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"Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself.
It is precisely that simple and also that difficult.”

– Warren Bennis

Digital is great, but it doesn't replace analogue

Part 6 of our Corona series by Dr. Christoph Quarch
25 March 2020

I f there is to be a real winner during the corona crisis, then apart from the disinfectant and protective clothing industry, it is likely to be those companies that offer digital learning platforms, conference rooms, virtual reality spaces or other social meeting places on the Internet. And rightly so, because we can be grateful to these companies for providing us with a digital and – above all – germ-free substitute to physical human interactions in virtual space.

By these means our social life can continue and sometimes even experience an intensification. As a result, many people will come to realise in the coming weeks and months that video conferences are in fact, “not the devil’s work” and that it is possible to exchange knowledge and expertise through webinars.

In view of the estimated duration of the corona crisis, it is to be expected that people will become increasingly accustomed to such digital spaces and platforms. For this reason, not everyone will choose to take the path back to their analogue space in the post-corona period – which is not a bad thing, given the ecological advantages of virtual encounters.

At the same time, however, it can be expected that physical encounters between people will gain in value and weight. For as much as we will come to appreciate the practicality, sterility and cost-effectiveness of digital meetings in the coming weeks and months, we can expect to see an inversely proportional increase in peoples’ awareness of the incomparable intensity, magic, and enthusiasm of analogue meetings. For it is an age-old principle of being human: That an inestimable value of the “all-too-obvious” usually only becomes clear to us when its self-evidence has diminished.

This, then, could be an unexpected and peculiar lesson for us through corona: that which endangers us and that which should be avoided at this time – the physical and bodily company of people – is one of the most precious and best things life has to offer us; and that we should therefore learn to appreciate the value of being analog anew.

The touch of a hand, the pat on the shoulder of a friend, the hug of a girlfriend – at the end of the day, these are all the small gestures that are essential to the magic of life.

Even though physicality can now be dangerous, without it there can never be any real fulfilment.

Without it, we aren’t human.

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