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Being Alone But Not Lonely in the Time of Social Distancing
by Adrienne Reed
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April 26, 2020

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7 Minute Read

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Being Alone But Not Lonely in the Time of Social Distancing

Courtesy of Breanna Jones
Brunch 2 Bomb event prior to social distancing. Photo courtesy of Breanna Jones

Before COVID-19, the fastest growing fear in the millennial generation, ahead of job loss and homelessness, was loneliness. Something I’ve experienced first hand. Even with a large tribe, I often found myself feeling alone and struggling to communicate my need for engagement in less obvious moments. With love languages like quality time and touch, along with an inherited sense of pride — the ability to cry out for community was often drowned in concern with the assumed perception of the cry.

It’s part of the reason why I leveraged an annual celebration to build a consistent sense of community. I learned through one simple birthday party, though I sometimes feel alone, I am not alone in feeling that feeling.Three years ago, a birthday party I didn’t want to have proved itself as the community I didn’t want to admit I needed. What is now Brunch 2 Bomb, was born from my desire to have the opportunity to be around a large group of dope people without a momentous occasion. 

Many millennials have turned to the laborious task of hosting gatherings at our homes that meet our needs. But who wants to clean up after that? I just wanted to hear music that gives me joy and makes me move without my home, reflecting a war zone to follow. Little did I know many felt the exact same. 

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I thought it was just me that hated the disconnected, superficial vibe of the Hollywood club scene, but it wasn’t. There were droves of people, who over nearly three years have come to exceed a growing community of 26,000, who not only felt the same way but were also in search of the same connection. A family reunion without the airfare, a celebration of Black culture sans side-eye, a place to get free without experiencing career suicide — all these facets were missing for several people, and our homegrown community was able to connect those dots. When we founded Brunch 2 Bomb, my co-founder and best friend, DJ Benjamin Walker, and I never thought it would flourish into what it has. 

Similarly, just as many of us never thought we would be in the state that we are in now as a global community. With the need for social distancing to keep each other alive, we proactively canceled our recent event after holding out hope as long as we reasonably could. The uncertainty of the varying impacts of COVID-19 were and still are frustrating. The pandemic has been life altering in a multitude of ways. Yet, in the midst of it all, while my business partner and I watched each of our respective businesses take tremendous hits, we found that it was the lack of community that hurt the most. 

Courtesy of Breanna Jones
Brunch 2 Bomb event prior to social distancing. Photo courtesy of Breanna Jones

Not being around our friends, family, and our community at large was the hardest. That’s when we realized. It’s not just us. People are violating the social distancing and gathering directives because of the critical need to combat loneliness, to have a sense of community. From there, we knew we had to find a way to bring the community alive while effectively keeping each other safe via social distancing. 

Loneliness is not just the feeling of being alone. It’s the uncertainty of not knowing when you will no longer be alone.

We noticed many event platforms taking to Instagram Live as an outlet. It was inspiring to see other creatives thinking outside the box. While we all have our different reasons for doing so, when you see a hero to the DJ community such as D-Nice partying with Michelle Obama and being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, you know you’re onto something special. However, for Brunch 2 Bomb, star power and big names have never been our je ne sais quoi; our success has always been driven by the community and the hospitality we offer them. This is when we turned to the virtual hangout as a platform, and Zoom stepped up with its 1,000 person meeting plan as an affordable option. 

We secured and tested the platform for days, perfecting as many elements as we could, then opened up RSVPs to our community, hoping the concept would resonate. Thankfully, it did. In slightly less than 24 hours, we secured 1,000 RSVPs from our community for Brunch 2 Bomb’s Virtual House Party 2 Pajama Jam edition. We encouraged attendees through our traditional “blassic” (Black Classic) film homage marketing to wear their pajamas, cook their favorite brunch dishes, or order from a local small minority business for our first virtual brunch. 

Courtesy of @brittfusilier/Instagram
Courtesy of @brittfusilier/Instagram

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Between the RSVPs, waitlist, friends and family, and our Instagram following more than 1,000 people joined us on Zoom over the three and a half-hour time frame and more than 700 tune-ins on IGTV. The response was mind-blowing. We never knew the same sense of community we started with to combat one single millennials loneliness would be the same thing that I and so many others needed once again. 

Loneliness is not just the feeling of being alone. It’s the uncertainty of not knowing when you will no longer be alone. Uncertainty and loneliness go hand in hand. We are currently uncertain of when things will change and when we will be with our loved ones again. In times like these, we often say family is what you need, but for some of us, family is bigger than bloodline and hometowns. It’s the communities that hear our cry, even when we can’t make a sound.

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