July 18, 2021: The networks make who you are

July 18, 2021: The networks make who you are. One of the things I learnt from the pandemic is to get out of the narrow space that I had built for me with high mental blocks and the real walls that slotted me into one place. We must remain there, I was told, by no one, but was internalized. Convention. Then the walls closed in and the space became the basement the screened porch. Those are the unmasked limit. I noted the frustration building up. No one to talk to. No one to connect with. Because we have been taught to look t life through the lens of place. Then WhatsApp happened. What was merely a side show among many tools began to take on life. I invoked the system to teach when we had to “pivot” in the March of 2020. All of a sudden it was no longer just another tool, but the central tool before other tools were adopted to live with the pandemic. COVID-19 brought video conferencing to me in a way that was only a science fiction. And the networks started. I realized that I had built these walls for no reason. Weekly chats with old friends and new networks. Weekly gatherings of colleagues from work old networks sustained. Webinars began to happen one after the other. So many new people, so many connections, the network began to grow. I felt liberated. Why didn’t we do this before. Why did it take the death of hundreds of thousands to tell us that the technology was sitting there already, we were caught in the habit of privileging the real, the mistake we are about to make as we fall back in the vaccine-protected slumber of the post-pandemic World and withdraw in the narrow spaces of the “real” instead of remaining in the wide-open virtual. Connected. 24/7. Some network is active. From March to January. Nearly eight months. Nurtured the networks. Nourished them with many hours in the basement in front of the computer screen. Purchased a larger monitor. Made the basement attractive. I knew there was no promise of “real” interactions where I was. Then there was the lull in the deaths. And it became clear that the progression of the network was in connecting the real and the virtual; some of the faces on the screen became masked faces six feet away as the real merged with the virtual. This is my experience; many would say that I had some privileges that allowed this. My profession. My lived circumstances. I agree, I had those advantages and I unabashedly grabbed them. I was terrified the old ways will come back and this opportunity of expanding my connections in the real and the virtual will never come again. Maybe they will, but as I took the wrong exit and accidentally got on to Maa instead of going straight on to Ruby, I felt young and exhilarated. Things are happening. Networks are growing. Good things will come about. Speed up. But be careful, there are speed cameras on the Bypass, and I have received a citation for speeding on the Bypass. Go figure. Today I meet the Mayor. Vaccination camps on the way. Things are moving fast, and I feel like what Van Halen said, “I found the simple life ain't so simple/When I jumped out, on that road

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