Why we’re lucky COVID-19 has come now

Something disaster movies never taught me is how boring and lonely the apocalypse would be

I’m sure it doesn’t come as news to you that lockdown is really, really boring. As someone who has been in isolation for a week thanks to a visit from the corona fairy and has another week ahead of me, it’s very wearing. I feel like a character in an RPG video game, with the world beyond my back gate unavailable until I’ve unlocked an achievement – that achievement being to stay home for two weeks with no change of scenery, seeing nobody but the other members of my small household, without losing my mind.

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Thankfully, in the year 2020 there are tools that allow us to hold onto some aspects of our normal lives until the restrictions on movements and socialisation are lifted in six months’ time. Videoconferencing has become a cornerstone not only of my life, but of so many others’ – I host regular virtual playdates, which largely mirror the real thing in consisting of broken conversations among the parents as we try to prevent our children from doing something dangerous. Virtual versions of refusing to get in the buggy and participate add extra authenticity.

Keeping up with family is also important, especially with those who are older or vulnerable and perhaps enduring a 12-week period of isolation (which puts my moaning about 14 days to shame). Once again, videoconferencing has, for many, come to the rescue.

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There are many platforms to choose from as well. Houseparty, which as a business tech journalist I’ll admit I’d never heard of until this week, has proved very popular and I also regularly see people recommending office stalwarts like Zoom in a quasi-reversal of the consumerisation of IT.

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Even our politics is increasingly being done remotely, as our Prime Minister, Health Secretary, Chief Medical Officer and more all find themselves in isolation having tested positive for COVID-19. The PM is apparently chairing COBRA meetings via video link, and continues to participate in some of the nightly broadcasts we rather quaintly tune into each night.

With the global pandemic we’ve been warned of for so long finally here, from a technology standpoint it couldn’t have arrived at a better time. A vast array of tools are at our disposal to allow business to carry on somewhat as normal, despite us all being under direction to “stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives”, as well as maintaining social connections with colleagues, friends and family.

So let’s hear it for videoconferencing, although always be sure to check your security settings before you get stuck in.

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