The virtual world usually gets a bad rap — between the endless scrolling and TMI (too-much-information) posts it’s no wonder. We often end the experience feeling both tired and mildly anxious. Not managed the right way, social media can be destructive, enticing us away from reality and productivity.
But when all travel was made impossible and we were forced to #stayhome, it was virtual life to the rescue. Though we approached it with a clear goal in mind. We craved authenticity and kindred in a time surrounded by uncertainty. No longer did we accept mindless scrolling, this time we prioritised human connection.
Here’s some ways us millennials have made the most of the virtual world to build connection amongst community:
#1 —We actively engage with travel interest groups— joining a walking tour or experiencing an aspect of travelling now means asking about it in your travel Facebook group
#2 —We better relate to travel influencers — captions tell the real stories behind past travel photos, and we get the full behind the scenes of content creation now everyone is stuck at home
#3 — We move from mindless scrolling to curating — captions have become more informative and useful, rather than the limited value of in the moment #livingmybest life snaps
#4 — We log on to learn something new — getting out of our comfort zone now involves meeting a stranger for a virtual flamenco lesson, then bonding over lockdown woes
#5 —We use a whole toolkit to communicate with friends — we’ve downloaded Zoom, Google Hangouts, Houseparty — you name it, just to connect with our entire friendship group (and sometimes more)
#6 — We seek opinions to keep up to date— instead of planning trips and reading hotel reviews, we’re asking each other when we’d travel again, and where we’d go to
#7 — We like to keep travelling, from our armchairs — either by posting photos of past trips or just travels around the house, we still want to take others on our adventures
#8— We even get virtual FOMO — yes we’re all stuck at home, but FOMO hasn’t gone anywhere — we still don’t want to miss out on where everyone else is virtually hanging out
The lockdown might have turned us into virtual monsters, but it’s only highlighted a fundamental need. We join groups to be included, new apps so we can still be friends, and engage so we can be understood. Past the basics of food and physical safety, the next immediate need is connection and belonging. We’re staying inside so we can travel again. Not just on the big trips, but also the small ones like the local coffee shop or to relatives. Just so we can feel connected—for real this time.