“Virtual” is a word I didn’t spend much time thinking about until last month. In the past, I associated virtual technology with interactive video games and theme park attractions. Then, real estate and travel industries adopted virtual tours and some businesses and organizations offered virtual webinars to reach wider audiences. Still, those offerings seemed boring to me, and I largely ignored them. I’d rather get out and do rather than stay home and see, I thought.
That changed, of course, in March 2020, a month that will be written about in history books. In just a couple weeks’ time, kids were sent home from school, most employees ordered to work from home, events cancelled, and all but the “essential” establishments closed to the public. Despite early warnings about the looming COVID-19 pandemic’s impact, the rapid restrictions implemented for public safety left most of us reeling–bewildered and unsure how to carry on.
Now, over a month into the pandemic, we are, in fact, carrying on. And we’re doing it virtually.
As Marylanders follow orders to self-isolate, work remotely, and homeschool our children, all the tools we have are “virtual.” Businesses, organizations, schools, museums, faith communities and even governments have adapted to virtual meetings, tours, lessons, and ceremonies. With a statewide stay-at-home order in effect, all this virtual content allows us to connect to the groups that are important to us and to be exposed to new opportunities as well.
To paraphrase Madonna’s “Material Girl,” we are living in a virtual world. Sure, we can go out for exercise, greet our neighbors from a distance, and spend time in nature. When we crave outside stimulus, however, the safest bets are Facebook Live talks, Zoom group video chats, and virtual learning.
That’s why Bay Weekly is getting on the virtual train, launching a Virtual Events Calendar new for this week. In case you feel overloaded by so many online options (as I do), our calendar guru Kathy Knotts has curated a weekly list of locally driven virtual content you may be interested in. We’re also spotlighting inventive ways Bay country is using technology to keep doing business (Virtual music lessons? Brilliant!).
Yes, we’re embracing all things virtual, and in our boldest move yet, we’re even taking this newspaper virtual. We want you to stay home as much as possible, so we’re giving you a way to “flip through” Bay Weekly page by page, story by story. Now’s the time to sign up with your email address for our new weekly online edition. It’s free, as Bay Weekly always has been. Just go to www.bayweekly.com and enter your email when prompted by our pop-up box.
Yes, we’re still printing Bay Weekly and we’re working hard to get copies into your hands. For now, you’ll find us at essential businesses only–rest assured that when your favorite pickup spots have reopened, our newsprint edition of Bay Weekly will be right back in those spots.
In the meantime, stay home when you can and please join us in the virtual world. It’s our best chance of staying connected to our communities until we get to return to plain old (non-virtual) reality.