Young woman using a laptop to connect with her friends and parents during quarantine. She's having a video conference during Coronavirus COVID-19 time.
Young woman using a laptop to connect with her friends and parents during quarantine. She's having a video conference during Coronavirus COVID-19 time.

ZOOM IN: Self-isolation launches 2nd digital revolution

THIS new homebound lifestyle thrust upon us has opened whole new markets to software designed to bring people closer together online. Zoom is now the app of choice for video communication.

For many, this COVID-19 isolation period is the dawning of a new awakening to the online world. So much so I'm going to label this major shift the second digital revolution.

Take my mother for instance. Only in recent years has she even bothered to have her mobile phone turned on when she's not using it. Yet in no time at all, she's attending pilates classes from her own home, and even holding bridge lessons via video online.

Technophobes across the world are switching on a part of their brain they've vehemently ignored like a dragon in the closet for the past 20 years, proving how adaptable we are as human beings, and how painless flicking that switch is.

That switch will remain turned on, and our lives will be changed forever. More and more people are discovering these new ways of doing things, which in many instances for various reasons prove better than before.

When mum dropped that double bombshell, it dawned on us that we can have virtual gatherings as a whole family, - not just the one-to-one FaceTime interactions the grandparents have with my little ones for example. Mum and dad in Central West NSW, myself in the Clarence, one brother on the Sunshine Coast and the other in Canada, can quite easily hook onto the same video call. We wouldn't have to wait until every other Christmas, a wedding or funeral to see each other in the same place at the same time.

COVID-19 has suddenly forced people to think of alternative ways to communicate, and 'coffee break' hangouts and livestream performances are fast becoming the norm.

We don't have much choice at the moment, but that's exactly the point. When things do return to some form of normality, it will still be the most practical form of communication.

This multi-faceted technology has been available for some time, and indeed I use it frequently in a work capacity, but the idea of using it for personal use simply had not yet been awakened. The knowledge was there, but the switch hadn't been flicked on.

Hopefully all these lifestyle changes are only temporary, and we return to some form of normality soon, when we can send our kids to play weekend sport, head out to see our favourite shows and, most importantly for many, return to work.

But like all major global crises, vestiges will be carried permanently into the future, and the legacy of coronavirus will be increased digital communication, both for personal use and working from home arrangements, as people and organisations utilise more convenient, cost-effective ways to communicate.

But there is a melancholic sadness to the realisation that in the long term these new habits inevitably mean more screen time and less face-to-face human contact and increasingly sedentary lifestyles, which was already a major issue of the modern world.

And unfortunately, while there are positives to be gained, it will also lead to an increase in negative and non-productive habits - children are no doubt clocking up unprecedented hours of mindless video games, porn channels shooting through the roof, and couch potatoes further endangering their health with daily movie marathons.