Let me start by saying my heart breaks for anyone living in fear, those showing symptoms, and everyone who has lost a loved one. Truly, there are no words.
I’m lucky. I’m having an okay time of our pseudo-quarantine. The way some creative people, most of them young, have found ways to use the internet to keep life going amazes me. Thanks to them, I’m not feeling the limitations that would normally be driving me crazy. Not a whole lot has changed in my life. If anything, I’m doing more.
For those feeling at a loss in this new world, I want to share some of what I’ve been up to.
Surprisingly, I’m still attending dance classes. In fact, I have almost too many options, and since I don’t have to fight traffic to get to a studio, I’m squeezing in more lessons than I was able to before. I’m dancing Lindy hop and shag classes on Facebook Live and Zoom. I’m taking tap on IGTV and trying to finally master the ShimSham through videos sent to me by my teacher. I haven’t yet made time for ballet, but it’s available live online.
For non-dancers, other kinds of classes are also internet-ready. Right now, I’m digging deep into the woo-woo side of the universe by attending a weekly astrology class on Zoom. The instructor comes to us live each week from Budapest, and my classmates log in from China, Australia, and several in the U.S. I have also heard of people teaching Tarot reading, astrology, and meditation completely online. Let the magic begin!
In addition to what I’m doing, I have friends and family who are taking online Tai Chi and martial arts classes. I’m betting almost everyone can find something of interest by logging in and doing a quick internet search.
Not feeling energetic right now? Maybe time hanging with friends would lift your spirits. Forget the days of bridging distance via phone call or even text. Those options are so pre-shelter-at-home. We have Zoom for everything from cocktail parties to card game get-togethers. Lovingly called lockdown parties, they are quite the thing to do. Posting pictures of dancing in on-screen soirees brings instant social media buzz, and dancing in a facemask is even better. For those of us who aren’t in the mood to party hardy but would still like a little in-your-FaceTime with family or friends, there’s the obvious FaceTime and Skype.
Right now, my friends and I are planning our first Netflix Party. This free download synchronizes your screens and opens a group chat, so partygoers can bug each other during the movie, just like they would in a theater. Everyone pops their own corn, mixes up a drink of choice, and settles in to enjoy the show. Under the circumstances, I’m thinking maybe a nice Disney movie, or perhaps a revisit of classic Marx Brothers.
I’m starting to believe there isn’t much we can’t do right now. The most unexpected things are occurring online. For example, I belong to a cooperative writing space. It is exactly what it sounds like, a place where people go to write. Since the physical space is the event, you might think it proves the limit of the virtual world. You would be incorrect. In fact, I am writing these very words from that “space.” Using a group chat app, which, honestly, I had never heard of, members meet in a virtual room and write. It’s kind of crazy how well it’s working.
You can find art exhibits and concerts online. There are conferences and professional meetings. Most churches and spiritual centers are streaming. The best restaurants in town have started offering takeout. Doctors have mastered telemedicine and pharmacies will bring meds to your door for free. If you take away the whole COVID-19 aspect of all this, it’s kind of exciting.
And that’s the worry that niggles just off stage.
If we’re not careful, even when this passes, the virtual world might seem more appealing than risking contact with other people. Residual fear could leave us hesitant to participate in real-life events. We may construct a semi-quarantine that remains long after the need has passed.
And why not?
Because we are social animals who become depressed with too little group-hug time. Because we need to come back together to support each other and rebuild the world. Because slow dancing still works better when you cling to an actual partner.
During this terrifying time, we should all have fun and stay connected through online get-togethers. But when this is over, we need to shake off our fears and, in real space, throw the best, the biggest, the rowdiest parties ever seen.
Take that COVID-19! We’re still here, together.