Australia, blogging, Food, Mental Health, Philosophy

Hollow Online Experiences

When the internet came along, it was suggested that everything would be done online, from shopping to employment and communications. Individuals would not need to leave home to live their consumer lives.

The public however, has shown that we are primarily social creatures and are reluctant to embrace a completely virtual lifestyle. Whilst online shopping has undoubtedly increased, it wasn’t the tidal wave envisaged by the tech industry, until Covid 19 came along.

Our lives have become more virtual, whether we liked it, or not.

Getting takeout or takeaway doesn’t seem to give us the same experience as dining in at a restaurant or cafe. Neither does the online shopping experience feel quite as satisfying as the benefits of browsing in person at a store, feeling the fabric in a garment, physically trying on clothing, or chatting to another shopper, seeing what is around.

Because it is not just the objective alone, that is important.

It’s the whole consumer experience.

The atmosphere at the cafes and shops is attractive to us through our senses: the watching of people; the smells, sights and sounds; (overwhelming for some), or the conversation with friends you meet whilst shopping; the interaction with Cafe staff and fellow diners; the inspirational decor on the walls, or from the books on the shelves in a bookstore; even the art on the walls.

All of this, together, gives us a pleasurable sensory experience that is clearly important to us, as a comment on my second blog alluded.

“We human beings are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”

Dalai Lama

Benefits of Covid and Virtual Lifestyle

During the Covid lockdown, skies, streets and air appears cleaner and we have more time on our hands. None of that horrid sitting stuck in traffic on the way home from work, or rushing to catch a crowded train with a million other commuters at 5pm.

Other people discover there is time to get to know their kids, becoming involved, by choice or necessity, in their education, or generally engaging with them more because there is little ecternal events to absorb their time. (Albeit for some, this could be far more stressful and family life might suffer from a lack of outside exposure, stimulation or influence).

All wonderful benefits of an enforced, semi-virtual life.

scenic cafe window- pensive

Yet, it seems even introverts or socially phobic individuals have struggled with being cooped up during the Covid pandemic.

We, as humans, seem to value social interaction above any virtual experience.

Cafe Society Lifestyle

Prior to the appearance of Covid, the Cafe society was a popular lifestyle choice in Australia. When cafes closed down in lock-down, no one knew what would happen. Aussie Cafes/Diners and Restaurants were legally allowed to operate only on a takeaway, (takeout), basis.

Many chose to close, temporarily, or permanently and the alfresco cafe dining experience came to an abrupt end.

al fresco dining restaurant

The Beach Esplanade, near my home, is lined with popular cafes and restaurants of all persuasions and cuisines. Being smaller businesses, most have closed completely, but some remain open. Last night, I placed a phone order for a ‘Quarantine Pack’, at one of the restaurants. Being a Friday night, I wondered what I’d find when I arrived for the meal.

At the Italian restaurant itself, a makeshift pick-up counter was laid out with social distancing markers in the formerly packed out al fresco dining area. Customers awaited their order in silence, or hushed in conversations with their partner, spaced well apart from each other. This was a very different picture to the regular Friday night.

On the opposite side of the road, overlooking the sea, couples and small family groups sat on benches or rugs, at the required social distance, eating their takeaway meals and watching the moonlight filtering over the waves, lapping the shore.

It was another life, but it was okay. Not ideal, but it had a beauty all of its own, even a little nostalgic or romantic perhaps.

It begs the question as to how much of a virtual lifestyle we can lead?

Is it possible for human beings to live like this, at all?

stpa logo

51 thoughts on “Hollow Online Experiences”

  1. No, I wouldn’t want a Virtual Lifestyle. However, I do relish the connections I have made through blogging, a few of which have turned into real face-to-face friendships with people I could never otherwise have met.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Friendships can surprise us sometime they stem from the most unlikely of places, Margaret. Like you, I have made friends through blogging and met the bloggers face to face. It was as if I had known them for many years. Which is a strange feeling to have in regard to someone you’ve only communicated with through words on a screen.
      I think a completely virtual life could only succeed if you were born to it.

