With the onset of the Covid pandemic, my in-person social interactions ground to a halt in March of 2020. Some of the things that stopped happening were dining out, live theater and movies, musical performances, in-person work in community organizations, time in the local library, attending live medical CME. Drastically restricted were things like personal interactions associated with relatively necessary tasks like shopping, medical and dental appointments and procedures, and automobile maintenance.
Like most of my friends and acquaintances, I began interacting remotely using tools like FaceTime and Zoom and using the internet to take courses and stream events. I've taken a collection of computer and coding related courses, a couple woodworking and photography courses, and streamed numerous history, photography, coding, and music instructional sessions. And, of course, have immersed myself in the epidemiology and public health communities online.
Some of these virtual activities have been outstanding. My Dartmouth College class (1969) has beenb doing a series of 2-hour online Casual Conversations. They began with monthly presentations by classmates on a topic of interest or expertise (photo essay of MLB stadiums, mining safety and regulation, treating hypertension, education law, management of professional athletics, arguing before the supreme court, woodland management, Civil War battles) but have increased in frequency and have expanded to include a very diverse set of topics by national figures: defending death row cases, Russian geopolitics, quantum mechanics, Viennese cooking, Alzheimer's disease. Invited speakers have featured leading researchers, academics, and authors, including such noteworthies as Paul Offit, Brendan Nyhan, John Carey, Deborah Birx, John Kitzhaber. We have also had a Traveling Troupe that has done regular play readings, a Jewish Culture Group focusing on Jewish history and culture, and a regular virtual AA meeting.
Though I continue to miss some of the benefits of in-person interactions, I have to say the the breadth and depth of what our Class of '69 has done has been incredible. I have gotten to know classmates I barely remember from my undergraduate years (which were more than half a century ago) and learned about things that I would never have spent time or energy on.
The cloud has had one hell of a silver lining.