Digital highlights. How digital has made 2020.

Digital highlights that have changed our lives this year

2020 has been pretty rubbish in general for most people. It’s certainly been like no other year I’ve ever lived through.

So when I start talking about digital highlights, you may think I’ve inhaled too much hand santiser.

We’ve all had to change how we live, work, socialise and keep up with family. That’ll be a global pandemic for you.

Our everyday life has been turned upside down. Never the less, on the whole, the world has found ways to adapt.

For us in the digital world however, it’s nothing that we didn’t already know was coming.

People have been connecting online, working remotely effectively, and learning online. Streaming services have changed the way we watch premiers. We’ve seen celebrities wearing pjs 24/7. Our parents have even engaged with funny social media trends on TikTok and the like. Moreover, in absence of get togethers, virtual parties, weddings and raves have moved online.

Yes, I too have had one of those Zoom hangovers, and regretted the night before.

Whilst freelancers like me have worked from home for a long time, it has become normal for an unprecedented number of companies. Technology has had to step up its game.

Businesses that have operated traditionally, have had to adapt and move online or face the consequences. And with little social interaction in person, platforms that support virtual contact have created a sense of community and togetherness

Yes, 2020 has taken a lot away from us, but it’s actually given us so much too.

Instead of looking at the lows, I’ve put together a few digital highlights to be proud of.

Online learning

For years, people have been learning remotely. There have always been options for distance learning, remote tuition, and gaining home-based qualifications. What hasn’t always been available however is online learning for the general education sector.

Schools, colleges and universities have had to adapt to this remote way of teaching. Some schools have been able to offer a full digital timetable to students, whereas others have used websites, email or other communication apps to provide home learning.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

For me, the fact that they have done this under ever-changing regulations, with the same limited resources is incredible.

Of course there will always be disparities between schools with bigger budgets and those in more deprived areas. Offering and supporting learning in any format though, is something that the education sector should be proud of.

Nonetheless, there is still lots to do to support students who need greater help, and to build a more inclusive learning infrastructure. I hope that lessons have been learned, and home learning becomes a real priority to really invest in.

The power of crowd funding

Captain Sir Tom Moore, Joe Wicks and other extraordinary individuals have reminded us that we still need to pull together.

In a year where charity fundraising has been hit hard, online donations have peaked. Despite our own situations, we have donated hundreds of millions of pounds through online funding platforms.

My local area has seen people shaving their heads, building snowmen, donating furniture to families in need, and more efforts. These causes have benefited both individuals and charities who are really in need.

That is most definitely one of the most memorable digital highlights for 2020.

Going viral to gain support

This year, Marcus Rushford has achieved something more important than any number of goals in the premiership. His campaign to support children who would otherwise go without food during the school holidays, is something that he will be known for for the rest of his life.

After he sent a letter to the UK government calling for the end of child poverty, it was published online. The next day, Parliament did a u-turn and extended free school meals for children during the summer holidays. Rashford and his campaign raised over £20m to feed school children in need. That’s the power of the share button!

Marcus Rashford is not the only person who changed perception digitally however. Following a number of racist atrocities in the public eye, a simple slogan became a global phenomenon. The Black Lives Matter hashtag captured the mood of the world and sparked action. People have sharing thoughts and experiences publicly to stand against accepting racism. The #BLM movement has forced the world to reassess longstanding beliefs, and it’s about time too.

These two viral campaigns alone have created and unprecedented level of empathy amongst the global population. Whilst the supporters may not have experienced these issues personally, the power of viral content brought them to the surface. Digital platforms have brought uncomfortable issues to the forefront to be addressed.

New digital communities

Where we all have to stay home and miss our usual hobbies, 2020 has made it acceptable to become part of an online community.

Whether that’s attending an art class online, joining in with a virtual quiz, or taking part in a Zoom disco, the in-person events have had to stop, but the online ones have gone from strength-to-strength.

Community isn’t just about attending events though. It’s been about finding shared passions and feeling part of something. Facebook groups alone have been an esential tool for people during 2020. Groups set up to support people during lockdown have led to huge memberships. In fact, some community managers have achieved book deals and a whole load of press coverage. Not only this though, they’ve provided and unforeseen engagement and camaraderie through the bad times.

The biggest example of this has to be the Clap for our Carers weekly event. What started as an idea on a Facebook post became something that we all did for months of our lives. In appreciation of all NHS staff, key workers and all-round heroes, we showed up every week. Standing on our doorsteps, clapping and banging saucepans became the highlight of our week. All to show our appreciation for those who worked through the pandemic.

That simple post sparked conversation between neighbours who had never really spoken before. Incredible.

Business transformation

2020 might possibly be the end for some businesses. This is the devastating economic reality of the pandemic. People who have worked tirelessly for their own or other people’s companies have lost their careers, financial security, and livelihoods. For some sectors, it’s going to take a long time to recover.

For other industries, this new way of working has transformed their operations, product lines, and productivity in general. With millions of people working from home, traditional working life may have paused temporarily. Conversely, this has actually bought an opportunity for many local businesses.

Covid-secure takeaways have become a thing for companies who may never have considered it as an income stream. We now relish the idea of being able to get local food options, straight to our door or via click and collect. We may never have even noticed the café or farm shop before.

Entrepreneurial spirits really have prospered. From ballet lessons or personal training sessions in your front room, to next day delivery loungewear or cupcakes. Artisans have even hosted online craft markets to sell their wares.

Businesses that have been able to adapt, move their operations online, and offer a more personalised service are the real success stories of 2020.

I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of other highlights where digital channels have come into their own this year too.

I’m really hopeful that 2021 will be a more positive year for everybody. We can only work towards more examples of how advancing technology can improve and benefit our everyday lives.

Happy Christmas to you all, and I hope that you have a restful and enjoyable start to the New Year.

I wonder what will be on my digital highlights of 2021?