I spent the last two-and-a-bit days, doing something I haven’t done for a long time: meeting people in meatspace. Catching up over a juice in a coffee shop, or stopping by someone’s office for a chat, rather than just meeting them via jitsi, or some other video conferencing tool.
Don’t get me wrong, I like - probably, prefer - meeting people online, and I expect to carry on doing that, but this was important to me.
I am not great when it comes to meeting new people outside specific work-related stuff, and I am aware of that, so this was, in a way, a bit of practice for me in that regard. And it was fine. I need to put myself in the right mindset, and this reminded me that I can do that.
Putting out the “I’m in London; anyone fancy a coffee?” call to arms on Twitter, mastodon etc. worked well, so I will probably do that again. Yes, I know I am lucky to be able to do that with a relative degree of safety.
I had a fair few of these meetings, wedged in around the actual work reasons I was in London, and about half were people I’ve met/spoken with online before, and the others were people I’ve had either no, or very limited, interaction with before.
It was enjoyable, and exercising my “being sociable” muscles felt good. It is a skill I need to continue to practise.
The things I didn’t like are the things I’ve never liked: crowded, noisy places, with tables which are too close together. I appreciate times have been tough for cafes and the like, but there are definitely a couple of places I will actively avoid in the future, based on the experiences of the last week. (Lack of people wearing masks in public places is another bug bear of mine. So easy and harmless for most people, and yet so readily abandoned despite an ongoing pandemic.)
I expect I will be back in London more regularly now, so I look forward to continuing to give this a go. Nipping around on my bike made a difference too, as it means I can avoid the underground while still travelling around central London quite easily.
That said, I am still very happy to meet new people online, so if we have some areas of mutual interest, please do feel free to drop me a line!