In the new normal of today, I’m sure most of you are like me and finding yourself spending an inordinate amount of time online. Not just for observational activities like flicking through social media, sharing hilarious videos, or checking out what’s trending on any of your channels (hello 12-foot skeleton from the hardware store) but also interactive video conferencing time – to work or just stay in touch with family and friends – to socialize and connect.
I’m lucky in that I am able to do my part-time day job fairly easily working from home. As a freelancer (and as a writer), I am used to working on my own, setting and keeping deadlines, and managing my time. However, in this job, I need to work with the team on a regular basis. Whether it’s catch ups, screen sharing to collaborate on a piece of work, or team / organisaztional meetings, we are on video conferencing for a good portion of the day. It’s great to have this avenue open to me, but sometimes my ears just get tired from wearing headphones all day. I can let you in on a little secret: inventing new chair dances to the connecting song of MS Teams helps. Don’t laugh. Try it.
Being an exPat who is pretty close to her family and with friends all over the world, I already spend a lot of time on video calls. My personal book club moved online years ago to cover and accommodate many time zones and areas of the world. But now I’m FaceTiming friends who live across the city and Zooming into my meditation group. I attend exercise classes online, fiddling around with the camera angle so my teacher can tell better tell me how to adjust my plank. There is just so much time online, on camera, on task – just being “on.” Some days, I just don’t want to stare at a screen any more – no matter who’s on the other side, and especially if I have to look at my own face too.
I shouldn’t complain – it’s connection in a time of distance and enables us to see those we love, even if on a laptop, tablet, or phone. This virtual ability allows me to have a glass of wine with a friend or say hello to my folks. Also, I volunteer for the MS Society in Surrey where I live, and because we can’t meet in person, we’re in the process of setting up an online quiz and a virtual book club. Both should be fun and gives us a chance to connect with those we’re not able to meet with in person.
I know it has even adjusted the way authors engage their audiences and how they launch a book. I recently attended John Hambly’s virtual book launch of Samson Rising, a beautiful memoir about former rugby player, John, his life, his resilience in adversity, and the creation of the Samson Centre for MS. It was really well produced event with fun special guests – all in all an amazing evening.
I didn’t release my latest book, Landbound, with an online event, but I am considering a virtual reading sometime soon… Watch this space.