Bored and lonely? Virtual meetings will have you feeling fresh

By Jesse Robitaille

This June, for the first time since January, I was able to mingle with dozens of collectors in the same “room.”

Of course, it was a virtual room – as of June 12, Ontario is still limiting gatherings to 10 people – but nevertheless, it feels great. Despite technology’s limitations, after three months in semi-isolation, you can really feel the energy of a room (even if it’s made entirely of ones and zeroes).

Little did I know at the time, but my last physical show was the 71st annual Cathex in St. Catharines, Ont., on Jan. 25.

Fast forward six and a half weeks, and the world is in the middle of an unprecedented shutdown. Along with shuttered businesses, grounded flights and cancelled social gatherings, the pandemic also brought an end to stamp shows—at least for the time being.

While we’re not out of the woods yet, some show organizers are hopeful for a return to the bourse in late fall or winter; however, who knows what the “second wave” has in store? We’ll all have to wait and see.

In the meantime, many philatelic organizations have pivoted to online meetings, seminars, auctions and even shows.

Across the pond in the United Kingdom, the Philatelic Traders’ Society – akin to the Canadian Stamp Dealers Association here in Canada – recently launched the world’s first “virtual international stamp show.” Accessible through an Internet browser (no downloads required), the virtual Stampex show is billed as a chance to “buy, sell, learn, explore, network, showcase – all from the comfort of your own home.”

Organizers are now selling more than 100 virtual booths for the Oct. 1-3 event. You can read more about it at bit.ly/3cWJmuH.

UPCOMING VIRTUAL EVENTS

MEETING WITH FRIENDS

Here in Canada, the NTSC hosted its first virtual seminar via Zoom on June 11.

More than 40 people, myself included, attended the presentation led by award-winning exhibitor Jean Wang. For about an hour and a half, we were able to connect with one another in a fashion that closely mirrors a real stamp show. Each attendee could choose to share their video and audio feeds while watching Wang go through her PowerPoint presentation, which highlighted the plethora of pandemic-themed stamps, postal markings and other philatelic material issued since mid-March. After the seminar – just like at a real meeting – there was a question-and-answer period. While people seemed a bit shy at first, once someone bit the bullet and asked the first question, many more followed, and the discussion quickly flourished.

If you’ve had a video chat with friends or family during the pandemic, you know how refreshed you feel after making that connection—even if it’s through a screen. I highly recommend all collectors give one of these virtual presentations a go as soon as they can. Many of these events are open to non-members; all you have to do is request an invitation from the organizers.

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