The ingress of this unsolicited gate crasher (COVID-19), apparently here to stay has boggled the rhythm of this planet affecting every mortal’s life. This contagion spread like a wave reaching the shore, leaving the population flabbergasted in its wake. It has indisputably inflicted our mere psychological being. But like all things, the world couldn’t afford to stand still and hence opted to continue communication by accommodating the online paradigm. We will explore this through three common threads of online experience: school, college, and social media.
When it comes to school children, it can be said that this experience should be tread with caution. Children below the age of 15, should experience the ups and downs of school life such as discipline, hard work through challenges both academic and creative, and the process of socialization in physical surroundings, as this is the age where children mould their creativity, drive, social relationships (especially, friendships). In addition, children have a hard time keeping focus and interest in the subject and are thereby missing out on social skills that would be pivotal for personality development in the future. Hence, it is up to the teachers to create magic in the subject matter and to motivate children to have a productive school life, albeit in an unconventional setting.
One of the benefits for them could be getting equipped with technological use early on in their lives. However, this doesn’t change the fact that the cons still outweigh the pros.
For college students, the shift to remote/e-learning has brought about some flexibility concerning time; for example, following through multiple courses at a pace convenient for them, having the freedom to compensate professional goals abreast pursuing personal ambitions efficiently, the stress of examinations reducing tremendously, and also saving the cost of travelling. Therefore, it can be safe to say that many college-going students may not face the same troubles as children.
But there are still many disappointments. A few notable ones include many prospective college students who dream of walking down the hallways of their dream college, face having to put off till the next year, should the pandemic cease and some normalcy returns. While, on the other hand, the students finishing their degrees have to face the sadness of not having to experience the nostalgia of their college on physical grounds. In the offline medium, waking up in the morning and getting ready for classes makes us physically charged and creates that mental headspace to be enthusiastic about attending lectures. But with it being online, the homely atmosphere makes us feel lethargic. With easy access to material and lectures on the web, we take the learning process and being regular with the same for granted.
When it comes to Social Media, it has always had a paradoxical effect on the population, even before the pandemic. Social media has posed a silver lining during these testing times, making interactions with closed ones, attending to services and requirements be just a click away, but there are countering drawbacks to the positives.
Very often social media could be known as the ‘medium of familiarity’ or ‘the beast of opinions’ given this very paradoxical effect. It has the power to empower and the ability to corrupt innocent minds and encourage morally ambiguous acts. This is relatable to some extent, as being obsessed with social media at one point, has caused many to go into a deep depression. With timely solutions and a guilty conscience, some manage to take back the reins over my life.
One of the many drawbacks that come through personal experiences is not being involved with our family members. Being in front of our screens just sucks out all the energy required to maintain even regular conversations with our parents. This also takes a severe toll on our mental health since we keep every emotion bottled up inside of us. We spend too much time scrolling through trending content on social networking sites which results in making us restless. For example, with Instagram, the feature of ‘reels’ has become very famous. With every video being 15-30 seconds long, our brain becomes hooked to watching something new with every passing minute. In our experience, watching a movie without being distracted by the notifications on our phones is near-impossible. This results in us wanting to watch or do something new rather than continuing with something for a while.
Another observation that could seem to be relevant is that with the availability of so much information and data out there with regards to careers, personal experiences, and so on, we have begun to contemplate every little detail rather than just letting things take on their organic course. And there is also this constant need to monetize everything that we do like pursuing our hobbies rather than just doing them for the sake of our mental well-being.
To conclude, the world has entered the realm of the Digital Age, a world where telecommuting, conference video calls, and virtual events have become the norm. But some people forget that we endured the Industrial Revolution, a world where man was replaced by machines. Hence, it is imperative that we embrace the power of this Age, as well as be aware of the dangers lurking behind excessive use. We must ensure the school experience retains authenticity, the college experience keeps the interest of the various subjects, and social media should be used for the right reasons and not take over the majority of our time. In this way, the only way to sum up the experience of the online world is this: ‘Embrace the Power But Hold the Steering Wheel!’
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