It’s Sunday night, and I have ‘been in’ New Zealand most of the past week at ConZealand, this year’s WorldCon. By ‘being in’ New Zealand, I was of course referring to being at the convention ‘virtually.’
This has been the very first completely online WorldCon, courtesy of COVID-19. As everyone has been fond of saying this year, things have been unprecedented. So for the last five days, and a solid chunk of the last couple of weeks, I have been doing things virtually.
Three weeks ago I had never used Discord. I had used Zoom, but not like I have this week. I have discovered that I can listen to two devices at once, by bluetoothing headphones and earphones. (This means headphones on with an earpiece in one ear.)
I have discovered that you can meet people via Zoom, and like them. That people on Discord are fun. That you can have a meaningful conversation on Zoom, or Discord, and that there are more options than I ever realised in the digital world.
Thank you to the organisers of ConZealand, and all of the worldwide community of fans who made this such a fun online event.
At the same time, I’ve watched the COVID situation in the world descend even further into chaos. Here in Australia, Victoria is heading into stage 4 lockdown. So far, the situation in Melbourne in particular has worsened, and not improved. This bug is so incredibly contagious, that the government has brought in strict restrictions.
On that note, I implore you, that if you’re reading this, that you take the restrictions seriously, no matter where you are. Distance. Hygiene. Masks if so directed. But seriously, if you’re at home, you’re safe. Both from catching the bug, or passing it on, should you become infected.
Australia did so well at the beginning, and then people relaxed, so that when the virus escaped into the community, it found a fertile ground in which to reproduce.
I know it’s incredibly frustrating for many people to be stuck at home, and largely indoors, with limited ability to go out. It’s also hard to not see family and friends. I really get that. We have one child 2000km north, and our other one 4000km west. My aged parents are also in the west, 4000km away, along with more family. My husband’s family is west, again, or in NZ. Both of us understand how difficult it is to go months and months without seeing some of our most loved.
But distance is the key. Even in states with little or no transmission, if you don’t need to go out, then don’t. Stay home. We know full well that it only takes one infected person to set off a chain of cases that can grow exponentially. If you have to go out, respect physical distancing, and stay 1.5m away from others.
Be safe. Be sensible. Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about the whole community.