Life online. That is the only kind of life we have had for the past six months. We left our dorm rooms and colleges with the hope that the novel coronavirus would disappear in a few weeks. Weeks turned into months, which then turned into the rest of the semester. Today, half the spring semester, a summer break, and another half semester into a new academic year later, we continue to be online, while grappling with the reality that we may never return to our beloved campuses. Now we watch as parts of the world are on fire, as millions more lose their jobs and their lives every day, as democracy is under threat world over, as we are on the brink of one of the most important elections, as minorities are increasingly threatened and as people continue to ignore and deny every single one of these threats. And we watch all of this helplessly, having to make choices between public health and our livelihoods, our democracy, our freedom of speech. The internet has never been this important — it is the only way through which we have been able to voice our dissent, stay connected with the world and try to maintain the normalcy of school and work. The dot-com revolution was already in full swing even before the pandemic. The pandemic forced us to switch to a world we had been theorizing since the internet began to spread. In this issue, we try to understand what this world looks like. How will elections work when we are advised to stay home? What are the privacy concerns in this world? How do we dissent when every single word can be tracked and used against us? What does the future of live events look like? What are the ethical and moral concerns of a world which depends on and earns its money from tracking our every habit? What do we do with the constant bombardment of news we are faced with online?
As we launch this magazine, we are 43 days from the American election. There are more than 30 million COVID cases in the world and 5.4 million in India itself. We have just received news that our entire (penultimate for some of us) semester has been shifted online. And while the world is ridden with crises, we sit in our homes trying to make sense of it all. This issue is a small effort to chronicle our navigation through this world into what we hope is a better tomorrow.
– Drishti Chawla, Isha Deshmukh, Karantaj Singh and Shrishti Agrawal