John Phipps: Getting Virtually Better is Making Our Lives More Livable

USFR 082920 - Johns World
For John Phipps, Farm Journal Field Days, a pioneering effort, surpassed his expectations. He explains why it's an example of the adjustments we are all making in our lives to make our lives more livable. ( Farm Journal )

I hope you had a chance to be a part of the Farm Journal Field Days. For a pioneering effort, it surpassed my expectations – only I really didn’t know what to expect. This experience sensitized me to the adjustments we are all making in our lives to make our lives more livable.

Humans adapt – it’s how we’ve survived for millions of years. Seeing those traditional first-day-of-school photos of grandchildren plunked down at a desk at home with headphones while fixated on a laptop was one indicator. At our church, videoing the service to post on the internet becomes a little easier for me each week. In fact, while our church is small enough to be open for the whole congregation, the pastor and I have noticed that the number of viewers is steady, if not slowly rising. Our local school just announced sporting events will be streamed, which Jan and I find helpful. We’ve gotten proficient at ordering and bringing home more kinds of restaurant food. We have many friends who never go in the supermarket, pickup pre-ordered groceries at special curbside spots by appointment. Some who live in town now have food delivered often within an hour.

Businesses have discovered working from home can be as productive if not more so. My guess is the number of unneeded meetings that was standard practice will not be restored when places of work lift all restrictions.

Safeguards seem to have become durably controversial, and I think one reason virtual adaptation is going as well as it has is getting together in person isn’t worth the debate that too often erupts when we do. It’s just easier to attend gatherings online than hassle with neighbors who have different risk calculations. We’re also simply getting used to wearing masks. Not a big deal anymore for many.

The longer this pandemic stalemate goes on, the more workarounds we create, and the deeper new ways of doing things become ingrained. Efforts like these will change our future habits, from routinely working at home for many to less in-person social contact for even more. But it is now clear there won’t be a well-defined end to these disruptions. Getting better at virtual living and finding ways to add personality to communications may be the keys to adding more satisfaction and happiness to our lives.