Physical distancing but not social distancing

In the real world I continue to physically distance, wear a mask, and use a hand sanitizer every time I get back in the car while running essential errands like grocery shopping or going to the post office. Until COVID-19 is under control, which hopefully will be sometime later this year with the various phases of the vaccination trudging along slowly but surely, we have digital-world tools and services to be thankful for. As I always preach, we have to embrace the 21st century life skill of digital literacy!

Many digital-world tools and services help us accomplish essential tasks and that was even before this pandemic forced us to temporarily coop up at home. (The phrase "coop up" may only apply to me, who has a very small house, LOL.) Other digital-world tools and services are not about accomplishing tasks efficiently but more about new ways of receiving entertainment and life's other pleasures.

One such pleasure is visiting our family and friends. Here again COVID-19 has, at least temporarily, made it impossible to meet in person so a digital-world tool I wrote about for the first time in my column seven years ago has become critically valuable in my opinion. Video chat software was valuable to me even before the pandemic due to my parents being on the other side of the globe and may well be important for many during this pandemic where physical distancing but not social distancing is recommended.

I "Meet," Google's video meeting platform in a crowded field of choices, with my Mom everyday and sometimes even twice a day. I host meetings and classes on the "Zoom" platform and also use "Duo" for one-on-one video calls. As a way of reminder, Duo is a device agnostic service that enables Apple and Android-based smartphone users to communicate via video calling (unlike "FaceTime" that works only between Apple devices).

When "Meeting" with my Mom, unlike the meetings and classes I also conduct virtually these days, I don't have any agendas or syllabi. Rather, it's just small talk with live video of each other! It doesn't matter if we talk about the weather, how her grandson is doing, politics, or a recap of what she did that day. You may have already been making telephone calls to your loved ones for decades; digital world services like Meet, Zoom, Duo or FaceTime elevates the experience by adding visuals. Some may call it communication on steroids!

I've been video calling my parents for decades but Meeting daily with my Mom has been a more recent occurrence. Many times I've written in this column that I wish my Mom was only a driving distance away but video calling helps to shorten the distance between us. I'm no expert in human psychology but I can tell you with confidence that seeing and talking to her uplifts my spirits even when it's in the digital world. Sure, maybe not quite the same emotional connectedness intensity as seeing her in person but pretty darn good given the circumstances. If you haven't tried it, you might as well try now!

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:08 AM, 02.02.2021