Written by Annie Laskey, Events Director, Pasadena Senior Center
How many of you participated in a Zoom event before March 16, 2020? Come on, raise your virtual hands! What, no one? Oh, there’s one!
I was vaguely aware of Zoom before the pandemic isolation forced it front and center. After all, most of my jobs and my hobbies are (were?!) all about bringing people together for a shared in-person experience: travel, theatre, walking tours, dancing, and now hosting parties and lectures. Why would I bother with a virtual event, when I have so many actual things to do all around me?
Today, in the strange way the world works, I find myself now participating in seven or eight Zoom events each week. There are classes, parties, meetings, and socials; sometimes one right after the other, sometimes all at the same time. On a recent Sunday, I was invited to a 4:00pm party, a 4:30pm rehearsal of a PSC program, and a 5:00pm lecture (I managed to do two out of three).
And now I’m tasked as Events Director with creating and hosting these things. Me, a techno-phobe! I was forced to face the truth; that it will likely be a very long time before it will be safe to hold live, in-person-at-the-Senior-Center dance parties, luncheons, concerts or lectures. I had no choice but to buck up and tackle Zoom. After all, the show (and the parties) must go on!
Zoom is not a replacement for in-person events. It isn’t really even a substitute since an online experience is so different from one face-to-face. However, it’s one of the few ways left for organizations to connect with their communities, and for friends to connect with each other. What did they do during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic without Zoom?! Eek!
Zoom is now almost unavoidable for anyone with internet access. For those of you who have resisted the lure of technology, and have not yet plunged into the Zoom ocean, the water is fine – come on in! Join an online class or lecture. Or join my weekly Social Hour (shameless plug: Social Hour is Tuesdays at 10:30am, sign up at https://www.pasadenaseniorcenter.org/social-hour). And for all its drawbacks, there is one overriding reason to do Zoom: we can. Not only do you get to see your friends and enjoy your interests, you don’t have to drive to get there!
Now for a few quick tips about Zoom. Remember these few things: 1) People can see you (or they can if you have your video enabled). Dress for the event – or at least comb your hair. 2) People WANT to see you. Position yourself with lamps and windows in front of you, not behind you. That way we’ll see your face, not just a shadowed blob. 3) People can hear you. Know how to Mute your microphone! Not only is background noise distracting for others but remember that open mikes pick up comments you might not have wanted to make public (ask any politician).
Are you ready? On your mark, get set, Zoom!