Europe was hit by the pandemic and by the general lockdown a few weeks ago already. Donatella Gasparro was hoping that the moving-everything-online fever would slowly wane, to leave room for some healthy emptiness and no-screen time. But she was wrong.
It is clear that we, as a species, don’t have the capability to embrace the right here and right now: the real and tangible world of objects and creatures, of silence and noise, of emptiness and free evenings. After many years of gym subscriptions and weekly appointments, free time has the chance to actually be free – but that seems unacceptable. So we go ahead with our weekly schedule, but doing everything from our sad rooms looking at a sad screen at other people looking at other sad screens. We’re funny creatures, aren’t we.
It is not okay
The thing is: we did not register for online yoga classes. We did not register for online events. We did not register for an online course, dance lesson, meeting, whatever. They already existed, the web is clogged with online paid subscriptions to stuff, and they offer great material. But we did not register for that. So why do we all find ourselves with online subscriptions? In the past, I registered to several super cool EdX courses, but I’ve never actually followed any because the truth is I hate online courses and classes. And maybe other people are different. But my message to the world is: stop assuming that moving everything online as a default is suitable for everyone. It is not.
Life stripped of all the noise
There’s some sacredness about all the things we usually do together and cannot do together anymore. Doing those things on MS Teams may work, but surely takes away all the sacredness. There’s something sacred in giving this all up for a few months and withdrawing from the normal buzzing life, too. These days in Droevendaal we’re living something that appears a lot like serene village life. We transplant seedlings, we water the garden with the rainwater pumped with our vintage-looking hand pump, we bake bread and complicated cakes more than we ever did, we spend countless hours in the sun. We have the chance to observe how a blossom evolves from bud to flower, how frog eggs become frogs, how seeds grow leaves, and how everything constantly changes. This all feels incredibly right. As someone special said, we’re living a ‘life stripped of all the noise’.
And I know that for some small organisations moving online is the only way to survive. And I know that for people stuck on the 5th floor of Amsterdam apartments without balconies, a computer is the only way out. But I also know that most of us already work on screen. And more screen time for leisure sounds more like torture to me. So here’s my modest call for a break from the moving-things-online marathon and space for human, tangible, old-school activities
Donatella Gasparro graduated last month as a master’s student in Organic Agriculture; she hails from Italy.