At the end of the previous century I got married. In Las Vegas. No, it is not a joke, we loved each other and just moved to the States; we decided to roll the dice. We bought an old car and if the car could make the trip, our love would be sealed. It did. Except our son, none of our family or friends were there to celebrate with us physically, but…it was an exciting time and everyone we invited across the world could follow the ceremony on webcam from the Little White Chapel. 1999. Although we broke up our marriage along the way, online, we are still friends. Now our son is getting married, times have changed. We have come a long way in our digital development, we are used to connect through screens. Yet the current corona crisis makes it blatantly clear how much we need physical contact. We won’t be able to attend our son’s wedding, but at least we can follow the ceremony online.

We have learned and gotten used to communicating using digital tools via digital devices, interfaces dividing our physical beings. Yet when our physical beings are geographically separated we can simulate physical closeness via our digital devices. Worlds apart, worlds reshuffled. I started using online teaching tools in the first years of the 21st century and the ability to create and analyze large amounts of data was pretty cool, but soon something started to trouble me, online communication was not so easy and what about all this data, did it become digital diarrhea? What about digital sustainability?  We thought the digital would provide a representation of the physical world, only better., augmented. It is not. Our online worlds, ruled by digital tools and devices are differently coded than our physical worlds. 

Don’t get me wrong; it is wonderful to be able to connect to different worlds, taking different perspectives never before possible. I am glad I can attend the wedding digitally, although I would have preferred to be there in physical person. 

Then again, the digital world is not a copy, it is not a replacement, experiences in the physical world are radically different than one’s that can be had in digital/virtual environments. The digital pollution is real, impacting our health. So enjoy the digital, but beware, embrace the physical, just not as much at the moment.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(18)30221-3/fulltext

https://www.nature.com/articles/srep14914