- 13 Jan 21
Despite its ability to upend the world, tech remains a tool for escapism.
2020 was the year when the world lost its grip on reality. Lunatics thought 5G caused Covid. They burned 5G masts and posted unhinged ramblings (from their 4G phones); QAnon conspiracy theorists babbled about Satanic paedophiles harvesting children’s blood in tunnels beneath America; Donald Trump became the cheerleader for all this misinformation.
Social networks traditionally profited from such untruth and propaganda, whilst shoe-horning users into vacuum tunnels of their own guff, thereby dividing the world further. It took a pandemic and an out-of-control President to finally whip Facebook and Twitter into some kind of line, with both platforms cracking down, sort of, on hate speech and misinformation. Lies spread faster than truth, so social media moderation is a game of Whac-A-Mole.
Under 25s flocked to TikTok, a platform made in China, to post dance videos and watch stupid trends like breakfast cereal water-boarding and home socket electrocution. Yeah, that’s where you can stick your Ice Bucket Challenge, grandad.
Short-form videos provided some respite from elections, pandemics, and institutionalised racism, but so did home entertainment, with streaming services – Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and our own networks such as RTE (wasn’t the Toy Show great?) and TG4 – providing good reasons to stay at home and thereby avoid the plague.
Sky, which created one of the greatest TV shows in history in Chernobyl, has added over 40 movies in High Dynamic Range to its Sky Q service for Christmas. Sky Q also refined its voice search, so you can find personalised recommendations while gorging on Harry Potter. Sky Go added more access to Master’s Golf, EFL and Nations League matches. Pick up Sky Q, Netflix, and Sky TV for €30 a month on a 12-month contract via sky.com/ie/tv
Its potential ability to upend the world notwithstanding, tech remains – more than anything else – a tool for escapism. The launch of 4K next gen consoles – PS5 and Xbox Series X/S – is the stuff of dreams. 2020 closed the door on the last generation with remarkable titles such as The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima and FIFA 2021. With Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, and the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 in store for the new gen, there’s more worlds to disappear into in 2021.
Between streaming and gaming, it’s a good time to invest in an outrageously massive TV. Sony’s 4K HDR A9 BRAVIA OLED, and LG’s CX introduce real world visuals into your living room. Don’t forget your friends, though: 5G’s super-fast speeds have bolstered phones such as Google Pixel 5, iPhone 12 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S11. Sorry, conspiracy theorists.
Artists in 2020 swapped the live stage for streamed concerts; and gadgets provided the connection between them and their fans. Three.ie has a Chrimbo selection of treats on offer, such as the Huawei FreeBuds Pro, Huawei’s wireless earphones, and JLab GO Air True Wireless Earbuds. Three.ie is also retailing the ION Air LP Record Player for a cool €99. Disinformation divides but tech, like music, has the power to connect. Over to you…
Read the full end-of-year The Whole Hog feature in the Hot Press Annual 2021 – out now: