Last weekend, I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and for the first time in a very long time, felt as if I had physical proof that things can eventually slowly return back to “normal,” whatever this new normal is. Due to this, I decided to take some time to reflect on the activities we missed out on this year and the substitutes I’ve come up with (and that although we potentially might not need them anymore in the near future, can still be fun as their own activity).
One of my favorite things to do with a group of friends or family members is to go to the movie theater. The movie theater was not only fun because it always had the newest movies, but also because of the experience itself. Viewing a movie for the first time and being able to be immersed in the atmosphere of the audience was always one of the best parts of any movie. Whether it be the chilling silence of the theater during a horror movie or the contagious laughter of the crowd during a comedy, the audience adds so much to the movie that can not be experienced by watching a movie at home. I still remember going to watch “Avengers: Endgame”—what I consider to have been the best movie experience. I left the movie with an emotional attachment as well as an engraved memory and feeling associated with the movie, which I mostly attribute to the audience atmosphere. These types of experiences have definitely been replaced during the pandemic with watching movies and shows on streaming devices, such as Netflix and Disney+.
Streaming services have made it so that watching the newest movies and shows is easy and accessible anywhere, but mostly in people’s bedrooms due to the restrictions of the pandemic. Although the audience experience is almost completely lost when using streaming services, the accessibility is definitely an upside. Additionally, there is a much larger variety of shows and movies to choose from compared to when going to the movie theater, and getting snacks won’t cost you your whole savings account. Add-ons such as Netflix Party have also tried to bring some of the “audience experience” back, and I’ve definitely taken advantage of these features, but I do not think it comes even close to the audience experience of a movie theater, let alone the experience of just getting to go out and watch something on the “big screen.” Still, when the pandemic ends, I definitely don’t see streaming services going anywhere. I only hope they are complemented with at least the option to go to movie theaters.
Next is activities like mini-golfing and bowling. If you ever needed a few hours to kill with your friends, these were the perfect activities. Depending on the friend groups, these activities can fulfill a large spectrum of purposes, such as being a super competitive activity, with everyone trying their hardest to win, or as a background activity to do, while everyone is just mostly focused on the conversation and the golfing/bowling is more of a side purpose. My friend groups tend to fall in the middle, where we try to win for some of the time, but the main purpose is to just have something to do while we talk about whatever we decide to talk about.
Once again, there is no exact replica to these activities during the pandemic. But something my friends and I have done during this time is starting to play video games together. Even though none of my friends are big on gaming, we still can find fun games to play (such as Skribbl or random online games) that do not take up all of our attention so we can have something fun to do while we keep up a conversation. For those people who want to be more competitive, there are definitely more competitive video games out there, as well as less competitive games.
Although these were just two activities that were cancelled by the pandemic, there are countless others. However, as we return back to a “normal” life, I assume that some of the substitutes that I have found during this time will continue to be used, even when the original activities are available. I believe that others will do the same, and I think that although there aren’t that many things to be thankful for due to the pandemic, this may be one of the very very few.