The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everybody in some way. Everybody! The whole world over. And here at WiFi Tribe, it’s definitely affected us and our members. Many people have already felt the devastating consequences of loved ones falling ill because of this virus – and before it is over we will all likely know somebody that has lost someone close to them because of this disease.
When I say it’s been hard on everybody at WiFi Tribe, it’s because so many of us have had the freedom to work from anywhere alongside our best friends, with the ability to explore the world on a daily basis. Human connection is one of the most important things to almost everybody in the Tribe – self-isolation is and has been one of the most trying things for a lot of people in our community. While these difficulties pale in comparison to losing loved ones, they are still impactful on our daily lives that were normal mere weeks earlier. That’s the problem with COVID-19: it affects you whether you get it or not. The degree to which it affects you depends on the degree to which the health of you and your family, and it is my sincerest hope that we all do our part to minimize the amount of people that will lose people they love because others are not properly social distancing or self-isolating. If a community of 800 nomads, with nearly all that value human connection over everything, are able to stay home and stay inside, my hope is that everybody else can also do it.
Being a part of a global, remote-working band of genuinely good people is one of the greatest privileges in the world. And even though I know many of us already understood the value of this freedom and these meaningful personal connections, it really makes you appreciate it even more when it’s taken away. Still, gratefulness has abounded in recognition of how good things were, as well as the opportunities we will likely see return at some point in the future. We’ve seen people sharing information that has helped others, especially nomadic souls, understand the importance of staying home to stop the spread. We’ve also seen people help others try and stay upbeat during these strange and unfamiliar times, comparing how lucky we are to only have to sit on the couch to save lives rather than go off to war to save them.
It’s been a little while now since unprecedented moves have become the new normal. And after rushing to get home or surrendering to our new homes that we find ourselves stuck in, the WiFi Tribe team has had some time to reflect on how this has affected everyday life for us, a company of wandering individuals that crave connection with others more than almost anything in the world. Here is what some of us have to share…
Diego | Co-Founder of the Tribe:
It’s a testing time. Something like this puts everyone’s character to the test. For every person who’s on the ‘front line’ fighting to keep people alive, you’ve got someone who laughs off social distancing and chooses to go out and party regardless.
But it’s also a time that can bring about amazing things. The whole world is going through the same struggle, just weeks apart, and that ties us all together – no population is immune to it, no country is going to be unaffected. It’s a very real reminder that we are all the same, and that’s definitely positive. We’re already seeing nations, health organisations, and individuals lending their support and feeling genuine empathy for people they have never met.
As for the economy, well, there’s always that silver lining. Granted, most industries are taking a hit, with travel and tourism likely to be hit the hardest, but it’s also fuelling an era of entrepreneurial creativity that we’ve never seen before. The WiFi Tribe team has been conceptualising incredible ideas at a crazy pace, and you can already see a flurry of companies pushing out new products and services online.
Let this remind us all what we’re capable of when it really matters, and maybe, we can use that reminder to tap into our creative genius even when things are… normal.
Karol | WiFi Tribe Operations Man & Eternal Optimist:
The past few weeks have been was rather unnerving and stressful, with the situation affecting the business, community, upcoming chapters – and also everybody’s personal life.
The speed at which things have changed has been incredible – decisions had to be reviewed and altered every hour for business and personal decisions. Watching friends and family go through the same or similar experiences was difficult. Thankfully, I felt I could provide some advice to help calm and reassure them.
It has been beautiful, though, seeing camaraderie, support & solidarity which is still continuing.
Now life seems super simple: we’ve been taken back to the basics. I imagine this is what life would have been like in the past – getting up early and having chores that had to be done in order to live. There’s lots of time to be thoughtful and focus on creativity, hobbies, and future business ideas. And once again having a tribe, friends and family has come out as a core pillar in my life.
Alex | WiFi Tribe Finance & Legal Mind:
For sometime it felt like I was going through stages of grief, mourning a time I thought I had permanently lost. From seeing your 401k obliterated to hearing your closest friends losing jobs they had worked so hard to get, I found myself going through denial, anger, acceptance, and a whole myriad of emotions.
As for WiFi Tribe, the thing that caught me the most off guard was how we had to discard our fundamentals of decision making. We had no time to ensure we were making the right decision. We just needed to act swiftly and efficiently, to avoid being paralyzed by fear.
I’m a numbers guy so usually, to counter mass-panic and fear, I tend to seek reassurance by looking at numbers, stats and graphs…the boring stuff. The problem was, there was not a single mathematical indicator suggesting the fear was unreasonable.
