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Leisure amidst Future Shock 2020

Leisure amidst Future Shock 2020

In 1970 Alvin Toffler, a futurist, wrote his international bestseller Future Shock. In this book, the author portrays how the people are overwhelmed by the “accelerated rate of technological and social change” that leave them “disconnected and suffering from ‘shattering stress and disorientation’—future shocked”. [1] "Future Shock" is a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies driven by personal perceptions on "too much change in too short a period of time". [1]

The term ‘Future Shock’ is very relevant today as the world combats one of its biggest challenges, the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has confined billions of people to their homes by clipping their wings of freedom. Yet, amidst the dooming darkness of this Future Shock, we see multiple streaks of light that promise a new dawn for the progress in prospect.

Being the bane that it is, Covid-19 has ushered its share of boons too. One such boon is something that people had lost for many generations, “the availability of ‘free time’. Time had suddenly been rendered spare from zero-commuting, more time was suddenly available from WFH, time was made free from not going out for frequent shopping, eating out, dropping the kids to school, and more” [2]. American economist and sociologist, Thorsten Veblen, terms the availability of this "non-productive consumption of time" [2] as Leisure.

Choice of unbridled entertainments defined Leisure up until the onset of Covid-19. However, Covid-19 has leashed and reversed the scope of Leisure, wherein many of the simple pleasures of yore have re-entered to claim their lost glory among the set of preferred Leisure activities. The following are details of a couple of such activities and a couple of new arrivals that have thus infringed the limelight:

The re-surfacing old-fashioned hobbies and games

A fast growing trend that we are witnessing is how the people in their 20s and 30s have quickly opted for old-fashioned board games, card games, jigsaw puzzles, word-puzzles, number crunching, etc. Popular statistics reveal, “The Philatelic Bureau in Ernakulum…has 9800 members. When the situation normalizes, the numbers may have grown by 20-25% as the next gen of many families got introduced to this very addictive, yet charming hobby during the home stint and are now hooked” [2]. Also, worthy of note is the fact that the humble Ludo has gained a digital avatar, Ludo King, and is “ranked No. 1 in the Top Free Games Section on the Apple App Store” [2].

Comeback performance by Old TV Blockbusters

The return of Ramayan and Mahabharat after 30 years to Doordarshan has caused its viewership to surge by leaps and bounds. Though these shows had been re-run in the past, they were never this popular. Experts observe that “the palpable fear gripping the populace” [2] is propelling them to ensure that they continue to seek old times, good times, and that is the reason for the success run of the re-telecasts. Following this trail, many potential big titles of the yesteryears are gearing up to return to the small screen and are expected repeat their success.

OTT – The new Theatre?

As the lockdown has shut the cinema halls and multiplexes, film releases are suspended. The digital platforms are eyeing this as an opportunity to replacing the conventional by collectively redefining the movie watching experience. The alternative comes in the form of OTT (Over the top), which “refers to film and television content provided via a high-speed Internet connection rather than a cable or satellite provider.” [3]. One such platform, Netflix, was looking at a potential subscriber base of 7 million in India this year. But, the pandemic has already caused it acquire a client base of 15.8 million. Research reveals, “Three in four people are using more streaming services since the arrival of the coronavirus”. [2]

5G – the Crowning Glory

Goaded by the irresistible birth pangs triggered by the pandemic, the long awaited 5G, the fifth generation technology standard for cellular networks, is finally making its mark on the global scenario. 5G has the potential to support around one million devices per square kilometre, and the new networks propelled by 5G will have greater bandwidth, giving download speeds up to 10 gigabits per second. [4] With such capabilities, 5G is all set to light up and revolutionize the possibilities in entertainment, thereby enriching and enhancing the experience of "non-productive consumption of time", Leisure.

The word Leisure is designed to flex, scale, and mean any pleasure desired and never fail to amuse a seeker. Now, the pandemic has redefined it to mean a lot of personal/family time with limited scope for spending it. Yet, the incessant growth and abundance of technology has been routed to fill in the void to replicate the real with the virtual. As we walk through this dark tunnel hoping for an antidote to end the pandemic, such replicas shall serve as sources of amusement until light is seen at the other end.

Reference:

  1. 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_Shock
  2. 2. https://brandequity.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/media/future-shock-25-leisure-entertainment-trends-post-covid-19/76183342
  3. 3. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/o/over-top.asp
  4. 4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5G