Digital covid remains and why I hate them

As this course is coming to an end I think we have all realised it: the world is digitalising and oh boy is it going fast. Something that has certainly sped digital innovations up has been the Covid-19 pandemic that lasted for an extensive period of time. Due to nationwide lockdowns and social distancing norms the rapid digital adjustments were inevitable, as we had to adjust to new ways of life, such as working from home, increase in Blockchain Technology, and a rise of gig workers (1). Now, after the pandemic, quite a few of these innovations have stayed, and I must say that I am not too happy about some of these “innovations”.

Increase in digital customer interactions due to pandemic (Source: McKinsey)

Online working and school

With lockdowns and social distancing, almost all people had to work from home, and students had to follow their lessons from home. However, after everything opened up again, working from home and online education had become a lot more common. Especially working from home, as I read in research from the American Economic Association that twice as many workers work from home full time after the pandemic, and that for most people, one in five instead of one in seven days is work from home (2). I also noticed changes in my studies as there was way more online lectures, prerecorded lectures and self-study hours after covid.

Working from home had already proven to have quite some disadvantages in the covid-era. The RIVM for example found out that people working from home had way higher risk of health problems such as back pain and other physical complaints from bad work equipment. Also the mental health of people working from home was negatively affected, people working from home showed way higher risk of feeling alone and isolated from the rest of the world (3).

I also read in research that online classes were way less favourable for both students and teachers. Regular in person classes were found to be more efficient, interaction and understanding. The overall knowledge transfer and learning process were just better (4). These are all things that I recognize for myself, as I found it hard to pay attention and actually be productive in online classes, and also struggles I have heard among a lot of my peers.

However, there are some advantages to online learning in terms of comfort and convenience. Especially if the infrastructure improves, which already had happened enormously since the pandemic. I think that I maybe should try to work on some of my struggles as it probably will be inevitable.

Digitalisation in public places

First of all, I have noticed that some social interactions in everyday life have been digitalised, or now involve the use of a digital device, which makes the interaction way less social and pure. I think that a good example of this (which also greatly frustrates me ;)) is the menus and ordering at restaurants. Before covid, all restaurants had paper menus which a server would bring to your table or would already be there. During covid, it was due to the spread of germs on these menus that restaurants would introduce a digital menu which could be read on your phone, for example by scanning a QR-code. Sometime there even was the option to directly order so that the server would not have to have to much interaction. After covid, in quite some places this stayed (4). The problem with this for me is that now everyone at the table is looking on their phones, firstly to see the menu but they often get distracted and stay on their phone for longer. In my opinion, this really kills some of the coziness of eating at restaurant. I also miss the interaction with the server if there is an online ordering option. These things just kill the cozy vibe a bit for me.

I could not find other sources that agree with me on this, as these QR-code menus become more widely accepted (4). It does also come with the negative consequences that some people do not understand how to work with a QR-code, and that there are other technical complications. But there is also a great amount of benefits listed, which means I probably will have to accept this becoming common.