How Coronavirus Is Finally Fulfilling the Internet’s Promise

This spring, teens are trying out their rented dresses and tuxedos, perfecting their makeup, and practicing their dance moves to get ready for that big prom night out in their own homes. Vacations have become staycations, and let’s-meet-at-Katra-Lounge-but-if-that’s-too-far-let’s-just-do-something-in-Williamsburg birthday plans have evolved into virtual parties that start with the exciting step of downloading Zoom.

Before the era of COVID-19, people were anxious about screen time destroying our ability to connect with each other in real life. But for those 13-year-olds who don’t want to cancel their bar mitzvahs and that couple who had their heart set on that anniversary trip, screens are now the best consolation prize.

Health crises eventually end, and soon, people will get comfortable being within 6-feet of each other. But in a post-pandemic world, we may realize being that close and touching a stranger’s hand isn’t even a risk we’re willing to take—or a risk we have to take.

“I think it’s going to make us consider what are the advantages? And what are the advantages of being there in person and what do we really miss and need?” says Ioana Literat, assistant professor of Communication, Media, and Learning Technologies Design at Columbia University. “I think that the emphasis should be on human agency. Right? It’s not what social media does to us, but what we do with social media.”

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