Socialising online in the ‘new normal’ is all about keeping in touch and convenience
These virtual events allow far flung friends and family to continue to engage with an experience online together. In a similar way as going to see a film, country house or other visitor attraction, an arrangement at a particular pre-booked time and date can be the highlight of the week for many in these extraordinary times.
We have all become accustomed to staying at home and having our online shopping delivered. Since all the shops have reopened earlier this month, there has been no great retail bounce back in the UK yet. Samuel Mueller, chief executive at Scandit summed it up: “Buying habits have changed and so have customer expectations.” (1)
Therefore the ‘good night in’ is most likely here to stay. More than 8 million people watched the Eurovision Song Contest last weekend in the UK alone and many used social media to share the experience and their outfits representing their favourite countries. Entertaining and cultural zoom and YouTube events is a format that is a very successful way of socialising despite everyone in the UK being allowed to go out, at least locally, now according to government guidance. (2)
Virtual live events will most likely be a trend with longevity that will become the ‘new normal’ for nearly everyone in the next few years at least. The latest platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok all have live video features built in recently. Internet media is constantly developing and we have seen how dated traditional television viewing has become since 2010, as downloading from commercial providers has become the standard way to receive pre-recorded programs, series and films in the UK for most households.
Zoom, YouTube and other live internet media providers cannot fully replicate the atmosphere and excitement of having great seats at the theatre or the hottest music gig or festival tickets. However these video conferencing events do allow combinations of individuals from across the world, that would otherwise not be able to talk to one another, be able to discuss issues easily.
As well as lively entertaining subjects social zooming can also involve more serious topics for those wanting a more intellectual experience. Diverse experts can debate academic, political or ideological subjects without the expense of even having to buy a bus fare. There are also very few limitations to the amount of subscribers who can tune in on any given occasion, which is a big benefit compared to the restrictions of a small venue.
Hybrid virtual and IRL socialising is most likely the future
It is inevitable that some sort of hybrid version of working from home with a weekly or occasional visit into the physical office will become the norm for most professionals over the foreseeable future, as we all adapt to a post pandemic way of living.
In the same way UK residents will most likely ‘pick their favourites’ when it comes to attending real life events. The majority of the country is slowly getting used to a more positive double vaccination situation, which still comes with the risks of contracting new variants of Covid-19. Understandably individuals are weighing up the pros and cons of taking some risks and also spending precious travel money and time, to see loved ones they wish to physically be in company with, after several long seasons apart.
Much of the population has got used to saving, reallocating or not spending their ‘going out money’ in the way they did before March 2020 and they like it. City centres and creative arts venues will have to work very hard to tempt the general population ‘back out there’ again and meet up IRL (In Real Life). The promise of ‘unmissable’ days out, ‘unforgettable evenings’ and ‘incredible live performances’ that are only available on their premises will be buzzwords to tempt back a cautious public.
It is unlikely that virtual reality or any more sophisticated technology will overtake a video conference call in the short term or even within the next decade. This is because a lot of this advanced technology is very new, expensive and relies on complicated headsets that have to be fitted and cannot be shared easily in a socially distanced antibacterial manner.
When better VR solutions come onto the market it could transform the type of futuristic, imaginative and 3 dimensional experiences that adults can share with their close network. The immersive experiences that gamers now enjoy online together will no doubt be developed in fresh, exciting and amazing ways but this is quite far into the future, for most friends and families at this time.
As long as we have the freedom to meet up in public venues again there will always be men, women and young people who will choose to only use digital technology for work purposes and politely decline any more social zooming in their spare time. For the average citizen a zoom or social media occasion with leisure clubs, colleagues, close buddys or their own relations is bound to be part of the diverse mix of social events they attend in any month or two.
Some folk will continue to love the informality of only dressing from the waist up if they feel like it. We might as well all get used to those awkward silences, unavoidable technical hitches and unexpected gremlins upsetting our online applecart as we meet up en masse. Like it or loathe it, it looks like virtual social meetings and zoom parties are here to stay.
For more information on this topic check out these HotEnough.com related articles What’s Still Cool About Social Event Zooming in the UK? and also High Street Retailers Put the Pleasure into Lifestyle Inspired Leisure Events
(1) ‘Now that all of UK retail has reopened, what’s next?’ Georgia Wright, 10 May 2021 ‘Now that all of UK retail has reopened, what’s next?’ Georgia Wright, Retail Gazette
(2) ‘Eurovision 2021: Viewers react to UK entry’s ‘harsh’ and ‘hilarious’ zero points score’ Louis Chilton, The Independent, 22 May 2021 ‘Eurovision 2021: Viewers react to UK entry’s ‘harsh’ and ‘hilarious’ zero points score’ Louis Chilton, The Independent