Our Virtual Epidemic Year – New York Times

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The epidemic, which officially hit the one-year mark on Thursday, showed how much technology we need – but also that it is not the solution to our biggest challenges.

Here are three things I have learned over the past 12 months: Technology showed its utility by helping people and businesses manage through crises. Our growing digital life has also created new problems that will be difficult to fix. And the most important things have nothing to do with technology.

Let’s talk about each of these.

First of all, I am grateful that technology helped us many millions of people through work, school and family life. It also made us informed when it makes little sense.

I’m glad that my apartment was able to be at Tech’s headquarters. I entertained myself with digital books and streaming videos, and I kept in touch with friends and family through screens. I have chosen to shop at local businesses to see if I can place an order online and reserve time for pickup. Technology has helped many of us stay away from normalcy in an epidemic.

A big question, as my colleague Steve Lohar Wrote this week, How permanently work and consumption patterns have changed over the past year. (The most honest answer: who knows?)

Those who follow technology and people’s habits all say that the epidemic had invented some digital behaviors out of the blue, but mostly it was the rapidly advancing digital trends that had already worsened.

more people Learned to order your groceries online, Tried and liked restaurant delivery services, connected with more people than video games, was used Meetings on zoom And made appointments with his doctors by video call. A lot of this was out of necessity, but Helpful aspects were For digital life Store, fitness studio And many other businesses have been forced to quickly adapt to what consumers want.

I hope we can keep the best of these new behaviors and attitudes. I am also concerned that those gains came with a profound decline – and that the upside is not shared equally.

It is my everlasting fury that so many Americans, especially Black and latino people And those living in rural areas, Cannot access internet from home. And We don’t really know the size of the problem.

And the technology that promised to bring more income to restaurant owners, product traders and job seekers during challenging times also created new and unwanted dependencies On digital intermediaries, Such as DoorDash, Amazon and Uber. effect And Can be economical Big tech superpowers become even more luminous. If the new digital economy – like the old economy – does not work for everyone, it will be a failure.

And my lasting memory of the last 12 months is that technology often does not matter very much.

Human and Human Powered Institutions Last year’s presidential election dragged on with some problems. Humans were also largely responsible for undermining credibility in election results.

Humans were the most important factor in knowing about each other as well as the choice of policy makers. Keep people safe – or not – during the epidemic. And the magic of the coronovirus vaccine and the protests demanding a more fair country were far less than what we think of as technology.

It has been a long, terrible year and let’s hope the next 12 months will be brighter. And we should also keep in mind that people, not technology, change the world.

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We want to hear about a technical habit that you started during the epidemic. Share with On Tech how it has helped you manage the past year or achieve your creativity. What do you like (and hate) about your new virtual behavior? Do you see yourself keeping it?

Please provide your full name and where you live (city or city and state or country). We can publish the selection in an upcoming newspaper. You can reach us ontech@nytimes.com.


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“I told him my name is Tony, to which he sarcastically replied ‘Like Tony Hawk haha.

The most famous skateboarder in history met a child in a skate park who did not recognize him. It was amazing. (This happened in 2019, but the internet was a rage Hawk’s Twitter thread Popular again this week.)


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