Technology That Has Proven Invaluable During the Coronavirus

A little backyard Zoom happy hour is just what the doctor ordered.
A little backyard Zoom happy hour is just what the doctor ordered. Photo by Jeff Balke
While so many of us have been hidden away, practicing self quarantining and social distancing, we have managed to remain remarkably connected and keep ourselves busy. Much of that is due directly to technology. It's difficult to imagine how we would have gotten through in the early twentieth century when the Spanish Flu pandemic forced people inside for weeks. But for many Americans and those overseas, technology has managed to give us distractions and keep some working, while managing to stay informed (maybe a little too informed) on what is happening in the world.

We've developed attachments to certain technologies while others have simply ramped up in the wake of the pandemic. Here are a handful of items we almost can't live without while we wait out the virus.

Delivery and Take Out Apps

Restaurants cling to life through the benefit of curbside pickup and delivery through Uber Eats, Favor and other delivery services. Grocery stores have Instacart and even their own services for grabbing groceries for you. And drug stores can bring medication right to the home of people who need it most. It is unlikely we will suddenly all turn to apps for our weekly groceries, but it certainly has opened up a world of options to many who may have never considered using these services before.

Instant Messaging

Texting is one thing, but entire companies can stay connected quickly and easily through messaging apps like Slack. Instead of walking to an office or yelling across a room, you can send a quick message or even make a video call. Offices around the world have been using messaging apps with greater frequency over the last few years, but the ability to connect workers who aren't even in the office must be a tremendous benefit.


Something has got to take up some of the downtime and video games are certainly one way to fill it. Sports-themed games can, at least a little, take the sting out of live sports going on hiatus. And gaming with friends affords some shared experiences you might have otherwise had in person. Plenty of people have been gaming online for years, but a host of newbies is discovering a new and addictive hobby.

Streaming Services

Speaking of killing time, there is nothing that can crush boredom while stuck inside like binge watching a series you've always wanted to see. But it's not just movies and TV through Netflix or Hulu, it's music from Spotify and exercise videos from YouTube or Peloton. Then there are the informative things like streaming live press conferences from local, state and federal officials. The ability to get video through an internet connection has never been more powerful.

Online News

Not to break our arms patting ourselves on the back, but some of the best up-to-the-minute news coverage is happening online from publications big and small. Even in the height of a pandemic, stories of good and bad are filling news websites and it's pretty clear people are reading. News has changed quite a lot in the era of digital technology, but if this virus has taught us anything, it is that news is alive and kicking...and needed.

Social Media

Whether you consider it a scourge or a critical source of information, you are probably right. Social media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have dominated our lives for nearly a decade now for better or worse. At the moment, it is one of the best ways we have of connecting with people, sharing information and learning about the world.

Video and Teleconferencing

If you bought stock in Zoom prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, congratulations, and be sure to pass along some stock tips to us while you are at it. The video conferencing services has overtaken Microsoft as the most-used service in the world. But, however we are doing it, video (and to a lesser extent, teleconferencing) meetings and meet ups have become THE thing to do during the pandemic. Facetime is cool one-on-one, but how else can you get a group of 20 people together to have happy hour when not in the same room?
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke