His tweets, attracting as many as 88 million followers, regularly became fuel for a media blaze that raged across the world. With devastating consequences, as evidenced by the mass delusion in America that the election was somehow stolen. The constant repetition of that lie has demonstrated the immense power of unregulated technology and has resulted in a reckoning, a re-examination by Big Tech of the responsibility such companies bear for what they allow to be published on their platforms.
However, in a positive sense, technology has proved a boon as we have tried to cope with the limitations imposed by a global pandemic. During lockdowns our screens have facilitated work meetings, the development of new skills, an incredible diversity of entertainment options and, of course, contact with distant loved ones.
We have been isolated, but still closely connected, an advantage unavailable to earlier generations faced with major global upheavals.
We had two additions to our family in the middle of last year, both grandsons, one born in Dublin, the other in Amsterdam. The trip we booked to be there at the time of the births had to be cancelled for obvious reasons, and right now the uncertainty about international travel means that we have no idea when we might actually meet them face-to-face.
That is hard to bear, but it is, of necessity, the sort of situation replicated in a variety of scenarios across many, many families. We all have our stories of separation, some of them, unfortunately, with tragic consequences. In those cases the pandemic will leave a permanent scar.
It has been a testing time in a multitude of ways. But one thing that really resonates, as joyful reunions in homes and airports have shown, is that despite all its complexity, technology cannot replace the ultimate connection … direct personal contact.
David Campbell is a freelance writer.