What Remains

La Plus Ça Change

I just got back from a trip a couple of hours ago. My travels involved three airports, three planes, and several Lyfts. They also involved masks but not so much social distancing. Restaurants were open again and airports seemed just as crowded as they did in the before times. While I was on my trip, I used a cloud-based communications app to interview an author for my podcast. I later used the same app to give a podcasting tutorial to a writers’ group. The day prior, I’d used it to attend a writing workshop. The author and the writers’ group were more than 700 miles away from me. The workshop moderator was 2,000 miles away. If the lockdown hadn’t forced us to find new ways to communicate, I likely wouldn’t have done any of those things.

Some changes brought about by the lockdown are likely here to stay.

Live streaming and virtual conferencing aren’t going anywhere. And that’s a good thing. Because of Zoom, Slack, Adobe Connect, Microsoft Teams, Streamyard, Crowdcast, Looped, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and all the other streaming platforms and communications apps we can interact with people, attend conferences and lectures, and participate in workshops hundreds or thousands of miles away. We can do so without taking time away from work or home or figuring out how to be in multiple places at the same time. We also don’t have to spend the money we’d spend on transportation and lodging. Thanks to Zoom, I didn’t have to choose between an interview, a tutorial, a workshop, or a trip. I could do them all.

Things come and go.

I don’t know what other lockdown-induced changes will persist. I do think travel and dining out and in-person events will return. Handshakes might make a comeback. Will hugging? Not being much of a hugger myself, I’m okay if it doesn’t. Masks? People in other countries have been wearing masks in public during cold and flu season for years. So maybe that practice will spread. Or maybe not. Some cultures are more amenable to face covering than others. The only thing I’m sure of is that things after won’t be the same as things were before. Which is okay. Change is normal, even if it’s uncomfortable. After all, if nothing ever changed, there’d be no airports or internet or podcasts.

The written word isn’t static.

Writing has changed, too, in technique and style. I use my laptop and the notes app on my smartphone while writing. And modern books don’t have to include the amount of description that books written in eras when many people never traveled far from the place they were born included. A modern reader who lives in Iowa, for example, can Google maps and photos of London, even if they can’t visit London in person. An author doesn’t have to describe London down to the last cobblestone.

Your Turn

And, yet some aspects of writing remain the same. I used pen and paper in addition to my laptop and phone. Audiobooks aren’t as new-fangled as people imagine. Oral storytelling predates writing. What are some other aspects of writing that you’ve noticed are different now than they were then? And what’s persisted? Comment here, on Facebook, or Twitter.

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