In the early days of the pandemic, I was spending a lot of time at home, looking for something to do. Soon I started getting invitations to free or inexpensive Webinars. I signed up for many of them, eager to stay productive. Little did I know that attending countless informative Webinars would leave me penniless, drowning in knowledge, and ashamed.
I remember my first Webinar like it was yesterday. It was a workshop related to my job as a beanbag-chair tester at Worldwide Beanbag Company called “Finding Your Soft Place: Beanbag-Chair Fundamentals.” I could learn new skills and stay connected with people, all from the safety and comfort of my extra-large beanbag chair at home! As the PowerPoint progressed, I took in charts, graphs, and photos. The presenter even e-mailed a handout afterward. I was hooked.
As Webinar invitations continued to stream into my in-box, I signed up for another, and another, and another. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to learn something new that might change my life. And, according to every invitation, I needed to reserve my spot immediately because it was my “LAST CHANCE.” I attended Webinars on hard-cheese varietals, making dolls, and weight lifting, even though I spend most of my time sitting down, on a beanbag.
Whenever I couldn’t participate in a Webinar, I was devastated. Imagine the joy I felt when I learned that most Webinars are recorded, so that you can watch them any time. My professional development in the beanbag-chair industry suddenly had no limit. I could also endlessly pursue my personal passions for cheese, dolls, and heavy weights.
Or so I thought.
Soon, Webinar FOMO took over my life. Because I spent all day watching Webinars, I was scrambling to keep up with my regular job, and found myself testing beanbag chairs late into the night. My testing abilities suffered and I was exhausted—something had to give. With some trepidation, I decided to quit my beanbag-testing job and devote myself to Webinars full time, living my Webinar dream.
With my newfound freedom, I registered for Webinar after Webinar. A three-part series on making cheese dips? “Yum!” I said, and signed up right away.
Eager to learn even more, I used my life savings from beanbag testing to hire people to watch Webinars for me. These colleagues entered notes into a spreadsheet that I pored over each morning. I regretted not being able to see certain workshops, such as “Living in a Cheese Cave: Problems and Possibilities,” but at least I was getting exposed to the concepts. My team and I watched Webinars around the clock, scribbling notes and inputting them into the spreadsheet. So many Webinars, too little time.
“Learning, growing, lifelong learning never ceases—always be growing,” we panted, our fingers dancing across our keyboards.
Then my Webinar house of cards came crashing down. My eyes grew strained. I hadn’t mopped my kitchen in months, and Webinar registration fees and payroll were draining my bank account. I maxed out credit cards to buy a cheese-making lab coat and a year’s worth of cheese-making supplies—and used them only once. Worse, the information from all the Webinars was becoming a jumble. Had I been instructed in how to do a bench-press pullup in cheddar curds? It didn’t seem right, but I couldn’t say for sure.
Eventually, the money ran out. So, with regret, I laid off my team and viewed my final Webinar, “Doll Cheese: Strength Training.” Or maybe it was “Strength Training: Dolls.” I don’t know. Since then, I’ve been trying to get my old beanbag job back and to emerge from the Webinar mess that I created.
When I signed up for that very first Webinar, I didn’t know that I was embarking on a journey that would upend my life. Instead of taking constant classes, maybe I should have spent my time eating mature Gouda, thinking about weight lifting, and doing the best I could with the beanbag-evaluation skills I already had.
Don’t make the mistake I made—unless, I don’t know, you get an invitation to a Webinar that looks super interesting, and, if so, maybe you should sign up for it, just in case?