This time a year ago, you had probably never been invited to a virtual happy hour. You may not have even had a Zoom account.
But that was before real life moved online.
“The amazing thing is that people are social creatures, and they, you know, we really kind of quickly found new ways to stay connected and to socialize,” explained James Hirschfeld, co-founder of online invitation platform Paperless Post.
For many of us, the office conference room, the elementary school classroom, and even the barstool have moved to the internet -- where we find ourselves in the Brady Bunch box that is the Zoom grid.
Hirschfeld says invites plummeted last March, as parties stopped. But then, they climbed in May, as virtual hangouts began.
“In the beginning, it was a lot of cocktail parties and people just like wanting to drink and commiserate together,” he said.
As the pandemic dragged on, milestones like weddings and baby showers moved to Zoom, he says. And they’ve stayed there, along with other events that really cannot be put off for too long.
“A lot of virtual bar and bat mitzvahs because, again, you have to do it when you're 13, life doesn't wait,” he said.
Video conferences offered lap-top-sized windows into our homes, and our lives. There were public school art classes featuring reptiles, television broadcasts interrupted by dogs, and court cases argued by cats — or lawyers using cat filters.
What felt temporary at the start became more permanent. We began obsessing about our Zoom look.
“A lot of people are purchasing Ring lights, just make sure that they, you know, look like they're alive on your computer screen,” said Shelly Lynch-Sparks, founder of Hyphen & Co. Interior Design.
Once you’ve got some good light in front of you, it’s key to get a nice backdrop behind you - with just the right book titles.
“Pattern and texture, an accent wall behind you, a styled bookshelf, plants definitely bring a space to life,” she said.
And if you’re only dressed up from the waist up, and life is in disarray just out of frame, as captured in a December New Yorker cover, who really needs to know?