It was the first time that I questioned my choice to work remotely. Being stuck in the middle of Thailand if your parents get sick on the other side of the world and there is no way of getting to them is pretty scary.
Kristen | WiFi Tribe Communications Guru:
The past few weeks have truly been a roller coaster. I hosted an intensive spiritual retreat here in Bali just as the chaos began to ensue – holding space for 12 souls on a spiritual journey during the midst of a global pandemic was one of the most intense, challenging, and growth-inducing experiences of my life.
I personally faced so much back-and-forth and emotional turmoil with regards to WHERE to land throughout all of this. I felt a responsibility of sorts to return back to the US, despite not having any sort of real home or community to go back to. I’ve been feeling so much grief on the collective level. I feel this sense of loss right now, on a global level – it feels things will never be the same. We are all facing so much uncertainty, and it can really feel shaking to the core. Yet it’s bringing out a strength and solidarity in us all.
The connection and solidarity through all of this is unbelievable, it brings tears to my eyes to see people coming together, to see nations connecting, supporting one another, sharing experience and guidance and support and love.
I feel a deep, spiritual presence underneath what’s happening right now. We’re all being drawn deeply inward – forced to relinquish our attachments to the material, to the external things that many have prioritized… it’s all being stripped away, to come back to the fundamentals of love, connection, life, health, and presence. We’re feeling a sense of unity like never before. We’re sharing grief. We’re facing our vulnerability. We’re sharing the fear of uncertainty. And we’re building strength together. It’s beautiful and chaotic and fragile and painful and raw. It’s driving us together like nothing ever has. We can choose how to respond, show up, and support one another during these times. Therein lies our power during such massive uncertainty.
Gabriela | Queen of WiFi Tribe Property Sourcing:
How do I feel bout the current circumstances? Conflicted.
On one hand, I am deeply grateful. I really needed to slow down and this has given me no choice but to do so. It has forced me to reach often and consciously to people I love. It has allowed me to exercise, paint, play guitar, eat better, sleep a bit longer. I am working more purposefully and strategically because the urgency of the alarm clock has sort of stopped. So grateful to see communities (including our incredible Tribe) rally to help each other and people putting themselves on the face of danger to protect one another. It has taught me I am a lot more resilient than I thought, especially regarding confinement, which used to be a great source of anxiety to me. It has allowed me to pause and think.
On the other hand I feel guilty. Guilty that I feel relief for having the extra time. Guilty that I am in such a comfortable situation compared to millions who are struggling. Guilty that I can’t do more. Guilty that I have so much and yet still complain about not being able to go outside. Guilty for not being more productive. I know many of these feelings are irrational. I try to manage them each day along with the daily doses of fear and anxiety that comes with reading the news and staying informed.
So, I try to focus on the good. Each day at 8 pm I go to my window, along with everyone in Spain, and we clap. We clap all together to thank all the health workers and people working to make life liveable right now. It’s a thunderous, hopeful clap that fills up the empty streets. People whistle and laugh and yell “Gracias”. I get to see my neighbours, even the ones I had never met. We are now old friends. We greet each other and at the end of the clapping we smile and say “hasta mañana veci” (until tomorrow neighbour!).
I can’t wait for Spring to finally arrive!
Julia | Co-founder of the Tribe:
It’s been an intense month: from cancelling our first chapter, trying to arrange replacements, constant flow of news coming in, finding solutions, fire fighting, but a day later it’s irrelevant what you decided on, because the situation has changed again. You wake up thinking about Covid-19 and you go to bed thinking about Covid-19. Personally, I work well under stressful situations and have a chance to really focus and work even harder, but after weeks, it’s been very emotionally challenging and draining.
At some point I had to step outside, grab my winter jacket and go for a long walk along the river at night, though it was freezing cold. It was so overwhelming of what was happening. It’s not just “us” (the travel industry) that has been affected by it: every small business, café, restaurant, bar….the list is endless and it’s heartbreaking to think of it for the first time. BUT, in the same moment, people in Cologne came outside their balconies clapping for all the humans working in public services, pharmacies and supermarkets. This was an incredibly powerful moment and message I’ll never forget: “You are not here alone, we support each other and will manage to get through this together”
It’s incredible to see what mother nature is capable of. To imagine the earth is so in tune and knows what she needs, like “we need to give these guys a wakeup call and create something that gives the whole world a global pause”. We need the whole world to grind to a hold. We are forced to change our way of living. In my opinion, this is the planet saying “Enough – this needs to stop”, to recalibrate how we live, how we are showing up, how we are treating ourselves, each other and the planet.
