Pandemic life in the age of the internet
It has been about two moths since Coronavirus forced us to make drastic changes in our everyday life. About two months ago I had to bid farewell to my semester abroad in Japan, and had to return back to Germany. By now, I have settled into the ‘new’ lifestyle under the pandemic in which face masks and sanitizers float around everywhere.
Of course, I was sad to leave Japan and with it a great opportunity to get to know a new country. But things are not all bad: although I am back in Germany now, I am taking all my courses from my Japanese university as planned. Well, not exactly as planned. My classes take place on Zoom and the average amount of classmates I have is three. Still, I am extremely grateful that it is possible for me to follow my courses from so far away. In a way, I feel like I am still getting part of my semester abroad experience like this. From the comfort of my home and pajama pants, I am learning about Japanese religion, culture and environmental issues. I may not be able to explore the country in person, but at least I can explore it through literature and research articles.
In general, communication is mostly possible online right now. That is hard for many of us, but at the same time I have had to think about pandemics in the past where communication was not really possible. During the Spanish Flu for example, people could not get live updates of what was happening in the world around them. Getting these live updates has been a great help for me in the past weeks. Online support groups, information on how to still finish my bachelor in time, and updates on governmental measures have all helped to keep my hopes a little bit.
At the same time, tools like social media show everything, including horrifying things like the murder of George Floyd or the concentration camps for Uyghurs in China. With a lot of time on our hands, I find it hard to distract from topics like these, and maybe it’s even a good thing to think about them. One thing that has gotten clear to me is that in this new age, the internet has become more important than ever. And although this leads to painful confrontations with the shortcomings of humanity, it also helps us to be there for each other and to continue our lives in a remote way.