Thoughts on virtual living, Kraftwerk, and crying over spilt coffee… – OurWarwick

Thoughts on virtual living, Kraftwerk, and crying over spilt coffee…

Was this blog just an excuse to waste precious time on Canva making the cover photo? Perhaps. Should I have instead used said precious time trying to make a dent in the relentless pile of reading I need to have finished by tomorrow? Probably. But enough rhetorical questions. Week 3 starts tomorrow, which means we are well into the start of the year, and, if my memory of second year is correct, is the time when everything starts to get a bit more exciting (note: busy). And yet, thanks to the pandemic, it’s hard to draw comparisons to last year, given life now looks so different. Dare one say… the new normal.

With many of my classes taking place online, either through MS Teams or virtual learning activities, and the prospect of even more should someone in my class test positive, it seems that I’m spending more time at my computer than doing anything else. Some may even say, we are now living in a computer world…. See the link now? Kraftwerk’s 1981 record Computer World has been one of my favourite albums since I was 15 and watched the following documentary on BBC 3, instead of doing my GCSE history coursework…

In these unprecedented times, it has been a source of comfort for me. I know it’s not considered the most snooty of Kraftwerk albums, as quite a lot of the tracks are under the 15 minute duration needed to satisfy those of us who are openly pretentious. However, it is a collection of songs that have truly soundtracked the last 7 years of my life. I even wore a Computer Love shirt on the day I first moved up to Warwick, prompting the Dad of one of my greatest university friends to tell her that I had good taste.

Despite being produced a good 40 years ago, when computers were still chunky monkeys and pretty uncommon for the average person, it discusses the feelings of isolation and alienation that stem from being in a virtual world… sound familiar? More so, it references how more and more, humans are looking to computers to carry out every aspect of their daily life. How long until we no longer need to go to the library, because every book will be available online? Will university ever go back to what it used to be, or will virtual learning for a cheaper price replace it for many degrees? Kraftwerk deals with this, accompanied by some rather wonderful, inventive techno.

With more of our interactions being virtual, thanks to lockdown round two, I think most of us have found ourselves wanting to just not log on for a day, and not have to face up to the virtual world. I mean, I’m sure we all wanted to throw our computers out the window way back in June, when faced with the 1000th zoom quiz of lockdown. In this way, Kraftwerk was summing up our feelings a whole 4 decades ago. Go take a listen to Computer Love, the main single from the album, which is an absolutely beautiful piece about the falling in love electronically. Tinder, anyone?

It is hard to balance working hard virtually, with maintaining some form of sanity; many other bloggers have highlighted the various ways we can all stay calm by exercising, socialising (safely) and attempting to break the monotonous routine online learning usually inspires, so go check them out. I personally attribute early morning runs, time spent working at the Student Cinema (which is still showing films every night of the week- have a look!) and listening to Kraftwerk in between my classes, as ways I have stayed moderately happy in these cold times.

Even when I’ve spilt my coffee on a Monday morning before my 9AM… Actually, no. Kraftwerk is great, but it didn’t stop the tears then…

So I guess the takeaways from today’s rambling is to try and stay on top of those feelings of isolation that pair naturally with living your life virtually. University can be pretty sad sometimes, but as long as you do all the things you’re supposed to do, like exercising, breathing fresh air, staying in touch with nature, you can convince yourself that it is all okay. And if not, why not give Kraftwerk a listen? Or maybe check out the Warwick Wellbeing Service, for an array of tips about how to survive the many issues of being in lockdown:

Oh, and dogs, always try and be near dogs. They make everything better.

With love,Catherine <3

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