Lots of things have gone off the rails this year — and in response, our ability to connect with each other has gotten a much-needed boost. In an already wired world, everything from telecommuting to anime streaming became that much easier. Because, well, we didn’t have many other options. In order to keep our lives and sanity afloat, companies made major jumps.
But, frankly, those jumps were overdue. The society created by the Internet already demanded these quality-of-life updates. And once we’re all seeing each other in person again, it’s essential that these updates and advances remain a priority. Not just so we can watch our favorite shows, but to enable the connections that our online life nurtures and necessitates.
Some friends have always been separated.
One of the hardest things about this year has been separation. Be it from friends, family, or other loved ones, most of us are only seeing the majority of people at a distance. To artificially shorten that distance, companies have rolled out new initiatives. Video calls are sharper. Anime streaming (and streaming in general) is easier with “watch parties.” But we already needed these things — we’ve needed them for a long time.
Having friends in other cities, states, and countries are customary. Many of us have more friends at a distance than within a comfortable drive, even in a normal year. We have Discord servers for game and movie nights with people who’ve never been in the same room at the same time. Party rooms for Netflix, Hulu, and other services fill a need that’s existed for as long as the streaming platforms themselves have. Once we can see each other again, these services will still be valuable, and still deserve upkeep. More than that, it’s a service that all streaming platforms should consider de rigueur as we go into the 2020s.
Health issues aren’t always scheduled — or global.
As a former Sick Kid (and Sick Young Adult), I recall just how often I had to miss things because of illness or exhaustion. Things like school and work, but also social events, went by the wayside. Anime streaming and online gaming helped me stay connected when I couldn’t do what everyone else was doing. Sadly, the rest of the world is learning what that’s like en masse if they didn’t know before… which will hopefully help the well and active among us understand what the less well among us need.
We now have the capacity for distance work and learning — and the knowledge that it is just as valid and doable. We also have the capacity for distance socializing, and it’s just as important to keep those tools ticking over. Nothing beats actually being somewhere, but now our choices aren’t between “make ourselves sicker” and “miss out entirely.” That’s a big deal.
Putting the social back in streaming.
Anime streaming has, for many taken away the need for clubs and video rooms. Where once those were the only place you could seen new shows, now the world is your oyster. But now, we can hybridize that experience. Viewing can become social again. Even if you can’t dash to your friend’s place as soon as a new episode comes out, you can all hop in a chat room and react together. We’ve jury-rigged the experience before with chat rooms and countdowns, but making actual places and considerations for this experience is all the better.
We’re way behind the curve.
For better or for worse, lockdown has changed the state of anime streaming, working from home, education, socializing, and everything. What’s a necessity now will still be a necessity later. There will still be sick days. There will still be long-distance friends. And there will always be things that are just easier to do online. That’s the society the Internet and its many facets have created for us. And we’re literal years behind in providing up-to-date ways for this society to flourish.
Reopenings and IRL parties won’t be our sign that it’s now okay to give up on these advances. Rather, it should be our sign to look around, when it’s not about us, and see where this need has always existed. And, to that end, continue to build these resources for people who have needed and wanted them for years. Hopefully, the many streaming and chat sites out there making moves now will keep it up when it’s no longer a global imperative.