• Jim Richardson

Here’s How I’m Coping with Coronavirus and Social Distancing

(this is a song with hope...)

I hear other people hemming and hawing about toilet paper shortages, death counts, hoarding food…fill in the blank. All the different theories, all the different opinions. Masks work. Masks don’t work unless you’re sick. You can only get it once. Once you get it, you are fine if you are young. Tom Hanks had it. blah blah blah.

But also, something great is happening. People are adapting!!!! My kids, who had their schools shut down, are starting to learn online web conference etiquette when they all congregate online to learn together and socialize from distance. My work has had all employees work from home and it was easy because we were built from the start to be a cloud-first modern and adaptive company. We never had to digitally transform - we just started there. Online meetings, chat and scheduled calls have been the new normal for us for years, so it was no shocker to start working from home with just a couple of hours notice. Plus we have no servers :)

But how do you deal with all this uncertainty during Coronavirus? How do we embrace the changes that we have to make to continue to live in a new world? In California, we’ve already had to adapt to the now yearly event called “Wildfires”. We have to learn without power for the most of the day when there are high winds now. So, we have candles and flashlights and use our mobile phones for internet. It happens every Fall. I’m sure in other parts of the country, you are laughing saying “Hurricanes since 1955”. But yes….this is the great super power of humans - our adaptivity. We take lemons and make lemonade.

But being adaptive isn’t always easy. Sometimes, we deal with shock or panic at the change of life and work style. It gets depressing or we don’t know what to do because we haven’t been here before.

But I have - for a while actually. Everyone had made fun of us. The gamers. We stayed home and got on headsets instead of gathering at a mall. We were the first online collaborators, working together in real time inside a game to solve things and achieve things. We talked while online, we chatted in chat rooms. We came up with funny little things like “afk”, or “bio” - things that now appear in work chats! But we learned how to remain social while not being near each other. I mean, I still went to arcades and Dave & Busters and to the movies too, but nothing beat sitting in the beanbag with the headset on playing mario kart online or when I was older playing World of Warcraft in the dark while the family slept. And we worked together - we competed together - we told jokes, learned strategies, shared information, and met online. It became second nature.

Others who didn’t adapt are still dealing with going from telephone audio conferencing into “how do you install this thing” when using online conferencing software. They run into feedback issues with open mics, they don’t understand the simple “mute” button, they don’t realize they only need one connection to the meeting, they leave their mics on during the conference and we hear background noise, they pick their nose not realizing their camera is on….I could go on and on.

Don’t get me wrong, humans NEED physical contact - we need to gather and celebrate things like sports and live music and Disneyland. And we will again soon. But under new circumstances. We had to change with 9/11 and now you have to go through medical detectors everywhere you go. Now, we have to bring sanitizer and tissues wherever we go and probably more measures to come to restore the “new normal”. Believe me, I started to use paper towels while pumping gas now, and also I use a stylus to press numbers on ATM and credit card machines. Sign with my finger!?!?!?! Hahahaha. I'm leaning to sign with my elbow.

Another thing I'm doing to deal with Coronavirus is to turn off the media, and connect with my friends and family. Commercial media’s interests are in keeping us watching so the companies keep buying commercial airtime. Yes, some local news is good in telling you what is in your community but all the punditry and opinions now just breed fear and suspicious and "what if's". Also, the social media!!! Oh my what a mess. The media has a lot of control of people. Just listen to Rage Against the Machine hehe. But really, since we have to practice social distancing in these early days, we gotta remember to “Reach out and Touch Someone” as the old AT&T saying goes. Do a FaceTime with a friend, setup a free Microsoft Teams meeting and invite your family around the world - and have a virtual online Family Reunion. Have a family dinner if you are used to eating out. Go for a hike, or ride bikes.

And don't worry - if you aren't watching the news you will still get the information you need - just look to your Email! Hasn't EVERY company in the world you ever ever dealt with sent you an Email about how they are dealing with Coronavirus? I did it too. So, that's an official channel telling you what's going on without opinion or hype. Also, you can check your local city, county and state governments for official statements and guidelines on what you can do to prevent things. Just be CAREFUL with this Email nonsense. Stupid hackers are on the prowl and they will try to slip in a fake Coronavirus Email telling you that free testing kits are available or something. Just be extra careful with that stuff that is asking you to do something. Look at it carefully.

I do sense a great moment in history however. The true start to the "Roaring 20s". What we may have seen lately was divisiveness, making fun of everything, extreme sarcasm, hate …. we're starting to see a better side. Communities coming together. Acts of kindness. Consideration and a lot more happy people. Putting our minds together to solve a problem. Working from the beanbag at home with the headset on. When we put THAT on social media, we will win. It will spread like the Coronavirus.


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