Who’s ZOOMin’ whom?
COVID-19 makes various virtual platforms community lifelines
Community and connection are key. That’s among the litany of lessons COVID-19 has taught us already. However, those of us helping to flatten the curve accepted new ways of maintaining community and connection.
Children and grandchildren, who can’t stand outside Pop Pop’s nursing home window, must FaceTime him. A great-grandma sits in her lounge chair, while great-grandchildren shout, “We love you!” through her iPad speaker — courtesy of Google Hangout. Virtual platforms — once meant only to begin relationships — are now sustaining them.
Hit To Be (In A) Square
ZOOM and WebEx are no longer just conduits of tedious virtual work-related gatherings or coalitions meetings that include people who can’t mute (or unmute) themselves. They’ve become the only portals to intentionally gathering with people you like — or even love.
My surreal Easter Sunday included being in communion with two different families of choice after attending Dignity Washington’s virtual Mass. (Dignity Washington [D.C.] is a chapter of DignityUSA, a community of LGBTQ Catholics. This Catholic-adjacent Protestant attends Mass with my Catholic boyfriend. But, I digress.)
Flirting with waiters
After cooking our respective meals, we virtually break bread and drink wine together — over bitchy conversation. That replaces our group — known as the Dignettes — heading to a different DuPont Circle restaurant each week. Virtual dinners have one drawback. We can’t tease one friend about flirting waiters for the time being. Here’s sincerely hoping they’ll still be waiters with whom to flirt.
A special gathering followed my Dignette dining experience last Sunday. Seminary siblings — shout to Chicago Theological Seminary and all #LEADERSOFTHENEXT — spent four hours laughing with and loving each other. That shared experience left us with an inexplicable bond. It filled my soul in ways there’s no way to articulate — all thanks to ZOOM and fabulous friends.
WebEx also helped provide an alternative getting together with another group of friends at Nellie’s Sports Bar. And, I’m not even sportsy. Who knew being virtually catty and petty queens is almost fun as it is in real-time. In this perilous and surreal moment, we’re cherishing the ties that bind more. ZOOM and WebEx is helping making the proverbial thread even stronger.
Why connect? How do you connect virtually?
Benefits of virtual connections:
• Virtual hugs, laughs, and love are better than none at all.
• Seeing faces and hearing voices can really soothe the soul.
• Serious conversation, idle chit-chat, and catty comments keep your mind sharp.
Ways to connect:
Loss of community and connection, in real-time, can be traumatic. And, not everyone can access these virtual platforms — due to living with a disability or being poor. In this time of danger and uncertainty, do what you can make everyone in your presence is seen and heard.
It must be acknowledged that having these virtual platforms at some of our fingertips wreaks of privilege. If possible, we must pledge to spread that privilege around. Everyone deserves the right to connection and community. No one deserves to be invisible.