      Liked by 2 people

          1. In London. Sue lives not so far away, and I often visit The Big City to see my London family. I met another blogger called Susan on that occasion, and Sue’s introduced me via Zoom to two other blogging friends. And I’ve met people who read my blog, but aren’t bloggers, in London and France. It’s a small world!

            Liked by 1 person

          2. The internet has indeed made the world a smaller place. It is lovely that you have made these connections. I have met bloggers in New Zealand, other parts of Australia and one from Canada when she was visiting Australia and almost met a blogger friend in Sweden, ( late cancellation), However, E-pals – the modern version of penpals, has resulted in the most wonderful friendships, and holidays in the North of Sweden, Iceland, Germany and Denmark. Without the internet, I would never have had those experiences. I am truly grateful for that. Were you into writing to penpals? It seemed a natural progression to blogging from there.

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    1. I think we are so fortunate to be able to communicate so quickly with friends overseas. We take for granted instant messaging when once communications with the other side of the world took many months.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Undoubtedly, there have been benefits to stat at home orders, Sheree and I have not had much trouble adapting as I am always busy at home.
      Whether I would choose to is quite a different matter though. What are the things you like the most?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Time for reflection and an appreciation of what we do have, as you mentioned, is important. For someone who often travels, it sounds like you have adapted well, Sheree. I love seeing all the stars too. I love that tree planet is fighting back. I hope this teaches us something today remains.

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  2. Sitting at home I can shop but can’t get deliveries to my place in the forest, I can order food but can’t get deliveries to my place in the forest, I can go to town, run into people I know, have a conversation. Have a casual conversation with a shop employee and enjoy a social interaction with acquaintances and strangers for as long as I can stand it. That is something I can’t get delivered at home

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are both advantages and disadvantages to life in the forest, aren’t there, Brian?
      Some deliveries could be made c/- a general store closer to you, perhaps?
      I used to send deliveries of wine to such places, in remote areas, by prior arrangement. Although these days, those stores are a dying breed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The nearest store is about 20kms further up the highway from my place. If I can get the place I order stuff from to use Aust Post I can get deliveries but most companies have contracts with courier companies

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          1. Well I am about 1.2kms from the highway so some noise and there is a quarry over the road which is quite noisy at times. I had a peaceful existence until the quarry opened. Sundays are bliss

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          2. Oh no….I am not one of their favourite neighbours and a huge B double gravel truck trundling with a parcel down the road wouldn’t make me popular

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  3. I’m so tired of this virtual lifestyle! I have liked ordering groceries online and will continue with it after all this has passed. I have also done most of my clothes and shoe shopping online even before the outbreak, so that’s fine. But not being able to hang out in cafes, restaurants and museums with friends, that’s agony! I’m thankful for take-away though, the last time I have done as much cooking was when I was at home with the kids. It’s quite an ordeal trying to whip up new dishes all the time 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I miss that cafe experience too but it I think it helps us not take our lifestyle for granted.
      I am also glad that you’re doing more cooking but totally relate to that ‘Groundhog Day’ kind of feeling of, “What can I cook tonight?” It’s the repetitive ongoing nature of making family meals every night that stifles energy and creativity in the kitchen. Have you tried making a weekly menu plan, Suvi? That helps me sometimes.

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      1. Yes I do have a rough weekly menu plan, as I order groceries online and have to have some idea of what I will cook 😅 I have a lot of variety in my cooking but have to say that the days when we get meals delivered are a blessing for me 🥳 Thank goodness take-out is allowed! 👍

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  4. While nothing can replace authentic tete-a-tete interaction, there are many things I absolutely enjoy about living in an Internet era 😀 like for instance, I can enjoy blogs from around the world and interact with totally different cultures and worlds, say, seven time zones from mine 😀 I’ve made amazing blogger friends this way, it’s a virtual family, but still feels close 🙂 I also learned cooking from YouTube, honestly, my boys are forever grateful I use the Internet on a daily basis lol 😀 I can work from home and the boys were able to take their classes online during the two-month lockdown we had, that was life-saving for our tiny household 🙂
    are lockdown measures still effective in Australia? sending lots of warm thoughts your way, stay safe :))

