I can’t tell anyone the right answer to the question of “is it safe to go to a convention this year?” I don’t know. For me, the answer is no. I have a toddler who is ineligible to even GET vaccinated and there is no way in hell I would put myself into such a potential Covid hotspot because of that. Even though the current information is still that kids are not generally as sick as adults – I’m not willing to risk my kid’s life.
Even if it was just myself and my husband (and our extended families) I have trouble with it. I will admit that the Delta variant has me scared. And it isn’t just that it is apparently far more contagious – my fear is with the high transmission it will soon mutate again and epsilon or whatever is next not only is as contagious as Delta but more deadly. Or not only as contagious but now increasing the lethality in children. Or not ONLY contagious, but also making the current vaccine so much less effective as to be worthless.
Sometimes having an active imagination (and having played Plague, Inc.) has downsides.
I love DragonCon. I haven’t gone in about 5 years because of time, cost, and a strong dislike of the claustrophobic crowd levels. I love going to the parade, I would love to get one of the hotels and get a legacy room going where I go every year with great access. When I graduated from college a life-time membership was $1,000 – and I actually had the money. I decided to put the extra $1k on my new car…. in retrospect I seriously wish I had gotten that lifetime membership.
Despite the struggles I have with the size of the con (oh lord it is so very many people) in summer in Atlanta… I love it. I love the refresh of seeing the passion and the energy of nerds. I love going to the writing panels and meeting with other writers. I did the writing workshop one year and I would love to do it again. But it costs extra above and beyond even the DragonCon pass and that makes it hard to justify.
I don’t blame anyone who feels desperate for socialization. I am an introvert and I’ve been feeling the itch for human companionship. My current job is a very solitary existence (a manager I once knew described this kind of job as a “slide the sandwich under the door” job – because that’s the kind of human contact you get). I miss going to the office only because I miss seeing people. Chatting about their lives and their days. And I’m an introvert.
So there is no judgement for the people who decide the risks of covid (especially when vaccinated and masked) are worth trying to recover from 18 months of nigh-isolation. I won’t lie, it sounds pretty tempting to me despite my fears. Then I remember how exhausting the crowds are and on top of my concerns – well isolation wins.
I also can’t bring myself to blame the convention leadership for the decision they’ve made. DragonCon makes money. There are people who depend on that income for their livelihoods. And without more PPP style loans, they may have HAD to make the choice of “run the convention in 2021 or never run again.” Contracts with hotels, vendors, and keeping the volunteers who make DragonCon possible… all of this was suspended in 2020. Those hotels lost more money last year than I am sure I can even imagine.
And from what I heard, 2020’s “virtual convention” just wasn’t the same. Shocker. Could they have spent the last 11 months trying to improve the digital experience? Sure. But in January they probably scrapped any plans they had because we have a damn vaccine (several). So seven months later having a *#&%ing surge in cases… I can’t be mad at the con’s leadership. Unlike some of the gaming (specifically video game) conventions I know of, DragonCon has so much programming which would be difficult (at best) to replicate digitally.
As I told a friend “It feels like an almost impossible decision to know what is “right” – we just don’t KNOW enough. And the unknowns can be pretty significant.”
Be safe my friends. Both mentally and physically. Be safe and healthy.