We realise what really matters. We are coming back to love, our families, friendships and communities. When shit hits the fan that’s what matters. I don’t think in my entire life I ever felt so connected to every single person on this planet, because we are all going through the same thing. Everyone trying to practise gratitude, care for each other. For years I tried to make relationships a priority and it’s the first time it’s working. Every day I’m making 2-3 phone calls and reaching out to loved ones or friends I haven’t talked to in ages. Since I made the mindful decision of not to panic – to focus on hope, on supporting each other, on love, limit my news consumption to twice a day, and have a structured routine – I became so much calmer. I even sleep well now, which hasn’t happened in the last 5 years, I think. My FOMO is gone (because, we are all at home I guess, but our Tribers know what I’m talking about lol). Life is easy and simple..the only fear of missing out I have is on all the free online content that I can’t consume (skillshares, online courses, free memberships, gym classes, audiobooks etc). But apart from that I’m well. Sometimes worried, but well. My excitement for the future is still there and I’m curious to see how the remote work is going to evolve.
A different kind of thought..imagine we would have been in this situation 20 years ago. Without WiFi. Without the chance to connect with everyone via an easy text message or video call. Without access to updated and accurate information any time of the day. Would we still feel so connected to everyone? We can’t know for sure, but what I do know is that I’m grateful for the Internet. The chance that a lot of people can isolate and work from home or still have the chance to stay in touch with your grandparents for example. In my opinion a blessing.
Jordan | WiFi Tribe In-House Writer:
As for me, I went through a lot of thoughts, a lot of pulling in different directions. When I first realized that this was going to be a global problem, I still didn’t grasp the significance. I saw friends that were still travelling and not letting the virus “scare” them – which definitely tugged at my FOMO and muddled my clarity of the situation. I was looking at where to go with lower infection rates, thinking I had time to still explore. I was in South Africa and had planned on going trekking with gorillas in Uganda, something I didn’t think I’d ever get to do. Well, for now, at least, it’s still something I won’t be able to do because borders started closing, lockdowns started being put in place, and I was really left with only two choices: wait it out in Cape Town or try to get back to Canada. I chose to try and return because none of us can even make an educated guess on how long this will go on for. 2 months? 5 months? Nobody knows, and that’s part of what makes this so difficult.
I learned a little while back that a lot of anxiety is caused by not knowing what will come next. Even if you’re not looking forward to something, or you know something isn’t going to have the outcome you want, just knowing and having some certainty changes the feeling. Imposing order on chaos feels good. And right now there is only chaos. Even with the hysteria down, with most people understanding that this isn’t just a “bad flu,” not knowing when this will end or what will happen next is hard on everybody. It’s even harder if you can’t be near family – and even if you can, social distancing requires you to stay far enough apart that visiting feels strange. I wanted to see my grandmother when I came home, but I can’t go into her home – if I unwittingly brought this virus into a building with dozens of senior citizens it would be disastrous. So, I settled for having a conversation with her from across the street, her out on her balcony and me on the sidewalk on the other side of the parking lot of her place.
But all of this helps give us perspective, I think. I’m grateful that my grandmother is in good health. I’m grateful I could make it home and wait with uncertainty in a familiar city. I’m grateful that I don’t have to go to war and fight other people, I only have to fight against this virus, which I can do by staying home. Yes, it’s hard not seeing other people. It’s hard not going to the gym. But it’s a lot easier and more welcome than shipping off to fight against another country, one that I would probably want to visit and explore – and hang out with the locals rather than engage them in combat.
These are strange times, they’re unprecedented times. But they are temporary. And staying home will not have a lingering effect, besides maybe a few extra Netflix pounds that the home workouts couldn’t stave off. I’ll take that over PTSD any day. And I’ll take staying inside to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 over people losing lives, people that would have otherwise had more time to explore our beautiful world.
If I had to sum up how I feel about this whole thing in three words it would be: antsy, grateful, hopeful. I’m sad for all the people that would otherwise still be with us if this new virus had not emerged, but I know we are capable of helping so many others who would’ve been lost as well. We’ve come a long way since the plague, or even smallpox. A virus with an R0 of 3 and a 1-4% mortality rate would wipe out millions of people if not mitigated. Even with all the misinformation and seemingly clueless leaders, I am in awe of how we band together in times like this and make the world a better place.
Sometimes I am proud of humanity.