David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
NOT Traveling Blog, 4th Week Of March
In 2014 I was voted by USA Today readers as one of the top ten business travel bloggers in the USA. Now mind you, I turned out to be number ten on the list of ten, but I did make it on (with my thanks to all those who voted.) Now that we’re all stuck at home and not traveling, I had to think about what to do with my blogs. I could stop writing them entirely – waiting till we all get through the current COVID19 pandemic / crisis. I could wax nostalgic and/or complain about past trips. Or, I could focus all of my efforts on my day job – growing the use of collaboration technologies – especially in light of how many people are now forced to use those tools for the first time. In reflecting upon those choices, what I decided to do is compile an ongoing list of observations during the crisis. Some of these may amuse, some may inform, some may sadden and others may help. My goal will be for you to have seen something in a different light than you did before you stopped to read the blog. I was going to apologize for how disjointed these thoughts may seem when put together, but then it dawned on me that feeling disjointed is our new normal – at least for a little while.
So, in no particular order:
· Before you do anything else today, make sure you watch the now viral video (are we still allowed to use the term “viral” in good taste?) of a frustrated mom-thrust-into-home-teacher role (with subtitles.) I’m not sure how authentic it is, but it is a fair comment to teachers everywhere – maybe ease-up a bit, at least until we get into some sort of pandemic rhythm.
· Social media vs. regular media is providing a fascinating case study. On TV (as I write this) we are still seeing commercials for mall-store weekend sales (as if nothing had happened) showing us how far in advance these spots are created and scheduled. We are just now beginning to see on TV and hear on the radio commercials made in response to the crisis. I honestly don’t know which is creepier – watching tweens dance around in the outfits they’re urging us to come down (to a store that’s closed) to buy, or hearing some firm actually acknowledge the crisis and that life has just radically changed for the foreseeable future. It’s kind of a toss-up. Social media on the other hand is already flooded with posts about the pandemic. I used to use Twitter and Facebook and other sites to stay on top of what was going on in the world – an activity that has become much, much more depressing than it was before. And, while I’m on the subject of social media, somebody has clearly ‘turned that up to eleven.’ People who regularly use (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) seem to be living on it 24/7, and people who have never really used it much are actually dipping their toes in for the first time. (A post I made yesterday received a “like” from an ex co-worker that hasn’t shown her face on Facebook for years.)
· Remember that old Sylvester Stallone / Sandra Bullock movie Demolition Man? The high level plot is that after being frozen for many years Stallone’s character is woken-up to a society that has completely changed. One of the changes included the idea that ‘franchise wars’ took place, and as a result all restaurants became Taco-Bells. I remind you of this now for two reasons. Firstly, that after this pandemic is over it’s entirely possible that all retailers will become Amazons, and secondly, this movie is a frightening premonition of what our society may become. Not word-for-word identical of course, but I have to ask – is anyone else frightened that in many western democracies we now seem to be giving in to quite a bit of additional governmental power and reduced freedoms? I don’t see another possible choice at this time, but it doesn’t frighten me any less. We’ve already “postponed” primary elections in response to the crisis. That’s getting awfully close to the edge for me.
· The industry I work in (Communications and Collaboration) has stepped up in a big way offering their services to the millions that are now forced to work remotely. I’ve written dozens of blogs on remote working and am a huge proponent of it, but I realize that it is new to many. (Feel free to visit the non-profit IMCCA microsite to get links to videos, advice, etc. on how to use these tools.) One thing that everyone doesn’t realize is that while these conferencing and collaboration tools are great for business, but now that they’re free, they’re also great to use to stay in touch with friends and relatives. Go to www.zoom.us or www.bluejeans.com or www.gotomeeting.com or www.teams.microsoft.com or www.webex.com or any of the others, sign up for free while they’re letting you, and schedule a video call with anyone and everyone. Some great suggestions can include co-workers that you miss seeing every-day, extended family, friends, or anyone. How about having a virtual lunch with ten to twenty colleagues stuck at home? How about a virtual play-date or birthday party for your kids? How about evening cocktails with those two couples you usually have drinks with. If you don’t use these tools every day like I do you’ll be amazed both at how easy most are to use and how much less alone you’ll feel after spending time with people you care about.
· Funny post of the week is from a few colleagues posting floor-plans of their house, pondering their weekend travel plans. “My wife and I are considering visiting the attic for a quick, weekend get-away…”
· If there wasn’t enough reason to vote every US office holder out once this crisis is over, let’s keep an eye on how much they give away to prop-up the airlines (which is bound to happen) while getting nothing in return. If they don’t demand concessions – like no more stock buy-backs, no more change fees, reasonable room for coach seating, etc. – then none of them should be re-elected – ever.
· Now is a fair time to bring up the proven scientific term Natural Selection. Paraphrased, it represents the undisputable fact that those that are best able to adapt generally survive into subsequent generations, and those that are least able to adapt do not get the opportunity to create offspring, and thusly die-off more rapidly. Think of that when you see people taking selfies at the edge of a cliff, see spring-break partiers in Florida, or see idiots advocating/attending rallies and parties when there is a deadly pandemic going around. That’s clearly Natural Selection at work, with a pandemic speeding up the process. Perhaps it will eventually have a positive effect on our elections when only smarter people are around to vote. I’ve honestly been advocating this for years. Taking obvious warning labels off of household items (don’t put the plastic bag over your head, don’t stand on the top rung of the ladder, don’t aim the kitchen knife at yourself, etc.) would also have been a good first start at speeding this up.
· Now that there are much fewer people driving to stores to go shopping, the next chance you get for a mini road-trip, you should take a drive to your local Trader Joes. It will be the only time in your life it will be easy to park in their terrible lots with tiny spaces. (Of course, don’t get out of your car.) We have to find joy wherever we can in this crisis.
As always please feel free to write to me with comments or items I should add to a future Not Traveling blog (or if you just need someone to write to.) Stay safe, be well, hug those you’re sheltering with (but no one else) and do your best to stay positive. We’re going to be in this for a long while. IMHO anybody who thinks this will only be going on for a couple of weeks isn’t paying attention.
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.