Living in testing times


The terms such as “Zoom meetings”, “online classes”, “work from home”, and “lockdown” are now being used more than ever. The COVID-19 did affect our life, lifestyle, and our vocabulary as well. There was a sudden change in how we perceived life, responded to our external stimulus and planned activities of our personal and professional life.
For instance, during the era before the pandemic, our outdoor activities would follow a normal procedure. However, since 2020, when the COVID-19 enveloped the world, we carefully plan our activities. We carry with us a hand sanitizer and a facemask. We also carry a pen, notepad, and a mobile phone charger, so we do not have to borrow it from someone else. Using others’ belongings is a big “no” and not having any physical contact is a conscious decision.
A major shift occurred in our professional lives as well because of COVID. Many offices in Pakistan and abroad have not resumed operations as the employees are continuing working from home. The employees can use the benefits of modern digital technology to plan and work around tasks, meet, and collaborate online. A major dent has been made in the educational sector because of the lockdown. Students in universities can focus on online lectures and can complete assignments and reports in groups and at an individual level.
The major brunt has to be faced by students from the nursery and elementary classes. Their attention span is so small that they can be sitting in front of the webcam at one instant, and at the next second playing with their toy in another room of their house. The faculty members of schools, colleges, and universities have been doing a commendable job preparing lesson plans, lectures, and presentations for their students. However, not every student has the same resources to pursue with their online classes.
A family having two or more kids need the same amount of laptops and smartphones. Trouble occurs if their online classes begin at the same time. In many cases, the working parent(s) need the laptop to attend a meeting or complete a task and the child wants to take an online class. Someone has to give up on their task or come up with an innovative method.
Furthermore, much of the attention, content, and essence of the lecture is lost during online lectures. The faculty members are unable to pay individual attention to each student the way they do it in class. During physical classes, they get a fair idea about the students who are above average and those who need further guidance. Perhaps physical classes, meetings, and hangouts cannot be the same when they are done online. It is indeed a miracle that we can connect online. Since humans are social animals, they need to interact and have a physical connection.
With the vaccination process now under way, we can be somewhat relieved that the infection rates may reduce. God forbid, if someone gets infected after being vaccinated, the disease will not take a toll on the body. In either case, preventive measures must be followed diligently. When going out we need to ensure that we are following all social distancing protocols and preventive measures.
Even if the pandemic loses its strength, we are surely living in tough times. The future will be different from what we were expecting. The digital media and its associated communication channels will be used on a routine basis. We will travel less, travel with caution, and interact on a need-to basis. Life during the pandemic has changed the world. The future is still uncertain. We are certainly living in testing times.