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your detailed comment elucidates many of the wonderful benefits that the world wide web gives us. I love all that about it. About 15 years ago when the internet first came to our household, we experienced a severe hail storm in my city. I took photos of the hail and damage afterwards and emailed them to my penfriend in Germany, a friend who we had snail mailed letters to previously. She was sitting at home in Germany and read my email to her, about an hour after the hailstorm had concluded. 2 hours later she saw a news report in Germany about the freak hail storm in Australia. That was when I realized how fast communications via internet could be.
      Youtube is amazing for education – for adults and children, but of course they are down sides, the children are exposed to bad things too. The benefits of finding out how to do ‘things’ – techniques etc that could only have been previously discovered via a book, and finding the right book in your bookstore are truly a gift. Want a particular recipe, google it. Want to know where a particular place is? Google it. Nearest police station in a foreign place. Google it. We are truly blessed to have it.
      Lock down has not really been an issue for me, as I quite like being at home – I have so many projects on the go at the same time. The measures have been really effective in Australia. Even though the authorities were slow to act, we have a really low Covid rate. If they didn’t let passengers of one of the cruise ships recently – we would have next to no cases at all. Travellers are the ones that have brought the virus here unfortunately. But we are an island and that does help contain it. Whereabouts in the world are you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, the books, as you mentioned them, to this day I prefer printed books… but I still order them oline lol 🙂
        I’m glad to hear the Covid rate is low where you are, hope it stays low…!! it’s the same here, in the Balkans, I live in Bulgaria 🙂
        wishing you a lovely new week ahead!!

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        1. Likewise it is good to hear Bulgaria’s Covid rate is low too. Especially as you are closer than we are to the concentration of cases in the Italian region.
          Thanks for the weekend wishes. It is now Monday morning as I read this.
          I alsp prefer reading a printed book and only read articles or blogs online. I stated a PDF book but never finished it. I spend far too long looking at a screen already. It is more restful to recline on the lounge or in bed with a book.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. If I ruled the world, social connections and in-person transactions would return. The traffic and crowds, though, would stay away. My husband and I had to go to a store yesterday (delivery wasn’t available) and he remarked that the number of cars on the road reminded him of the 70s. We live in a large city that attracts lots of tourists (usually)… it would be nice to go back to the sleepy Navy town we once were.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is a glimpse into the past and cause to stop and reflect what we have come to. I feel the same way about the traffic. It is actually pleasant because we are habitutated to lots of traffic. I am mentally preparing for traffic jams again though. Our country is forging ahead with a slow opening up process.

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  6. I do love my blogging connections Amanda, many of which have turned into real time and good friends. And the internet has been a godsend for keeping in touch with friends. But I’ve never been one for online shopping and I can’t wait for the day when I can sit, real time, in a cafe enjoying a real life chat and coffee with friends. I think we’re essentially a social species!

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    1. Interesting that you have never been one to get into online shopping, Miriam. I do understand that. Whilst I am okay with most home delivery options I do like to have choice in the matter.
      And I would find it hard to go back to the days of relying on the postal service for all communications. Do you think there would be more mental health implications if we don’t have social outlets?

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  7. Uuummm the virtual world may seem very confortable, doing everything from home… But yes, I miss the interaction!! And so many businesses depend on that interaction that even two months of lockdown mean total bankruptcy for them…
    But now that things are starting to open again and after staying at home for more than 2 months, I find myself with mixed feelings about returning to normal life! Even if the numbers of new cases in Zurich have dropped to less than 10 per day, I haven’t gone to the city, taken public transport or going to any shop (except supermarket) yet… I’m happy to see shops and restaurants open, but I’m not in a hurry to go inside them… just yet! I think I have the cabin syndrome now…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny how shutting yourself away to an extent has become acceptable when a year ago, such actions would have branded suchpeople as recluses. A lot of us have begun to reassess the way we do things and the way we live. Rather than busting to get outside, some people are realising that life at home can be enjoyable and the slower pace is in some ways attractive. A good time to re-assess our core values, Mercedes. Businesses have been forced to quickly adapt or fail. It is distressing for those businesses affected and extremely sad to see them disappear, but would this have happened anyway, in a much more protracted manner?
      Covid has indeed been the cataclysmic event causing sudden radical changes. We need interaction, but do we need as much as we thought?

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