Kicking. Screaming. Streaming.

Staying Sane In Digital Terrain

Editor's Note:

This Week In Peace chronicles the true life experiences of Khalilah Ramirez, a peace-centric performance artist in San Jose. She is writing more often during this shelter in place to connect and uplift.

Welcome to This Week In Peace! It is an honor to write about our lives in these unprecedented times. The goal is to add joy, peace and humor to our current situation. These emotions are healing, restorative tools we can use to build ourselves up.

This is week two, day 11 of our collective self-distancing/isolation movement. The good news is that this tactic seems to be working to "flatten the curb" and keep the spread of COVID-19 to a minimum. This is amazing news on two levels! 1) Far less people are getting sick. 2) This is solid evidence that the people of the Bay Area are fully capable of cooperating on a large scale for the greater good whenever we feel like it. Truly awesome! Gratitude toward everyone who is doing their part to keep us all a little safer. The roads are empty, the stores are less crowded, restaurants and bars are closed. So where is everyone? Everyone is on the internet.

Once upon a time, there was no internet. When I graduated high school in 1995, the internet was in it's infancy. Youtube, Amazon, Google and other companies that seem to rule the world had yet to be born. People watched cable television and talked on the phone via landline. All business and social meetings were conducted in person. If you had a question or needed info, you had to ask a fellow human or read an actual book. There was no such thing as email. 

Fast forward to 2020. Everyone over the age of 8 now carries devices that are part camera, part telephone and part supercomputer in their pockets. Using these devices has become second nature. Devices are designed to be increasingly "intuitive", anticipating human needs in advance and solving them. Yet "intuitive" is the exact opposite of how I would describe interacting with devices and the virtual world. Last week, I led my first ever online yoga class, not realizing that the camera defaults to anyone who makes a sound. I will chalk that up to a fun learning experience. 

My friends have shared similar stories. A coordinator pal told me that she had six web conferences in one day. "I can't believe how exhausting online meetings are!" she confided, "So much pressure for it to be perfect!" 

I relate to this for the first time. Conducting classes in sweaty real life was an all-time favorite medium. Humans are naturally energetic beings. I firmly believed that the energy transfers need to happen up close for maximum benefits. Imagine my surprise when I found that online life can be equally uplifting! The same levels of excitement gripped me when seeing my friends on screen. Video conferencing was like visiting with eight people at once. In my imagination, we were all vacuumed up into a fiber optic portal. There were pink and blue lights flashing on the journey, the sound was a quiet roar. Then CLICK! With no warning, we're in this cyber space "cloud" together. We can't hug but we can still see, hear and love each other with the same enthusiasm. One part of me was dragged kicking and screaming to this new world like, "Nooooo! I need to hug!!" The other part of me willingly, eagerly adapts to these changes for the reward of being with friends. This wise part knows that all of this is temporary. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you (like I am) are facilitating online spaces with absolutely no clue what you are doing:

* It doesn't need to be perfect. There is no perfect, even in cyberspace. Do you best, that's enough.

* Entertain yourself by dressing up. Include dramatic flares like scarves, makeup and costume jewelry. This will amuse friends and add value to whatever you're doing.

* Invite people who don't normally meet online. When isolated, it's easy to think that other people don't care. Show friends that you care by inviting them to online events that they wouldn't usually attend.

* If you have a meeting, class or obligation online but simply cannot bring yourself to change out of your pajamas today,  just leave the camera off. This is something novel that we can't do in real life! Lead the meeting with your voice. Friends online will understand. Why? Because they are experiencing the same things!

Lastly, don't forget to rest. It can feel like we aren't doing as much but that simply isn't true. Give yourself the downtime you need to thrive and allow others to do the same. Thanks and see you online :-)

Read More of This Week in Peace:
The Elephant in the Equinox
The Real Us
Best Friend Nemesis