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Quarantine in 2020: isolated but hyperconnected

Quarantine in 2020: isolated but hyperconnected

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Two children with masks play with a mobile phone in Panama

WhatsApp groups fuming, Netflix suffering a crash of their servers and big telecos calling for rational and responsible use of the network. They are the consequences of being isolated in 2020, in the midst of hyperconnectivity.

I imagine a world without the Internet in such a situation of total paralysis and I think of something similar to 23-F »

The crisis of coronavirus It has confined millions of Spaniards in their homes, placing them in a situation of vulnerability and uncertainty unknown to date. You can only leave due to force majeure: work, food and health. No leisure, no family gatherings, no walks.

Living a situation like this during many days “It can return to a neurotic person,” he says. The Independent the expert Enrique Dans, who has spent years studying the effects of technology on society. «The human being needs contact, he needs to feel free. The feeling of being cloistered is not pleasant. And technology can take away some toughness, “adds Dans, professor of Innovation and Technology at the Instituto de Empresa.

A great paradox

The journalist Marta Garcia-Aller, who will soon publish the book The unpredictable, sees a “huge paradox” in our current behavior: “The use of formats that already existed but that we did not use intensively is accelerating. For example, video calls between family members in the same city. It has been something technologically possible for years, but it has not spread until we miss seeing each other ».

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“It has always been thought that video calls would replace normal calls, but this has not been the case,” he adds. «Video calls have replaced contact, touching. Right now we have more present than ever the digital, but each time the din of the absence of the presence becomes much louder ».

In the first days of confinement, it has been possible to see gym classes online, music concerts on YouTube such as the #YoMeQuedoEnCasa Festival, distance school classes, friends who stay to have some “tele-beers”, virtual tours to museums and cures They offer their masses live on social networks. Many video, music, journalism or leisure magazine platforms are opening their content for free. Entertainment for all ages. Over the weekend, the number of people connected to the network was such that Telefonica, Orange, Vodafone, MasMovil and Grupo Euskaltel warned of a “traffic explosion” and launched a guide to avoid collapse in anticipation that the quarantine will last several weeks.

The importance of contact

In fact, the human being is not designed or prepared to live in isolation: and these days he is finding in technology a great ally to avoid becoming crazy. In the last week, the networks have shot up their traffic by 40% and the use of mobile voice increases by around 50% and 25% in the case of data. The use of WhatsApp has quintupled and that of Skype has quadrupled. “All this is accelerating the feeling that presence is much more important than was valued,” says Garcia-Aller. “Before, there was no need to see each other because we could do it. And now we think: ‘How lucky are those who can be seen ‘».

We are more aware of digital than ever, but the roar of the absence of face-to-face is becoming much louder »

“Contact is important to us, contact with information, with other people, with work,” continues Professor Dans. “Although we are isolated at home, we have a lot of entertainment at hand. You can even put on virtual reality glasses and experience other environments, something that can relieve a good part of your stress. Surely someone comes to say that the excess of screens is bad, but no, far from it. And less in such a situation.

Marc Vidal, author of the book, agrees with this vision The age of humanity: towards the fifth industrial revolution. “Many times we adopt technology as something bad and we think that it has come to complicate our lives. But technology has improved our existence, has improved our life expectancy, and has improved the ability to reveal yourself against a situation like this. ”


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How would we overcome such a pandemic without the Internet?

Imagine this same situation 30 or 40 years ago. Locked up at home, without the Internet, only with the radio, a couple of television channels and books for entertainment. Most people couldn’t even telework. “I imagine a world without the Internet in such a situation of total paralysis and I think of radio and television,” says Vidal. “I think of something similar to 23-F: I remember that night with my father stuck to the transistor and looking for news on television.”

If this lasts for several weeks, it will see brutal stress for companies and individuals »

“It would have taken much more ahead. The production system would be completely zero. Without technology and everyone at home would be a much more serious situation.

Luckily, technology allows us to keep much of our routines in full confinement. “My classes are not identical, but they are just as profitable and my relationship with the students has not changed, they see my face, they see my presentations, they participate in class,” says Dans. «The other day I did an online exam, checking that they did not copy: you activate your webcam, you check that they are always in front of the computer, that you do not speak to anyone, that you do not use your mobile phone or headphones…»

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This crisis is also proving that teleworking can be a future option for many companies. «I analyze the coronavirus pandemic also as an opportunity. We should take advantage and learn that you can work productively from home. In addition, we would make everything much more sustainable, “says the professor at the Instituto de Empresa.

“Yes,” says Vidal in this regard, “many people will realize that you can go to the office three days instead of five. But if this lasts for several weeks, you will see brutal stress for companies and individuals. Telecommuting works when there is something to telecommute… »


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