If there was one consequence, intended or otherwise, of the pandemic, then the “shift” to the Digital Age is perhaps the most consequential of the many ways in which that the pandemic has impacted us. Right from WFH or Work From Home arrangements, with Zoom calls for meetings, and a completely virtual mode of working, to ordering everything from groceries to everyday essentials as well as luxury goods online, to even attending virtual Zumba dance classes, the Digital Age is well and truly upon us. Indeed, without the conveniences offered by our Smartphones and other gadgets, even getting vaccinated would have become difficult, considering the very important role that Apps have played as far as registration and booking appointments for vaccinations, testing, quarantine, and other aspects of this health emergency were concerned. Maybe, The Only Good From The Pandemic Is That It Has Ushered In The Digital Age.
Having said that, the transition to the Digital Age has not been without real consequences for all of us. Working from home led to high burnout rates and the phenomenon of The Great Resignation, wherein Millennials and Gen Zers have been quitting the workforce en masse. As I point out in this article, there have to be reasons for Why So Many 18 to 25 Year Olds Burning Out and Quitting Their Jobs. On the other hand, there is also a chorus of voices from working professionals to continue WFH or at least, make Hybrid Work Models (onsite + remote working) the norm to ensure that We Navigate The Brave New World of Work in a productive and healthy manner. However, WFH and Always On Work Modes are leaving us exhausted as I explain in this article, Why Are We Feeling So Overwhelmed?
This shift to the Digital Age has been called the New Normal and while it was pleasurable initially, as we get used to it, we are also simultaneously experiencing a sense of weirdness, as I argue here, where Weirdness Is The New Normal. So, what is it about the Digital Age and our pandemic induced dependency on it that is taking us into uncharted waters? Is it the nature of technology itself, wherein Exponential Acceleration due to the Moore’s Law that specifies how Computing Power doubles every two years, making us run a Never Ending Treadmill to Nowhere, in a Sisyphean manner (Sisyphus is a Greek Mythological Figure who was similarly engaged in a futile pursuit of rolling a boulder up the hill, only to find that it rolled down back again, leading to endless and fruitless iterations that made him start all over again each time).
In addition to the weirdness of our daily lives, there is also a lingering sense of “feeling the blues” as the pandemic forced us to isolate and rely on Digital modes of living and working. Human contact and personal interactions are now mediated by the virtual, where it is increasingly becoming difficult to separate the real from the artificial. This is what I analyze here, as I point out that The World Is Experiencing A Bad Case of The Post Pandemic Blues. Moreover, with our “addiction” to technology, We Have All Become Junkies, and are Living In A Reality TV Show kind of existence, where we increasingly feel as though “unseen” forces shape our lives, with us having little agency or control over our lives.
No wonder we are subject to Present Shock, where everything happens “now” and the virality of memes, Tweets, Facebook posts, and sundry videos dictate how we live and work. This is the premise which I explain here detailing how all of us are Forced to Live For the Moment and Struggle for Existence. Compounding this is the increasing complexity of our tech driven lives, where even Elites Who Added Layers of Complexity, are now “clueless” as to how to manage the present world in which we live. This clueless approach is what is driving governments to look for “ghosts and jinns” in all places, with India’s Crackdown On Big Tech, being a prime example of how to “kill the golden goose” in a self destructive manner.
Of course, it is not like our present Pandemic catalyzed virtual existence is all “doom and gloom”. Some notable achievements include how Data, which is the New Oil, is sought to be regulated and ownership determined so as to make the Digital experience smoother for all of us. In addition, governments worldwide are also moving to Streamline the Gig Economy, which is here to say. Moreover, as we bid goodbye to the Industrial Age, we also need to prepare for the Digital Age, by discarding legacy systems that were built around the Industrial societies. For instance, The 9 to 5 Workday Is a Relic of the Industrial Revolution, and now, we have to reorient our lives around Anytime, Anywhere work arrangements.
Last, a nod to the “power” of digital media is in order. LinkedIn has been a source of much joy to those who persevered and persisted in their efforts to become Influencers, Thought Leaders, and Star Freelancers. So, a big shout out to this and other such platforms for being the New Age equivalents of the Gutenberg Printing Press, and LinkedIn needs to be commended for standing up for Free Speech. However, one must also caution against excessive “positivity” as most of us are simply Drinking The Kool Aid of Aspiration here. To conclude, as we navigate the New Normal, it is important to remember that what we are living through is a shift of epic proportions and is comparable to the era in the immediate aftermath of the First Industrial Revolution. The Digital Age has been called the Fourth Industrial Revolution and it is well and truly upon us, and I hope I have put together some of my thoughts and insights on how we manage this monumental transition.
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