In front of emigrants who do not come to Portugal, elderly people who cannot leave their nursing homes, or families who do not get together, technological consultants give ideas.
The celebration of Christmas will be different for many Portuguese families. It is a fact that we began to realize in October, when the President of the Republic warned of the “seriousness” of the increase in contagions due to coronavirus and the hypothesis of having to “rethink Christmas”. Despite the easing of movement restrictions between municipalities on December 23, 24, 25 and 26 and the mandatory curfew in risky municipalities, it is until 2 am, there are households that will only be connected via the internet, as in Easter.
Inês Cipriano de Quina lives in Canada and, every year, comes to her hometown in December to spend Consoada and New Year's Eve with her family – but not this year. The fear of bringing the virus with her and infecting her parents was stronger than nostalgia, so technology will soften it. “I am not going because I don't want to risk being exposed to Covid-19 nor do I want to put my family at risk as the situation in Portugal is not very good. It is a different Christmas, but it is not because I am far away that I stop being present”, says Inês to Jornal Económico (JE).
Among WhatsApp, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams or Facetime, there are ideas that can be explored, according to David Faustino, managing director of Nexllence (Glintt). “One idea will be to place a smart TV on top of a dining table, thus achieving a more immersive experience of being“ at the table ”with family and friends. There is also a set of entertainment solutions that will allow family and friends to interact “almost” as if they were together: in addition to console games, it will be worth looking for sites with board games that have been ported to the digital world (such as pt.boardgamearena.com), which will allow hours of fun between people in different places in the country and the world”, advises the manager.
David Faustino points out that there is a significant percentage of the population that has access to devices with audio and video capabilities (PC, tablet, smartphones, smart television. In fact, even this week, Anacom informed that there are more than four million subscribers to subscription television in Portugal, which represents more than 90% of Portuguese families and presupposes, therefore, that they also have modern televisions and other advanced telecommunications services. “I believe that part of the families will come together through these means, improving the experience of human proximity, allowing the perception of non-verbal language, and reducing the “emotional distance” between people.These means are increasingly available to us, but our ingrained personal habits of making telephone calls still remain, so I believe that Christmas could be an excellent opportunity to make video calling a habit also in a personal environment ”, he says. However, without infrastructure or resources to protect the elderly from the virus as needed, homes will be the biggest penalties of this festive season - which this year will have little to celebrate.
To the newspaper “Público”, both the president of the União das Misericórdias Portuguesas and the president of the National Confederation of Solidarity Institutions warned that there is no way for the elderly to spend Christmas with their families because they are then unable to put them in prophylactic isolation, in security and with the proper distance, for 14 days.
The associate director of Marketing and Communication at the technological consultancy Noesis proposes to "warm the heart" of someone who is far away at this time with the recording of a video at the time of opening gifts or a Christmas message with the household you have at home and send it to everyone who won't share the “bolo rei”. “Much has been discussed in recent years about the effect of technology, especially on new generations, on socialization and interpersonal relationships, among so many other issues to be aware of. However, the world has changed and, paradoxically, at a time when social contacts are restricted and must be moderated, technology and virtual contact can be the solution to maintain family ties and connections and try to establish some "normality" this Christmas”, says Ricardo Rocha to JE.
In his opinion, technology will not only minimize the negative impact of this Christmas, but also “combat the loneliness of those who, for one reason or another, will spend it alone”. “Technology, today, has the great advantage of being able to keep us connected and to place us virtually anywhere. The advent of mobility solutions, teleconferencing software, smartphones or social networks was one of the major revolutions we have seen in recent years,” says the Noesis Director.
The Prime Minister, António Costa, calls for fraternization to be avoided. “Each family member will know how to organize themselves, but it is necessary for everyone to understand that Christmas does not guarantee immunity to anyone, does not protect us, and that is why it is essential that celebrations exist, but with great care to prevent us from sharing virus, which cannot be our gift,” said António Costa last weekend. The measures announced by the Government will be reassessed on December 18.
Originally publish (in Portuguese) in Jornal Económico