The unknown impact of living a virtual life


Brittany Hively

Brittany Hively, executive editor for The Parthenon, current graduate student in The Lewis College of Business.

It has been almost a year since we had to start adapting life to work around a global pandemic. Since then, many jobs have become available remotely, and schools have switched to either a virtual or take-home-packet based model.   

While this has been great in keeping ourselves and others safe, what is the long-term impact of these changes?  

With the recent snow and ice blowing through the tri-state, we have seen several counties declare Non-traditional Instruction or NTI days. This means students have either a snow packet that was sent home earlier in the year with worksheets to complete or where they log on to the school’s online system to complete work. Essentially, we have erased snow days.   

With several employers making remote work an option these days, are we setting up to never have a sick day again? When you can work from home, will employers expect employees to do just that when they call in? This also erases possible “mental health” days that some While the remote option is ideal for keeping citizens safe, I worry about what it means for the future, ideally to mental health.   

We currently live in a culture that is “on-demand” with an instant gratification attitude. We expect things to be done right away. We have articles and studies showing the damage to mental health with the prevalence of smartphones and work never stops.   

We are constantly checking emails, talking to clients via text and call, keeping up with business accounts on social media. We are available almost 24/7. Will the increase in remote availability make this worse?   

According to the CDC, 40% of adults in the United States reported struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse due to the stress factors of COVID-19. 13% of those surveyed started or increased substance use, and 11% seriously considered suicide.   

These are alarming numbers in a world that already struggles with mental health.   

It is the opinion of this writer that snow days are good for the child’s soul. Not only do they get a break from school, but they have the opportunity to make childhood memories that will last a lifetime.  

I also believe mental health days are good for the adult’s soul. Sometimes life just weighs us down, and we need a moment to sit on the couch in our pajamas all day, binging Netflix and eating ice cream.   

In a world that never sleeps, I think it is important that we slow down sometimes and give ourselves grace when we need a break, both mentally and physically.   

While I have no idea what the future holds in terms of a global pandemic, virtual schooling and remote work, I do hope we bring back the snow days and enjoy the occasional mental health day      because those things are just as important to ensuring we are the best and kindest people we can be.  

Brittany Hively can be contacted at [email protected].