During quarantine, Maris Mann-Stadt, an environmental engineer in western Massachusetts, began using the dining room of her house as an office. She and her husband had previously entertained in the dining room a handful of times a year, but a workspace was a much better fit for the pandemic.
In the absence of parties and happy hours and date nights, millions of Americans living under lockdown have regressed into pastimes like playing Animal Crossing, reading War and Peace, baking sourdough bread, or attempting to learn Romanian.
Imagine the scene: It’s 1994 and Tom Petty is presenting his new solo album Wildflowers to the suits at Warner Bros. He’s been working on this music for two years with a new collaborator, producer Rick Rubin, and he is excited. He presses play.
Participants in a virtual paleontology meeting were not permitted to use the words “bone,” “sexual,” or “Hell” in early digital Q&A sessions, sparking amusement and frustration from researchers attending the online conference.
The pandemic’s horrors are well known to most, but there have been some silver linings. The emptiness of the streets, fewer people driving, and general lack of activity gave us the gift of silence. How silent were many parts of our society?