Unpopular Opinion: No Need to Replace Actual Life with Virtual Reality

We are three weeks into this COVID-19 quarantine. When the quarantine went into effect, the uncertainty and tension was palpable, even from a social distance. I understand that; it’s hard to accept such a massive change in routine with such far-reaching impacts for nearly everyone. I think, in order to cope, we went overboard trying to compensate for cancelled classes, working away from the office, and activities that had to be erased from the calendar. And so everything came to be replaced with a virtual version of itself.

A Virtual Reality

In less than a month, education was taken out of the classroom and brought into homes through online learning management systems and Zoom classes. Parents who had only ever worked outside of the home traded days at the office to work from their dining room tables with their children, no doubt, underfoot. Baseball practices and dance classes would be held via Facebook Live. This new, virtual way of life was designed with the best of intentions, a way to help us keep some form of routine. But, if I’m being honest, I don’t love it. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. I absolutely appreciate those on the other end putting in the time and effort to pull it off, but it might not be for me.

Irreplaceable

I’m not sure it’s healthy to replace what was lost with technology. Life just cannot be normal right now; we need to accept that rather than scramble to replicate the way things used to be. I keep a detailed, color-coded planner with stickers and doodles, and seeing white space kills me. I deeply understand the need to fill those spaces, but I can’t insist that we fill our empty time slots with virtual versions of what would normally be there.

A Lesson (not over Zoom) in Coping

This is an opportunity to teach our children about resilience. It is a time to demonstrate how to cope with disappointment as a natural part of life; sometimes, we just have to sit with that disappointment for a little while. It’s certainly possible to do this while showing empathy and doing your best to keep things fun and upbeat. Our children will never forget this historical time in their lives, and I hope they can look back and remember happy times. However, rather than remember that our usual lives took place online, I want those memories to be filled with family game nights, long bike rides, cooking, art, reading for pleasure, and occasionally sitting alone being bored. I want them to remember what it was like to have baseball cancelled so that next season, they appreciate it that much more. I want them to feel what it means to miss a best friend so that when they reunite, the hug will be that much tighter.

All that said, I still won’t accept a planner with blank space. I just have it labeled differently now, with intentional appointments to take walks, dye eggs, and play outside…and it’s filled with a lot more flower stickers.

Alyson Haggerty
Alyson lives in Metairie with her husband, Patrick, their 7 and 4 year-old boys, and their Morkie, Beignet. After teaching for almost ten years, she left a career in education and is now a full-time nursing student. In her hypothetical free time, Alyson would enjoy flipping furniture, writing, and dancing. She is always looking for a racquetball partner and loves streetcar rides and playing board games with her family. A good cook, she is constantly on a quest to answer the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” but has thus far been unsuccessful.

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