Almost as soon as the various levels of quarantine were announced, Instagram shots of people working from home cropped up. As the cabin fever intensifies, so do the levels of creativity and intimacy of social media posts.
For those of us able to telecommute, we are getting never-before-seen glimpses of our colleagues’ homes. Though most of us ensure there isn’t laundry or an empty box of Velveeta in the background, there is a true lack of the sparkling veneer found in the pre-quarantine selfie world. I’ve loved seeing different styles of rooms and levels of clutter in the background of people’s conference feeds. And I’ve felt a looseness and connectivity that frankly was lacking before. If a dog or a kid wanders into the frame, even better.
It’s a by-product of collective bewilderment that we’ve opened up our homes to each other. We certainly could speak on the telephone, but there is a basic human need to connect visually. Outside of the new aspect of work life that reveals our coworkers less than pressed, is the seemingly endless sense of humor of folks. Anyone who hated Tik Tok before COVID-19, hold your tongue and get on there now. People across the world who may never have considered dancing, exercising, baking or goofing off online are producing some of the funniest seconds-long clips you’ll see.
And then there are the commentators on the national news, broadcasting from book-laden offices, kitchen counter tops or temporary home studios. Some of these familiar cable news faces opine and report from their homes which feels, again, like a much more intimate way of communicating and viewing. Sure, there are glitches and blurry screens. Calls are dropped and microphones aren’t perfect. But the settings are warm and provide a glimmer of relaxation in the middle of the most un-relaxing time in recent history.
Finally, perhaps the most inevitable intersection of personal lives and technology today is the virtual happy hour. Whole departments at work are doing it, as are alumni classes and good friends. It’s Cheers without the traffic. Toasting without the clink. But it sure feels good when very little else does.
Editor’s note: The Historical Society of Mount Lebanon is calling on past and present Mt. Lebanon residents of all ages to send their personal stories of how the pandemic is impacting their lives. Whether you are staying at home in self-quarantine or working through the crisis, your story is unique and important. Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org . Please put PANDEMIC 2020 in the “Subject” field of your email. If you prefer to use paper and pen, the mailing address is: The Historical Society of Mount Lebanon, 794 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15228. The Historical Society will keep these documents in our archives and depending upon the response, may use them in an exhibit or share them on its Facebook page in the future.