Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Final Solution: Coronavirus and Socialization

Human beings are social animals, but how does one connect to humanity in the age of COVID-19? Can Zooming be regarded a substitute for socialization? And conversely what about road rage or getting in a fistfight on the street? Perhaps, looking at a possible silver lining, social distancing mandates will prevent people from having destructive interactions which could ultimately result in manslaughter charges. On a less salubrious note one is left with  Plato’s famed allegory in which elusive ideal forms are only perceivable as shadows on a wall. There's no doubt that the camera image from a computer or laptop only gives a highly abbreviated notion of the person you once knew and it’s debatable whether it contains the signature qualities of even say an old-fashioned hand written letter. In addition, seeing someone on a computer screen is a little like one of those enigmatic messages in a bottle, that washes up on the shore. Zooming is the technology du jour and its praises are routinely sung by the vast audience it now commands. But how can one talk about interaction without the perception of a human body moving along a trajectory in time? The Zoom screen is highly artificial and only a relatively minor advancement from the old-fashioned slide show on which business presentations and family albums were displayed. Encounters between human beings are, in actuality, complex events involving a variety of psychological, neurological (remember mirror neurons) and even spiritual elements. Further one wonders how human beings will acclimate themselves to each other after long periods of isolation in which human contact is limited to digitized forms of communication. There’s no doubt that being alone in a room with another person is far different from being alone with a pixelated image.

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