Thursday, September 14, 2023

More Meet and Greet

I envy those people who can walk into a room and suddenly know everyone there. I have never been one of those people but instead a shrinking violet. Mingling and small talk have always been a challenge. You might think that the new world of virtual interaction would appeal to me as much as it does to the young of the twenty-first century (I do use my phone as much as they use theirs). But, I view virtual as a good fallback, not a primary option. It is better than nothing, but lots of things are.

That does not make fallbacks our choice (think unsweet tea, still tea but just not the same). Go up north sometime and try ordering unsweet. They look at you like you are nuts (they only have unsweet, to them that is "tea" and they cannot fathom your confusion).

There are lots of opportunities in this world for interaction, but too many of them lately are virtual. There is an analogy to human relations. In his famous comic strip, Watterson portrays a conversation of adults surrounding Calvin and Hobbes. For the uninitiated, Hobbes is a stuffed tiger unto which Calvin projects personality and humor. One of the adults questions “Didn’t you ever have an imaginary friend?“ The other adult assures “Sometimes I think all my friends have been imaginary." Ouch.

That is reminiscent of the sentiments people have expressed about Facebook, something to the point of "if you have 150,000 Facebook friends, that is the equivalent of no friends."

Let's get back together!

Let's get in the same room (or hallway as we did at the WCI in August). The Workers' Compensation Section of The Florida Bar is pushing us to get back in person. This is good for us. This is even better for the young lawyers who are not reminiscing about the old days of social interaction. We need to meet them, mentor them, and pass this community on to them.

In-person is different. There is an efficiency, and efficacy, that comes from being in the same room. People who may be too shy to jump in in a virtual setting, reticent, because of the absence of social cues, may very well be willing to jump in when in person. They may be willing to linger, able to catch your eye, give a slight head of the nod, or other subtlety; they might initiate a conversation that they simply are not comfortable with in the virtual world.

No offense, I just rarely gain traction or knowledge from meetings generally. That said, despite my fail shyness, fatal, I do enjoy a good conversation. I really enjoy a good conversation about something I understand (a very short menu), but enjoy conversations about a vast array of topics. I enjoy human interaction. Frankly, the one thing about my job that I actually love is the opportunity to listen to people tell me their perceptions, constraints, challenges, solutions, and suggestions.

This is been a long-winded path to a simple truth. The chairs of the Worker’s Compensation section of the Florida bar made it a mission over the last 10 months to encourage this community to come together in a more interpersonal manner. It started with a roundtable luncheon in Orlando in December 2022 and proceeded to similar events in Jacksonville, Fort Myers, and Tampa. All the while, we admitted that the great east coast was being temporarily and generally deferred. That is over!

On October 4, 2023, at 3:00 p.m., Mr. Longo, myself, various judges, and others will be present at the Fort Lauderdale district office for a meet and greet. This will be an opportunity to share company, ask questions, collect information, and celebrate community.

On October 26, 2023, at 3:00 p.m. we will be at the Tallahassee district office doing the same thing.

I am so glad to see us getting into these other communities. Let's talk, let's commiserate, let's hear from you! There is no cost, no speeches, no homework. Come and gather with us and tune up your workers' compensation community connections. I will be the shy guy in the corner without a nametag.