*Me speaking to my grandchildren in 2060*: You know everybody, there was a time, believe it or not, when it was perfectly acceptable to sit in your living room BY YOURSELF and get hammered, so long as there was a web cam on.
I’m of course already dating/aging myself as I don’t think anyone says “web cam” anymore. The need, for the most part, of an external device that provides you with video capability for a meeting/chat is gone. But my point still stands. From the work place to social lives, 2020 was the year of the virtual meeting.
To start, the introduction of quarantine was a huge test of “how much does your company fucking suck?” If you’re like me and have friends whose job satisfaction ranges from apathetic to “I hope I get t-boned on the ride in,” it was fascinating to watch which companies did what. Most did the right thing and just shut down the offices, which for some was a gigantic 180 from their normal stance on working from home. Some tried to avoid that drastic of an action and went to a reduced office presence with different people in on different days. I had one friend whose company just happened to have a half-filled office lying around an hour away and they sent some folk to work there for awhile. No big deal, just that added gas money and commuting time with no kind of stipend for it. For those of us who got to go full remote however, it was mostly for the first time. Do you put on pants? Do you gel your hair? Can you listen to ESPN in the background? So many questions with so little to guide us. I was in a particularly odd position as I actually started my job the first day of Charlie Baker’s lockdown here in MA. Never met a coworker in person, never got to see the office. To make matters even stranger for folks like me, companies have different policies on whether or not to even turn on the damn webcam. So I ended working with a string of mystery men and women like I’m a Charlie’s fucking Angel or something. Bizarre man.
The social scene was a different monster entirely. What happens when such a well oiled machine completely breaks down? When you want to meet up with your friends you go to their house or a bar, if you just are looking for some companionship for the night, the latter of the two. Those simple mechanisms disappeared, literally overnight on March 22nd. Now what? Our generation is arguably the most social yet and suddenly we were barred from being just that. Then video chatting sprang up to save the day. It was always there, but it received little use outside of long distance relationships hell bent on failing or for that one friend that moved to Boulder because “they liked the energy more.” Now Zoom, Google chat, etc. were the only way to share a beverage and a chat with your pals. It was weird at first. I think everyone can admit that. And then it just kind of became normal. Hell, an entire app, House Party, emerged just to facilitate conversations and games between friends who were locked down. Even if we couldn’t be together, we still gonna have a few brewskis, shit talk each other, maybe gossip a little, and if you’re anything like my friends, have food delivered mid fucking conversation. It added such a bizarre layer of disconnect that has been at once sad and entertaining.
On the social end, the video chats dried up back when things started opening up again, only to reappear over the past month or so amid a surge in cases. Who knows if this will remain a thing moving forward when folks just straight up don’t want to leave their houses or when you gather with friends and want to call that one friend who moved to Oregon to “be more with nature” (they work at a coffee shop). Who knows. All I know is what once would have been viewed as halfway to being a page out of a virtual version of “Eyes Wide Shut” is now the way friends stay in touch. And that aint a bad thing.