The writing group I belong to used to meet weekly. That was before COVID. Then, for a while, we didn’t meet at all. Eventually, we started getting together via Zoom, although we didn’t meet every week. Like many people and organizations, we discovered there were pros and cons to Zoom meetings. They were better than not being able to meet at all, and allowed long-distance members to take part. But technical glitches were frustrating and annoying.

When it was okay to start meeting in person again, everyone was grateful and relieved. Still, we didn’t want to lose the connections we made with long-distance members who couldn’t attend in person. That’s when the word “hybrid” took on a new meaning.

I used to think of hybrids in terms of flowers, plants, and animals—like hybrid roses, disease-resistant vegetables, and mules. Then hybrid cars came along. And after COVID restrictions were lifted, hybrid meetings became a thing.

We quickly discovered there were different ways to run hybrid meetings. My writing group, for instance, holds two meetings a month at our regular meeting place, and one via Zoom. That way, we can enjoy a more close-knit, intimate environment when we meet in person, but can still connect with our long-distance members once a month.

Our Toastmasters hybrid meetings are done differently, with some people meeting in person while others attend via Zoom. There are technical and logistical challenges to this, but it allows everyone to be at every meeting, either in person or online.

I can now think of a number of things I’d like to see as hybrids, combining the best attributes of two different—but compatible—elements. Healthy food and tasty food, for instance. Stylish shoes and comfortable ones. Democrats and Republicans.

I don’t want to get too carried away with the benefits of hybrids, however. I’ve watched and read enough science fiction to know that things don’t always turn out as planned. Solving one problem sometimes creates another. Trying to combine the best of two items might bring out the worst of them instead. The mantra, “Be careful what you wish for,” warns of ominous possibilities.

I appreciate that hybrids exist in the world of roses, mules, and meetings. But I also accept that in life, I’ll regularly have to choose between foods that are healthy, and those that are tasty, although there are some options that fulfill both. Same with style and/or comfort in shoes and clothing.

As for Democrats and Republicans, especially those in Congress, I’d like to see them follow the example one of my resources used to describe hybrid cars: “Sometimes the electric motor does all the work, sometimes it’s the gas engine. And sometimes they work together.”

January 16, 2023
©Betty Liedtke, 2023

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