I admit I’m not a hi-tech person. This is 2020’s greatest irony, I know. I may have worked with computers and smartphones but believe me, for the most part I’m scared of trying new technology. This pandemic just made me realize there’s a boomer living inside of my millennial shell.
One of the things I hated trying was online payments. Maybe because I was fed up with stories of being scammed. I don’t know. I guess I just love the feeling of holding paper bills and seeing them gone in sixty seconds at the grocery counter. Actually, it’s a technology that’s not well marketed among Filipinos as most people would line up at banks to pay monthly dues. But the pandemic changed that.
In a blink of an eye, COVID-19 closed almost all banks, all stores, all restaurants and all government offices. If one has much time, one can go for more than a kilometer or two to the nearest open bank. I just did that twice. It nearly killed my legs and my sanity. I had false hopes that the rest of the banks would open a month later, but my bills were rising like the next Hawaiian wave.
When I first used an online payment app, I was scared. Really scared. But it changed my life. In fact, my first transaction blew me away. I later realized that some of my friends, even those older than me, have been using it for a long time. I just have to tie my fingers with duct tape so I don’t have to rave about it on social media, then.
I began to make online orders, too. I used to rely on my former officemates taking orders for milk tea every payday but now, they’re gone. My innermost being was like my nine-year-old self jumping for joy over Christmas gifts when I received my first meal ordered online – chicken with rice and French fries.
It’s not only me who has this kind of stories. I’ve heard of others who have struggled to learn kind of technology after Manila went into lockdown. With no private cars, people have to gain new means to meet needs, refresh necessities, and most of all, survive. It helped lessened risk. It helped open new business opportunities, especially small ones. And I hope, it also helped Filipinos upgrade their technological skills.
If there’s a good thing gained from the quarantine period, that’s the realization that we can improve through technology. We’re just hesitant about it. Most of us have hung on to tradition, which were mostly outdated. Paper bills, coins and checks are about to be taken over by credit and debit cards, as well as by online payment services, but we were blindsided to that fact. Cities like Melbourne and Sydney prefer cashless payments, and businesses not accepting those kinds of services are dodgy for them. Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan have been using cards to pay their travel fares. If we’re willing to go to a new normal, we have to upgrade our processes and our ways. But I hope those who have the capability would also help those who do not have the access to technology, especially the vulnerable ones. Most of us still do not have access to smartphones or computers. If others cannot shift their skillset because they lack these capabilities, let’s not leave them out. Education is key to improvement.
So far, upgrading my rusted techie self with a new software ego must be my greatest achievement during the lockdown. Looks like online services will never go away even after the lockdown. But I need to stop myself from ordering too much but…hey look! I think I buy that bag online…