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How Video Chats Got Us Through Lockdown

by Paul Douglas 2 months ago in product review

Helping us work, socialise and play when meeting people wasn’t possible

How Video Chats Got Us Through Lockdown
Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

When the global pandemic hit the world like a bolt from the blue in 2020, it shocked us all. One day in March, I was at work, as usual, and the next day, I was sent home with the office shut down.

The initial lockdowns began to bite down hard. The Prime Minister’s daily briefings to the country made life seem surreal. It truly did seem like life imitating art. Like a zombie apocalypse come to life.

So, there we were, confined to our homes, forbidden to see our families for fear of spreading the virus. Daily life came to a grinding haunt.

Step in technology, if not so much to save the day, then at least to ease its passage.

Before our initial lockdown in 2020 I had rarely used video chat. Sure I had called family members before but usually only those family members living abroad.

By and large, the quality of that little front-facing camera on my phone and laptop was not something I had ever concerned myself with. Fast forward one year and before updating my devices I find myself reading the specification of the webcam. It is now as integral a part of my purchasing decision as is the device’s CPU, memory, or storage capacity.

One month into lockdown, like many others, I began to suffer family withdrawal symptoms. My wife and I missed meeting up with our family, sharing concerns, sharing gossip, having a laugh, and generally getting on with the business of having a social life.

Speaking on the telephone or calling across the street at one another during our daily period of exercise just didn’t do it for me. The intimacy of a face-to-face conversation with someone just can’t be beaten.

Enter video chats, the socially distanced medically approved method of gathering with friends and family.

During this period, if I had to message someone quickly I sent a text. If I wanted a longer conversation I didn’t make a phone call, I made a video call instead. Even now, this remains the case. Video calls have taken over my life.

I, like many others I’m sure, see more of my family now than ever before, and all from the comfort of my own home. Regular video chats with my family took place primarily on our mobile phones using WhatsApp when several people were on chat or Facebook Video Messenger when in a one-to-one scenario.

Every Saturday for months without end we took part in family quizzes held between my family’s four households. In the beginning, it was pure fun and a relief to be able to talk and share confidences and laugh with each other face to face.

We put on fancy dress costumes, played it for laughs, and had a few drinks. This was the tonic we all needed. A social life once again! As the weeks went by we got more competitive and the serious business of winning took over.

This aspect proved invigorating and thrilling and it helped as much as anything to take our minds off the daily pandemic news.

Elsewhere, the world of work largely moved from bricks and mortar to home-based with Microsoft Teams and Zoom taking over from in-person meetings. Laptops, headsets, and webcams became the tools of the trade, in many homes including my own.

Now, approaching the end of 2021 many of us are still working from home. In Northern Ireland, our restrictions have finally eased. Pubs and restaurants are once more welcoming paying customers.

I began working from home permanently during this time and as I have become as productive in my own surroundings as I ever had been in the office, I will happily continue to do so.

The humble webcam and video chat, once seldom used by all but the most tech-savvy of us is now the province of both young and old. It is now used for both work and play and its important place within our homes and our lives seems set to continue for the foreseeable future.

product review

Paul Douglas

I have always loved to write, especially poems and short stories. I also have an abiding love for technology and gaming. I love to share my outlook with others.

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Paul Douglas
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