s breath and feel their warmth. I am very grateful for technology but I worry how addicted and reliant I have become in regards to its use.

 

Although technology cannot replace the relationships and rapport that teachers and students build with one another, it has done a very good job in supporting us in this time. Teachers have learned how to reinvent their way of teaching, and have been able to care for our students with technology's help. I am so appreciative to have technology, and better yet to have had this opportunity to learn how to use it as a "classroom". This will be massively beneficial for teaching in the future.

 

Yes, as it has allowed many of us to share ourselves during this isolation. It cant replace sitting in a pub with your friends and laughing together but it does certainly help.

 

Well, technology (IT; computing, Internet, email, Zoom, etc.) is now the principal means of communication beyond the immediate small group in which I have socially isolated during the lock down; so in this sense, technology is keeping my life together in a rather central way. Another way of putting this, is to say that the continuation of my entire extended social life (i.e., my social life beyond my immediate family) is technology-dependent. This includes my work life (now, 100% online), my social life, and even my extended family life (e.g., conversations over Zoom with my sisters, and with my grown-up children). I have a strong sense that I am typical in this respect. So, technology replaces a great deal of face-to-face conversation. However, it cannot replace the richness of face-to-face encounters - at work, socially, and with family and friends. I now doubt the wisdom of long-distance travel for the sake of many professional meetings; but at the same time, I also miss (and hence, value more) long-distance travel to see family and friends.

 

Despite being a teleworker most of my career, I've never had the luxury of every participant enthusiastically sharing video of themselves in an effort to connect - until now. We all feel awkward on camera, but the 'stay at home' orders have made many fearful that they might never get to interact with other people like they have in the past. The hunger for connection has made our personal insecurities less important than the opportunity to be with others in whatever way technology can make possible. I've always done online banking, shopping, and even had groceries delivered. Now people around me are able to understand how I get things done... and I am worried that many jobs the once served our community will be consumed by automation, online services, and even robotics. I love technology. I am not oblivious to its impact on our society. We must be mindful of what business behaviors we support.

 

I have attended several parties that were very odd but somehow satisfying. The first was a birthday party on FB live in the middle of the week in a city I would not normally travel to in the middle of the week. The birthday boy and his wife and adult daughter entertained with guitar playing, singing, poetry reading, and quizzes. The hosts would occasionally flash their camera to the alley below where we could see and hear other friends we knew who were attending. they stayed downstairs. They had their devices on and we could all comment and talk. A few days later a friend locally invited me to her annual sing a long to Jesus Christ Superstar (the movie) party held remotely. She streamed JCS, we all muted and sang along and commented and danced along. My husband even joined in. It was strange but I loved it. I would never have attended either party if we were in a regular time. I feel pretty impressed with myself that I can use the tech that can get me into meetings from my car or have me sing a long with my friends from all different places on the planet. I am glad for it. (But also a bit weary of it.)

 

Facebook and Twitter have helped me feel connected to others. It doesn't replace hugs and kisses. Streaming services are a lifesaver.

 

I have mixed feelings. It isn't like technology suddenly changed. The same tools I'm using to stay connected, zoom, duo, social media sites--they all existed. But instead of spending my time scrolling on strangers, I use them to share love, attention, and words with the people I love. The people that have always been so important to me, but who now seem even more dear as we're faced with the possibility that some of us may be gone any day. That's a plus. But I also find myself stir crazy. Screened out. Tired and oversaturated with the same stimulus day after day after day. It pushes me into the yard, into the kitchen, into the arms of my husband, into playtime with my dog. The requirement of technology right now is so strong that the breaks need to be more intentional, thoughtful, and meaningful.

 

I appreciate family and friend gatherings via Zoom. This particular technology seems best with people I already know. So yes, this particular technology has been helpful. But like many, I've been reliant on technology for a very long time - and the nature of my work is such that I often connect with people virtually. But I miss human contact. I miss the natural give and take in a conversation that can happen in person, whether in a work convo or a social situation. I'm sick of Zoom or Face Time, etc., to be honest, but also grateful they exist.

 

Has not kept my life together.

 

I've begun having Zoom meetings. I'm also watching concerts more often. 

 

I am 76, but I have loved new technology from the beginning. It has made everything possible My husband (much younger) can do his job from home. I can order groceries online and have them delivered. I can be in touch with my friends via Facebook, email, texting, and even talking on the phone! I can watch YouTube videos of cultural events on my phone or TV. I read kindle books and newspapers on my phone. I love technology even more than I did a month ago. This would be a very lonely time without it. The only thing I don't like is having to accidentally see or hear the moron Trump talking once in a while.

 

technology is still an invasive tool when used by the wrong overlords. Technology allows me to continue performing my job - sales - to the best of my ability in a more limited environment.

 

I've always loved and embraced technology so don't feel differently about it. However, I do think this will end up being a transformational pivot point for society. People will go from it being a luxury to something filling a compelling need. To ask how has technology kept things together, you need to also look at how would the same situation have been without technology such as audio/video conferencing available. You could even consider if the existence of technology helped contain the virus - because it existed we were more willing to be socially distant.

 

I have been working from home for over 13 years, so my work life is really the same. However, my personal life is substantially different. I like to play music with friends and we haven’t been able to do that. Music lessons over Zoom or similar are not nearly as productive. Concerts are out as well. People have tried to compensate by doing “concerts from home” over Facebook and other platforms, but it has certainly not been as much fun as going to hear people play live.

 

Having a cellphone has been a godsend to be able to communicate through a window with my dad in the nursing home.

 

Intech mediated social life scale of the groups we function in shrinks; for example, on-line teaching works live discussion are possible only when in relatively small teams; so greek agora change to a coffee table once again

 

It’s kept me in touch with the people I love. It’s made my job possible. It’s allowed me to stay safely at home. I’ve actually been doing these things for more than a decade - I live several hundred miles from my parents, work remotely from my company and do shop on line and have meals delivered sometimes, but the past month has made me realize how lucky I am to have the method and means to do that.