Pub note pic Aug 2020

Karl Teel

Virtual events and virtual tourism. It’s been the rage during COVID-19 quarantine. With no guarantee of how this chapter of inconvenience and health concerns unrolls in the future, hedging bets can be a challenge. Let’s not cancel the festival, let’s make it virtual. Well, that does have a little bit of “half a loaf is better than none” ring to it. It’s a way to salvage something positive from all the preparation and desire to not skip a season. Plus, in the competitive menu of how to spend your time, you really aren’t at a disadvantage since everyone else is doing the same thing. It’s a level playing field.

And it’s not just events, it’s tourism too. Stuck at home? Check out the Great Wall of China, or the pyramids or the Grand Canyon. Heck, there’s no expense to worry about, so why not go exotic, especially in this day and age of the big screen hi-def TV.

Many of us remember The Matrix, a movie where reality and virtual reality become somewhat intertwined. What’s the difference between actually experiencing something versus the exact same stimuli, but coming from a source other than experience? Well, Hollywood really worked their magic to illustrate how these stimuli can mimic reality. But it’s not the same. Virtual experiences do not contain certain nuances you can’t quite put into words. But that doesn’t mean it’s without value.

Virtual reality or virtual experiences can serve as an introduction, filtering device, planning exercise or sales pitch. After all, nobody begins their vacation on the first, and flies to somewhere on the second without any plans. Virtual experiences can plant seeds that may otherwise not be on your “A” list. They can take a loosely planned trip and add components that may not have otherwise made it onto the list creating a fuller, more robust and more optimal trip. Virtual experiences can add to much of the visual, and a little audible experience, but can never substitute for the live experience. It’s like love, reading about it in no way can be a substitute for living it.

Recently, we were in Maine, and not for the first time. We knew what to expect visually. We knew the sounds of songbirds in the morning and loons in the evening. We knew the taste of fresh lobster. All of these can be experienced in many ways. But the most compelling sensations were the sense of clean and pure: clean air, starry nights, pine scents, open nature in abundance. There was a sense of peace and tranquility. It was a total escape from the hustle and bustle of our day to day lives. A one week soul-refreshing recharge is hard to replicate. But all means, make use of virtual experiences to plan ahead. And then live it. We can help!

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