A lot has changed since the world "COVID" entered my vocabulary six months ago. Since then, my world has gradually imploded as things I took for granted - walks in the park, coffee at Starbucks, yoga class, cozy dinners with friends - became suspect, even dangerous. Back then, many questioned whether the virus was a hoax - whether it was actually lethal, whether we really needed to practice social distancing and wear masks. Then people began to die. Not just the frail and elderly, but the middle-aged, college students, doctors, nurses, children. Jobs, including my own, were lost and the walls of my life closed in, restricting me to two small rooms and the company of my cats.
I share all these experiences to contrast them with my life in Second Life. A long-time resident, I have been a fan of virtual spaces for education, entertainment, and business for almost 13 years. Since COVID morphed into a pandemic, however, it has become a lifeline - a way to combat isolation, socialize, and network with others.
Which brings me to The Hug Felt Round the World. Reading and hearing about the growing number of people feeling lonely, anxious, and frustrated thanks to the isolation imposed by COVID, I got to thinking. Wouldn't it be great to give people a way to come together to enjoy each other's company and share virtual hugs? Several brainstorming sessions with the folks at FOCUS Magazine (the co-creators of the event) and the basic outline for "The Hug Felt Round the World" was born.
The Hug Felt Round the World will be a 24-hour event featuring a large "hug circle" formed by avatars standing with arms linked. In the center of the circle will be a "Tree of Life" displaying names submitted to us by participants. The idea is that each of those names will be embraced and surrounded by love for 24 hours. Below is my first draft of what the event space will look like.