Winston Churchill’s famous observation - made during the bleakest days of World War II - have a lot to teach us today, as we grapple with the new normal of self-isolation and social distancing.
What he meant by it is simple but profound: Dramatic change inevitably uncovers fresh insight, and points to opportunities for growth. And that’s the case even where the change in question - Hitler’s invasion of Poland, the sickening spread of COVID-19 - is catastrophic.
So here at Family Zone we’ve been asking ourselves, what does this crisis - our own crisis, right at this moment - have to teach us? What opportunities does it present to us as digital families to develop a new perspective? What behaviours or attitudes do these unprecedented circumstances invite us to reflect upon and reconsider?
The "new normal"
Have you heard the one about the time traveller from the past curious to know what our lives are like in 2020? He’s told, “I have a device in my pocket capable of accessing the entirety of human knowledge - and I use it to argue with strangers and look at pictures of cats.”
No more. If nothing else, the “new normal” of our homebound lives is forcing us to use our devices for the purpose they were presumably intended: to connect us in a meaningful way to other human beings - and to information vital for our survival and delightful to our imaginations.
Newsflash: people are using their phones to talk again! And not only that, but to gather for virtual get-togethers, happy hours and dinner parties, thanks to the magic of livestreaming.
Getting real on social media
As for social media, much of the world has pivoted to using it to get real - to offer assistance and to ask for it, to admit to confusion and uncertainty, to cut the pretence that any individual life - no matter how many followers it claims - is uniquely #blessed.
On the downside, the amount of disinformation being spread on Facebook and other platforms has been likened to an “infodemic.” So-called fake news has always been an issue on social media. But this crisis is highlighting those dangers in a way never before seen.
New ways of learning
At the same time, our kids are seeing that their personal devices can be used for so much more than mindless scrolling through TikTok, or eternal rounds of Fortnite - that every device has the potential to be a learning device that can enlighten, enthrall and astonish us.
“I have a device in my pocket capable of accessing the entirety of human knowledge - and I use it to argue with strangers and look at pictures of cats.”
Home-schooling means they can discover livestreams of animals in zoos around the globe or learn about everything from dinosaurs or doodling from world experts. They can listen to cool science and history podcasts, or - with YouTube as their teacher - try their hand at digital animation or crocheting or origami.
Virtual playgroups, craft groups, parent-teacher brainstorms and even singalongs are now allowing us to be “together, alone” as never before.
New ways of imagining
And of course more time at home can mean - and should mean - more time that’s screen-free, as well. There’s a big opportunity here for siblings to learn how to play together, face-to-face and offline. Old-school amusements ranging from board games to scavenger hunts, dress-ups to hide-and-seek are waiting to be re-discovered, as we all hit the pause button on our lives.
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