On the theme of connection this month, guest contributor Cheryl Farrell writes about cherishing friendships made during the pandemic.
Thank you for your friendship, Cheryl.
Online Friends Matter
As quarantine life slowly closes out and we return to “normal,” a question arises for me: Are online pandemic relationships long-lasting connections that matter? The short answer: a resounding yes!
After spending over a year interacting with people on Zoom and other remote conferencing platforms, I have emotional housecleaning to do. I must assess what to keep and what to discard. My digital friends belong firmly in the keep bucket.
With schools opening, restaurants serving indoors, and hugs possible again, we may overlook the importance of friendships made during restricted times. Even introverts like me are eager to dance in the streets and leave all else behind.
But, I feel compelled to pause before cutting off folks whose images have been housed on my laptop screen for many months. I developed national and international communities in chat rooms, breakout groups, and on podcasts. In addition to work meetings, I became part of four personal online groups that developed organically. One conversation started with a friend who invited a new friend and on and on it went.
The four groups came from reunions of 1) UCLA alumnae, 2) fellow phone-bankers in the 2008 Presidential election, 3) former work colleagues at a medical institution, and 4) parents of my children’s playdates from decades ago. If not for the pandemic, it’s unlikely we would have connected on a monthly basis—or even at all.
The Beauty of Remote Friendships
Our groups met without the encumbrances of highway traffic or time zones. Although we were unable to share the same physical space, we were able to have intimate conversations. (No recorded sessions, of course.)
We held birthday, graduation, and retirement parties, happy hours, yoga sessions, memorial services, diversity and inclusion discussions, book reviews, storytelling, and more.
We met in our pajamas and bare feet. Our screens projected bedrooms, closets, backyard patios, and far-flung virtual backgrounds.
We cried, laughed, prayed, sang, and sat silently to hear each other breathe.
For these reasons, remote friendships and kinships are real. For these reasons, we must cherish every minute and every memory. There’s no turning back. There’s no forgetting where we’ve been together … while apart.
You matter. We matter together. Let’s continue to nurture our collective heartbeat. Let’s unmute ourselves in the world we’re greeting anew. It’s what we do as humans to connect in difficult times and share the good.
Cheryl Farrell is a corporate communications consultant and performance storyteller in Southern California. She has decades of experience in healthcare, education, and financial services. Cheryl was an original cast member of the Jeopardy! Clue Crew (2001 to 2008) and toured the world appearing in more than 1,000 video clips. She is developing a book proposal that examines how older black women excel at the intersection of race, gender, and age. Cheryl has a master’s degree in Communication Management from USC and a bachelor’s degree in economics from UCLA. She is married and has two adult children.
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