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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: Coming Together, Apart

Tommy Tomlinson

There are many of you who are doing your best to be productive during these Virus Days. You are learning Spanish or organizing your file cabinets or cleaning the top of the refrigerator. God bless every one of you.

But also direct a blessing to the people who are helping us burn time and be happy.

One of the small heroes of the past week was a guy named D-Nice. He had a brief rap career in the '90s and has spent his time since then as a producer, a photographer, and most important for this story, a DJ. Last Tuesday, he started hosting a virtual dance party called Club Quarantine on Instagram Live. You just had to show up at the right time and groove.

The first night, just 200 people tuned in. But with every passing night, the crowd multiplied. And by the weekend, at its peak, D-Nice was DJing for 150,000 people – including Rihanna, Steph Curry and Michelle Obama. As the writer Jelani Cobb said, “The CDC should put D-Nice on the payroll.”

Sometimes, before the Virus Days came, the Internet seemed like one of those many good ideas that curdled in angry hands. But over the last week, if you look in the right places, it has turned into a source of joy – and more importantly, a source of connection in our separated world.

Tuesday afternoon, as I clicked around, Adah Fitzgerald from Main Street Books in Davidson was reading us a story. Brandy Clark, the country singer who co-wrote that great Kacey Musgraves song “Follow Your Arrow,” was doing a live set from what looked like her bedroom. The comedian Mike Birbiglia had posted video of him trying out new material with John Mulaney.

And then there are the legions of regular creative people posting the usual goofball stuff that makes you laugh despite yourself. Over the weekend Alix and I cracked up at a cat who flew off an ironing board, and a couple who made themselves into a horse for the song “A Horse With No Name.”

This is a serious moment in our history. People are getting sick and dying, and we have basically put our entire country in park until we can get a better grip on what’s going on. It’s a tough time for all of us and disastrous for some.

But sometimes you have to laugh to breathe again. You don’t have to read the news all day. Take time to entertain yourself. Dance like nobody’s watching. Or dance like everybody’s watching! Just make sure to turn on the webcam first.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.