This week has already shown us that there’s more than one curve in play.
There’s the COVID-19 infection curve that we’re trying to flatten by staying home.
And there’s the steep learning curve that some of us non-techy people are navigating to live life remotely.
Some of us aren’t dealing with this well, as wrestling with new technology adds anxiety to an already stressful time.
These weeks are full of glitches — um, don’t scratch there when your camera is still on — and the patiently patronizing tones we take as we talk each other through the connection process.
You’re still muted. The attachment didn’t come through. Will you share this out to the group? Did you mean to type that?
We are seeing our co-workers and children’s teachers in new ways. Their pets and children wander into our conferences — or are grabbed up and used as props. We see snatches of their home decor. We don’t judge anyone who wears pajamas in the afternoon, any more.
But we are the lucky ones, and these struggles are those of privilege.
Many of us have lost our jobs completely. Newsweek reported Tuesday that our state’s unemployment claims have surged 2,100 percent in a single week. According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity typically receives 5,000 claims in a week. This week skyrocketed to 108,710 claims. Not surprisingly, the technical glitches of the now-overwhelmed system is causing delays and anxiety for a mass of our people.
Kids aren’t exempt from the digital divide, with the deficit in their family circumstances now impacting their school work.
Teachers and extracurricular instructors are leaping online to connect with their students, and for those kids with means, the interaction is a blessed break from family time.
But many kids don’t have a device to use or internet at home. Now that the shutdown has extended through April 13, we’re glad to see school districts across the state, including TCAPS, offering children a device to pick up and use during this time. That still won’t cover everyone but it’s a positive step, as we figure out what to do with a school year that’s only 70 percent complete, and online learning not counting toward school days.
No one said that this new way of living would be easy, but it will be temporary.
There’s also much to be thankful for by way of technology, and the easy-to-use platforms are quickly rising to our own personal “essential” status, while others, when stress-tested, fall away (we’re talking to YOU, social media!).
These curves have thrown us all for a curveball, and while some of us can adapt, many others are being left out of the game entirely.