By: Courtney Suber
The first day that I can remember COVID-19 having a significant impact on my life was March 13th, 2020. This Friday was the day Fulton County students were put out of school and told they would return in two weeks. Hearing this news, I was nearly ecstatic. I was on a high of a job, rowing, school, and an elite program that were causing amounts of stress I had never felt in my life. A two week break seriously felt like the exact thing I needed. Little did I know though, this two-week break would extend to an overwhelming nearly five-month situation.
I’ve never been one to binge TV shows due to my short attention span, and the most time I could commit to a show was maybe twenty minutes, unless it was a show that told multiple stories at once like 90-day fiancé. Like many others though, quarantine almost was a promise to an increase in binge watching. Even I found myself watching some shows with my hyperactivity. An article by Forbes reports, “…Netflix subscriber numbers rose by 10 million…” An increase in free time has led to an increase in subscriptions to streaming platforms, but that isn’t the only result of quarantine boredom.
Quarantine free time also promoted one other facet of modern digital life: the idea and production of cancel culture. The idea of cancel culture is to cancel a person or company for doing something that’s deemed “problematic” in the online general public. In theory this idea makes sense. To hold people and company’s accountable for acting immorally makes sense. Boredom and free time quarantine though has caused an excess and unnecessary amount of ‘cancel culture.’ An article from USA Today states “But the strength of cancel culture can also ravage careers and lives. And there are cases where the people on Twitter don’t have all the facts and perhaps took on the role of judge and jury without having an accurate picture of the story behind their ire.” This excess of free time has caused just this: people who lack facts producing hits against individuals. This is unhealthy, for cancel culture can ravage lives and careers.
Now how are these two digital experiences related? They share the similarities of captivating people’s attention and time. The Washington Post reports that according to Comcast network traffic has risen to as high as 60%. What could people be doing with that? Netflix binging and cancel culture are only two symptoms of increased screen-time and internet usage.
These two focuses on an increase of subscription services and an increase in online witch hunting are only two sides of the coin, but one thing can be determined from these points. Quarantine has led to and encouraged more people to look towards online entertainment to waste time. Our lives have turned digital, and the use of entertainment to convey messages and burn daylight are direct symptoms of this.