Summary: All the things that make a great social event like large groups, diverse groups of people, and close connections also create a great environment to spread coronavirus. After the pandemic is over, it’s worth using the coronavirus prevention guidelines, and going against them, to find great events.
What makes a great social event? Lots of people from all over the world are sharing their ideas and meeting new people. Some people are new, drawn there because they’d heard this is the place to be. Others are old friends, hugging and kissing each other hello. Everyone is interacting intensely, going out for drinks and dinner. Maybe they even share some appetizers or try each other’s drinks.
If you’re been paying attention to the news this week, these are also the things that spread coronavirus: lots of people, close contact, diversity, and sharing. This makes sense because viruses piggyback on the social nature of humans. When we get together and interact in a community, viruses are shared as well.
I was at synagogue today during the Shabbat(1)Shabbat is the Jewish Sabbath service for a Bat Mitzvah(2)Bat Mitzvah is a Jewish girl’s coming of age ceremony. The Rabbi talked about the things we would not be doing today. There would be no kissing or hugging your friends. The communal prayers that are said with linked arms would be said alone. And the Torah(3)The Torah is the Jewish sacred scroll would not be paraded around the room for everyone to touch. In short, the social aspect of the day, normally used to build closeness and community, would be drastically cut by the coronavirus.
Communities are also essential for sharing ideas and creating new things. I remember visiting the MIT Media Lab in 2010 when it moved into its new building. The architects explained how the building was designed to make sure that people from different departments would randomly bump into each other as often as possible. It was designed with openness and energy that brings people together. Clearly, the building was an essential part of the lab. At the end of the day, there was a Question and Answer session.
A woman from IBM said, “I work at a company with hundreds of thousands of people and half of them work from home. Did you ever think about creating this building as a virtual experience.”
The people on stage we befuddled and didn’t have a good answer. Finally, they just said, “No.”
So this month, pay attention to the things you’re not supposed to do. These are the things that define great events. Going against the coronavirus recommendations is one way you can search for great events, collaborate, and come up with new ideas once the pandemic is over. Of course, this won’t work for everything. Touching your face, picking your nose, or coughing on a co-worker still won’t help you create that next great startup idea.