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It's been a year and a half of online parties, gatherings, weddings, and happy hours. What are the best and worst parts of it all?

Online events have become the norm. While this might have sounded impossible in 2019, it's come as no big surprise in 2020 and 2021. After one and a half years of digital happy hours, weddings, and reunions, we've started to wonder: what are the best and worst parts of having our social lives amid the digital age? 

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1. Pro

No doubt about it, virtual events have become the norm due to one main reason: safety. This is perhaps the biggest pro there is to Zoom parties, Google Hangout hangouts, and Microsoft Teams team buildings. Hosting large gatherings amid a pandemic is dangerous, and some people may not even be able to fully relax in order to enjoy themselves. Online gatherings, however, provide a safe alternative for groups to discuss ideas, bond, or talk things over. 

Another benefit to such is the convenience of it. There's no more battle with Manila rush hour, no more struggling to find parking at a venue. Simply roll out of bed, prepare for the day, and log on! You can even multi-task. Got an event, but need to head to the bank? It's not a problem if you have reliable data or Wi-Fi and a handy cellphone to carry with you. 

Depending on the situation, virtual events can also be more affordable than attending real events. The costs now mostly lie in electricity and Wi-Fi, whereas in-person events require gas or transportation fees, a budget for clothes, make-up, and everything in between. 

There's also less awkwardness in virtual events most of the time. There's no expectation to chat up a stranger, you're simply at your home, with (or without) your camera turned on, maybe even cuddling with your pet. There's an essence of comfort and convenience that's difficult to find when you're out by yourself, at a networking event or a family reunion where you don't feel comfortable. 

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2. Con

Of course, there are plenty of cons too when it comes to online events. People have been clamouring for parties, bars, and in-person social events, and we can't blame them. We miss those too. 

Perhaps the biggest con of online events is the "inauthenticity" of the experience. Despite our best efforts, online events simply happen through a screen. Not all of our senses are fully engaged with the space, which makes it difficult for us to immerse ourselves in the experience. This is why some may find it so easy to lose focus when attending online classes or talks. Though our minds may be there, our body tells us otherwise. 

Virtual events may be convenient for some, but they can also be inaccessible to others. Not only is the Internet expensive in the Philippines, the quality sometimes wavers. So while some people may not be able to afford Internet expenses, others who may also experience connectivity issues. 

Lastly, online events often allow us to miss out on the real fun of in-person events. There are fewer chances to meet like-minded people, fewer opportunities to explore a certain place or food or product. 

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While there's no doubt that online events are a necessary trademark of the pandemic times, we're also adamant believers that this will not be the norm forever. Nothing can replace the simplicity of being: being with friends, being at a party, being in a place. While we count down the days to our next, safe, gathering, however, we'll sit back into our computer chairs and enjoy another day safely through our screens. 

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