Meredith Stephens, Australia
Lockdown means that the notion of distance has been redefined within just a few weeks- what was once near is far, and yet thanks to technology, what was once far is near. We must now place distance between those who are in geographical proximity to us, and yet can enjoy enhanced closeness with those who are far away.
Those with whom we could once talk to in person can now be reached using technology. This might seem second best given that we can no longer communicate with all five senses. We miss out on direct eye contact, and our senses of touch and smell. However forfeiting these senses may mean that the remaining sense that we are limited to is enriched. Mobile phone technology is so sophisticated that you feel like your interlocutor is talking straight into your ear. You can hear more than you would during a face-to-face conversation, even unwanted noises such as the slurping of coffee. You can focus more intensely on the message as you are no longer distracted visually.
The only way to communicate with those in geographically distant locales is online. Formerly you were able to catch planes to live and work with people abroad, but now the flights have stopped and the borders have closed. The only way to continue to work across borders is by using technology. Where I live in Adelaide, South Australia, my social circles are sadly limited to monolingual English speakers. Until recently my only chance of using a foreign language was when I boarded a plane and travelled thousands of kilometres away. Now that the Australian borders are shut, I have to continue the foreign-language conversations that I would have conducted face-to-face, online. Distant worlds of thousands of kilometres away are being brought to my home in Adelaide.
I am writing from a geographically isolated region. Not only is Australia isolated, Adelaide is isolated from the major Australian metropolises of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. We are far enough south that within an hour we can drive to the coast facing the Southern Ocean. This lockdown has deprived us of the comfort of daily human contact with people in the neighbourhood, but has brought those in distant lands into our living rooms as we maintain our relationships using technology.