I don’t ordinarily feel the need to make the whole disclaimer that my thoughts are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employers but since this opinion hits close to home and happens to step right inside the circle of what I do for work day in and day out I felt the need, in this case, to make a distinction.
Hell isn’t merely paved with good intentions; it’s walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too.– Aldous Huxley
I’m seeing an overwhelming number of in-person events cancelling or moving to online-only. And you know what? It is making me sad. Very sad. In some instances, it’s heartbreaking. Especially for organizers.
Sometimes, that heartbreak hits me personally, as well. WordCamps I was going to speak at. Events where I would get to see my very close friends from across the globe. In person. An event that is the highlight of my partner’s year. Not just a professional highlight, a personal highlight. Meetups, parties, small events, huge conferences. All of these missed opportunities.
It’s just sad.
But it’s also necessary. Right now, thousands of event organizers are making the incredibly difficult call to cancel something that innumerable people have tirelessly worked toward only to end in an anticlimactic cancellation. It sucks but they’re making the best call they can. I support them and so should you.
In light of this I have an ask. It’s not a small one, it’s big. Because everyone wants to do what they can do to help. So I’m asking all of you who are jumping up and helping by organizing replacement events to just stop.
Stop it. You’re not honoring the event you’re replacing. You’re not honoring the organizers who had to make this terrible decision. You’re not helping.
Press pause. Do not organize that meet-up, that pop-up, that happy hour. Don’t bring people together in-person to replace an in-person event that was cancelled for good reason.
Mourn. That’s appropriate. This is sad. There is no joy in cancelling these events. But it’s being done to stem the tide of a rising global infection. Right now we do not know what we do not know. Particularly in the US. Where we have inadequate testing and, frankly, no idea what the spread looks like.
I’m not telling you that you have to stay home, that you have to self quarantine. That you have to be afraid. But I’m asking you to respect the difficult choices that these organizers are making.
Also, I’m asking you to wash your hands, cover your mouth with the crook of your elbow if you cough or sneeze, and stay away from people if you do happen to be sick. But really we should all be doing that all the time anyway.
If you want to help? Reach out to the organizers to find out if there’s anything they need. If you have expertise in online events, offer to help them make that happen. If you don’t have expertise in online events, well wouldn’t now be an ideal time to learn?
Be supportive. Check in with friends and community members to see if they need to just have a Zoom or Skype or whatever virtual platform you prefer. If you’re well and know someone in a high risk group who can’t go out, see if they need anything. If you’re sick, please stay home.
But for goodness sake please stop organizing in-person events to replace those you feel you’re missing.