There is a reason people of all ages hold hands, sometimes when they walk, sometimes when they are sitting together. There is a reason little kids run up to friends and family and jump on them. There is a reason we shake hands when we meet. There is a reason why we like to meet face to face.
Humans are built to work together, to talk in person, to hug and kiss, to shake hands. Yes, we are built to touch one another.
Our betters in Silicon Valley may tell us different, but they are wrong. You cannot see a smile in an email. You can’t read someone’s body language over Zoom. It’s impossible to express true love or hate over the phone. There is a reason why we go to live theater. The actor’s craft is laid bare in person.
The play Amadeus begins with a very old man, Salieri, telling us his confession, his hatred of Mozart, from his wheelchair. He is old, dying, and can barely speak. Then suddenly, the actor turns around, removes his cloak and wig, and changes into a handsome, 30-year-old man. In one second. Everyone in the audience had chills down their spines. In the movies, that change might have taken two days and 10 makeup artists to create. And we know it. It is moments like this that makes live performances different.
When you see someone in person, its reality. When you talk on the phone, or Zoom, its simply not the same. Humans are designed to be pack animals. We live in neighborhoods, go to schools, play at the beach or park, join clubs, work in buildings where we can see and talk to one another. We sing in choruses; we worship in churches, large and small, we go to clubs and laugh and tell stories to one another. We even look askance at that old man or woman who never comes out of their house.
I feel sad that I couldn’t see my friends and colleagues at PIE. It was compounded with the ‘digitization’ of the IPMI event. We will go nearly a year from the last time we, as an industry, have had the opportunity to be together, assuming and praying, the NPA show will be held in September in New Orleans.
There is no substitute for the personal touch. We talk, one on one. We go to seminars and feed off the input of others in the audience, we laugh at jokes told at parties and yes, make fun of those who might imbibe a tad too much. Who will forget the time I had to send a couple of vendors to the parking lot because they were beginning to ‘duke it out’ in a seminar? Was there a dry eye in the house when 100 year old Larry Donoghue told his life story? What about when Kevin Uhlenhaker’s PowerPoint went out and he went on to give one of the best presentations ever.
At live events we get to meet husbands, wives, boy and girl friends, and sometimes kids, too. We try for days to meet a certain CEO and then sit next to them on the plane going home. Someone once said more deals are made in the hotel lobby than in the exhibit hall. And just why is that.
Oh, do I look forward to seeing you all at the next big meeting. Yes, to talk, and laugh, and touch. I think most of the pain we have been feeling during the past few weeks is the isolation. The lack of seeing people in the flesh.
Touch you, and hug you, and shake hands with you soon.