We don’t usually associate Digital Technology and Culture as supportive of each other. We often see them as different ends of the spectrum.
This is why I was delighted to see that the Pandemic has altered relationships. Today, Digital Tech is what’s sustaining Culture in many ways.
So what is Culture?
For the purposes of this post, well, keep it simple. Here’s what Marriam Webster says:
the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group
also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time.
Essentially, the set of practices that help us define our identity over a long time is Culture.
So music is Culture, as is food. Religion and Spirituality are part of Culture. Art, Dance, and Craft are definitely Culture. Learning languages is a crucial part. As we think more about it, the foundation of our very lives is Culture.
Digital Technology and Culture in the Pandemic
As part of the lockdowns, traditional restaurants that have survived decades have lost most of their regular “walk-in” clientele. Food delivery apps have stepped in, allowing the newer customer to sample their delicacies. Indeed, the lockdown has encouraged many of these restaurants to cater to new customers from totally new areas. And the numerous citizen YouTubers are adding to the popularity. Once the lockdown ends, I am sure we will continue our patronage of these traditional establishments.
Listening to music is a heady experience. This is why large halls and personal performances are so special. Again, music took a beating during the lockdown. However, many artists have created virtual “sabhas.” You can sit in front of your TV and listen to the greats perform live.
Religion and Spirituality
During the lockdown, people need comfort, guidance, and hope. Religious discourses, meditations, yoga sessions are all available on digital channels and dedicated apps. Live prayers and rituals from prominent places of worship are streamed live. All this ensures devotees feel close to their God.
Art, Craft and all that
Want to quilt? How about learning Carnatic singing or the keyboard? Want to learn how to cook? How about learning to write? There’s a Live course or a YouTube channel that will allow you to know everything and more. Indeed the number of Citizen producers of content has exploded during this period. And the content is fantastic. Take a little time to search and you’ll find one that talks to your heart.
Family Time and Zoom
People seem to be connecting more – online. It’s not as effective, but the good thing is that people across generations are talking a lot more than they were before the Pandemic. The Pandemic has given us a perspective of time – and people are starting to use it for honest conversations.
Regional Language Books and Audible
Many people prefer (and can only read) in their native languages. Local Libraries filled this gap admirably. With the lockdowns, people had to find other avenues. The decent catalog of Tamil books on audible and kindle have come to their rescue during these times. This is a fascinating development and has extraordinary potential – and the pandemic is driving rapid adoption.
Digital technology and Culture are great when they complement each other
And so I do believe the lockdown has helped bridge a perceived chasm between Digital and Culture and convert it into a very complimentary thing. After all, it’s Digital that keeps the stories flowing, and its Culture that provides those stories. They are indeed a match made in heaven!