This is the ninth and final chapter of my Community Manager Diary, and it’s almost about going back to normality after all the restrictions due to COVID-19 lockdown. If you haven’t read the previous chapters of this series, here is a link to the very first article of it.
Take me to the other side
With several countries starting the de-escalation process, thinking about what will happen next is inevitable. What scenarios will we face in this ‘new normality’? Our lives will be forever changed – our relationships, our social interactions with others – all this and more will reflect the consequences of this situation. How we manage the exit will determine what type of individuals we end up being.
Dear Lockdown Diary
I have a sensation of constant fear about what will happen next. I was afraid at the beginning, not being prepared for the quarantine, and again every time I had to go out to the market or pharmacy.
Things are looking up now. Some scientists even suggest that the strength of the COVID-19 virus has diminished to the point of no longer being contagious. Yet this feeling of uncertainty remains with me. Is it really safe to go out? Is the ‘next phase’ (or “phase two” as some nations have called it) a real step forward, or could we fall back into the pandemic before we even know it’s happening?
From a community perspective, we are aware that there will be restrictions and specific guidelines on how to deliver an event in the future. But there are still a lot of ‘what ifs’ that are impossible to predict.
Will we have to use facemasks during our events from now on? How many people will be allowed at a meetup? What type of event can we deliver over the next few months? I’m pretty sure that each community has tonnes of questions and concerns.
I keep repeating to myself that we need to stay positive. I’m convinced that communities will rise to the challenge and prove how collaborative and supportive they truly are. I honestly believe communities can set an example for all.
Another concern I’m constantly confronted with is trying to imagine how we, as event organizers, should behave once the restrictions are removed.
I often wonder which venue will be the first to open again, or which office will take the risk of hosting meetups.
Digital is the new gold
Over the last two months, we have discovered that it is super simple to host an online event. Whether you use YouTube, Twitch, Zoom, or any other tool your community chooses, the hardest part is to find a speaker who is available on the dates you have in mind.
I remember that some communities were initially reluctant to accept this new scenario, while others simply refused to organise their activities online. Now, every community Twitter account tweets about a webinar, an online meetup or online conference.
It is evident that we have all accepted the fact that we need to do things online to survive as a community. Even I have increased the usual number of webinars and online activities I have to deliver by this time of the year.
So, we find ourselves in a trend towards ‘everything online’, and it’s interesting to see this evolve, since there are limitations to this way of working that some may have not considered. These limitations have become what we are used to. Will we be willing to go back to normal once the emergency is over? Will people be willing to attend a physical meetup? Why should anyone want to travel overnight to a location, when it’s now possible to attend three meetups per week from the comfort of our own desks? Some may no longer have any interest in a meetup that is not streamed online!
DevRel as a whole has been somewhat affected by the lockdown. Not being particularly outgoing or effusive is acceptable again. Yet, as Community Managers (and members), we have always tried to be welcoming, and to have close contact with many people – after all, our raison d’etre is to be social people. What will the appropriate behaviour be in the future?
If you think I’m taking this too far, just consider how many sociologists you’ve heard, or articles you’ve read, that state how different our cities, offices, schools, parks will be after the pandemic.
It’s been a roller-coaster ride
I am glad I’ve had the chance to share it with you all. I’m sure that you, like me, have been going through lots of ups and downs over the past three months. I know it could have been even tougher without this little diary of mine, and the hope that I could somehow make a contribution, no matter how small and humble.
I truly hope that some of you have found my experience and advice useful and inspiring in overcoming the limitations your communities have had to deal with. Of course, there is a lot more we have lost because of the Coronavirus than just our capability to meet and share our passion.
My thoughts go to the victims and all who have been directly or closely hit by COVID-19, whose lives have changed forever. As I said before, I’d like to believe that how we rebuild now will determine how we will be able to live in the future. I don’t think that we will be better people, but I do hope that by the time the emergency is truly over (perhaps a year from now), we will have learnt to cooperate better, and that our boundaries will have become wider .
With that in mind, I believe communities can be highly inspiring for everyone.
It’s been a roller-coaster ride – and it’s not over yet, but I am glad I shared it with you, because I know for sure that we can code the future. Together.