Last Easter I uploaded my project AI and this year I realized that this topic could not be more relevant than now. Technological and social progress creates in a natural way a distance between individuals of our society. You can see this easily in historical comparisons. A few centuries ago, human communities (family, friends, work, village) were much closer. Families in a house/apartment were on average larger and companies and villages smaller, which meant that the cohesion between people was greater. These proportions have changed dramatically over the last century. Families are smaller, companies are larger and urbanisation occur, which causes people to become alienated from each other. If you have lived once in a major city, you can understand the feeling that you don't really mean anything to anyone on the streets. Working and living conditions become more and more fluid, which means that fewer and fewer people can maintain strong relationships. Digitalization has intensified this development as well, as people no longer have to work from a fixed place or enter into relationships over a greater distance due to dating apps.
The quarantine during Covid-19 gives a glimpse of what happens to a society in social distance and how it affects the emotional state of different individuals. Especially during holidays you want to spend time with your family and loved ones. They might be in another country, another city or just on another street. But to protect them, it makes no difference for the individual person, because you are not allowed to meet anyone... Communication between people is not only audio-visual, it is much more about the joy of your partner's smell, the warmth when you sit together with friends on a couch or the elevating feeling of a situation when two harmonious identities meet.
This was the starting point for my project at that time. I wanted to use technology to make communication between loved ones more intimate over distance. For me personally, this also identifies one of the biggest challenges we will face as designers. Covid-19 creates a situation that we as a society have never faced before and I am afraid of how this will affect the way we live together. Creative people have always changed and shaped structures and it is our task to enable future generations to live and work together to create more great things.
These difficult times are straining us all in different ways and there are many people who are now insecure and looking for simple answers. In the last few days I have personally put a lot of energy into fighting against conspiracy theories. I can also understand that people are reluctant to admit that they are just a product of fortune in the end, but sometimes that is exactly what it is. Our society should rather invest energy in solutions that make this isolation time more bearable or shorten it as much as possible and not to think about whether companies and organizations have conspired.
Keeping social distance is the most important task we have at the moment, but we shouldn't lose the fact that the warmth of a community is one of our most important goods that strengthens ourselves in a mental, physical and spiritual way. In my thoughts I am with all the people in Spain, Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom and all the other countries and families who are more seriously affected by this crisis because I know that Germany and my family have been relatively lucky so far. Covid-19 will affect our lifes for a long time also after the isolation, so please let us all work together to make the best out of this situation.