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On Clubhouse, real-life relationships, bananas and getting used to living in a pandemic

By Danié Gómez-Ortigoza

February 7, 2021

We are living at a time where nothing seems to be happening, and yet the structure of society is profoundly shifting. Living in Miami is like living in a bubble. If you want, you can just live a normal life, party without masks and live in denial of the virus, and how it’s evolving. I take the safest route I can, keeping my inner-peace at bay, which translates into very limited outings, always with full mask protocol or outdoor distanced get-togethers, while my kids go to school wearing masks.

When I walk to pick them up at school, I see the contrast between the office spaces that are empty, and the new restaurants that are opening, replacing many of those that didn’t survive the months of struggle and uncertainty of the pandemic. I work from home, a lot more than I used to because I am expected to be always available, which wasn’t the way it was before,  as I juggle pick-ups, homework and house-work without the benefit of being social and charging myself with the energy of others, which was what I loved the most about my work life.

I’m still married, which also seems to be an accomplishment when I look at statistics, and at the people around me. Before the pandemic, my husband traveled all the time, and I was in full charge of my kids, but now the roles have shifted and he is doing a lot at home. We see each other all the time, and it often that becomes overwhelming. The dynamic changed in such way that I started taking many things for granted for the last 11 months. Then he left for a work trip, and I realized how much positive space he takes in our life, and how important it is to have him around. It’s not easy for relationships for those of us who live with someone, to relay on that one person for every role right now, that our friendships and family links are, for the most, less present. It sometimes leads to unnecessary frictions.

I almost don’t see my friends, apart from what I see of them on social media. When I do see them, I enjoy it more than ever. The life of many of them, has become a blurry image in my head of good times, and voice conversations, because after a day of work, continuing to stare at a screen is too much for me, so I rarely do video-calls.

And then Clubhouse happened.

I’m still not sure what to think of it, and yet it seems by its valuation, from 100 million dollars in December to one billion at the end of January, that it’s making waves. The premise is simple: people around the world come together to talk, listen and learn from each other in real- time. I was welcomed to it by a good friend who says it has changed her life, given that now she has conversations with great people all the time, and those conversations are benefiting her career. When you look at the way people describe themselves, half of them do it in terms of their capital, or the amount of money they’ve raised for their business. They think having money makes them interesting. Perhaps we have reached such a low-low in society. I hope that’s not the case. I still believe in purpose and in money as a medium, and not an objective, and yet the only way of explaining why Clubhouse seems to be so relevant is through the economical value they determined it’s worth.

For me, it’s just overwhelming. I rarely have time for social media these days, and can’t think of over-expanding my reach to yet another social network. I do love conversations though, but mostly because I love people. But perhaps even friendships will move fully to the digital-sphere, and we will soon be moving fully into a virtual world, like the one I experience every-time I use Oculus. But there is a value to the energy fields of people and how that says so much even in silence. Will we have to sacrifice that, given the new strains of the virus that threatens to be around at least for three more years making our anatomy and bodily functions a threat to each other’s existence?

Perhaps it’s deeper than the other social networks; perhaps it will bring value to people in this fast-food knowledge dynamic that we’ve become so accustomed to, where we know very little about many things, and rarely have time to look in depth into anything or follow the path of discovery that is so very valuable. I also worry it can become another tool of political propaganda that spreads lies disguised as facts, that we must be weary about. Perhaps.

The effects of this virus on our social structure reminds me of bananas, and how they went through a similar struggle fighting a plague that has transformed them into a human engineered fruit. Can we still think of them as natural? Where is Mother Earth in all of this? Does destiny have space in a world of science?

Just like engineered babies: just this week I had a conversation with someone who had chosen to have two boys (they didn’t want girls), and their existence was hand-chosen in a lab. They have the same genetical age, but one is 6 years old, and the other one was frozen for 3 years and is now turning 3. It’s wonderful that people can access these procedures when their anatomy complicates the process of giving life, but then, what is life, really?

And the journey continues.

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