Beneath a watchful eye, troops and guests mass in Moscow’s Red Square for the Victory Day parade on May 9, 2021. I was there (sort of) thanks to the wonders of technology. (Photo credit: YouTube)

Beneath a watchful eye, troops and guests mass in Moscow’s Red Square for the Victory Day parade on May 9, 2021. I was there (sort of) thanks to the wonders of technology. (Photo credit: YouTube)

The Editor’s Desk: Oh, the places you’ll go!

What was science fiction until recently now allows us all to be armchair travellers

So, how was your weekend? Mine was great; I spent part of it in Moscow, watching the Victory Day parade on Sunday, May 9. The weather wasn’t ideal — overcast, rainy, quite the stiff wind — but it was still enjoyable.

The weather was better at Molineux football ground in Wolverhampton, in England’s West Midlands, where my husband spent a couple of hours on Sunday watching his beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers in Premier League action. Wolves managed a valuable three points with a win over Brighton that came from a dramatic, 90th minute goal.

Neither of us was there in person, I hasten to add. With trips to Maple Ridge or Mission not allowed, it’s unlikely that we would be heading off to Moscow or Molineux for the weekend, even if we had a lifestyle that allowed such things. But we were both able to be there (albeit virtually) thanks to the wonders of modern technology.

The Victory Day parade was streamed live on YouTube via the Russia-1 TV channel, where I was able to watch it when it started at 10 a.m. Moscow time (midnight here). As I’m a night owl anyway, that wasn’t a hardship. My husband had it tougher — the Wolves match started at noon UK time, which is 4 a.m. here — but he was able to stream it live on an online sports app in the wee small hours here, and the win made it worth it.

Watching something live taking place somewhere else is hardly new: big sporting events have happened that way for years, enabling people to watch things like the Olympics. The catch, however, was that you had to hope that a TV station in your country was broadcasting it; if not, you were out of luck.

I found this in 1994, when I was living in Britain and the Canucks made it to the Stanley Cup finals against the Rangers. The games were all being played in the middle of the night (in the UK), but even if they had been in prime time, there were only three TV networks in Britain, and none of them were broadcasting NHL hockey. The internet as we know it today didn’t exist, and there was no such thing as YouTube, or streaming services, or watching things online.

The ability for me to sit in my living-room in Ashcroft and watch the Victory Day parade live as it happened in Moscow, or for my husband to watch a Premier League match that was not being broadcast on TV over here, is fairly new. Up until about a century ago, it would have been considered magic (at best), or sorcery or witchcraft (at worst); until 50 years ago it would have been science fiction. In 1994 it was still nowhere on the horizon, but less than 30 years later it’s a fact of life.

There’s no doubt that these opportunities and possibilities are wonderful things. And it’s not all frivolity and fun; how many people (especially in the last year) have been able to access essential services such as some types of medical care virtually, often from the comfort of their home? How many have taken advantage of the opportunity to see places they would otherwise never get to go to, or visit live with family and friends? I can’t be together with my son, who lives in Prince George, but we were able to watch the Moscow parade “together” and chat via messages as it took place. It wasn’t the same as if we were standing side-by-side in the rain in Red Square, but it was a chance to take part in something together for the first time in a long time.

If this article has a message, it is that we live in a world of wonders, and that while the internet can be a divisive and scary place, that is more than outweighed by what it enables us to do. As Dr. Seuss so wisely put it, oh, the places you’ll go! Why not book a trip somewhere? You don’t even need to worry about the weather.

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