How To Maintain Social Connection Despite Social Distancing

With the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus, governments around the world have asked people to self isolate. The piece will look at ways to stay connected.

As a result of the novel Coronavirus, the buzzwords of 2020 have certainly become “social distancing”, “self-isolation” and “lockdown”. Yet human beings are inherently social beings who have always lived in close proximity to others of their “tribe”; in modern times, these tribe members include close family, friends, colleagues – and most especially those who share our lifestyle choices, interests and passions. Some would argue that we stay in touch with our family because we care about them; but we also need social interactions with those who inspire us and make choices in their lives that truly resonate with us.

FEEL THE RUSH

Keen to place a wager on your favorite sports app, or live-stream the related event onto your biggest home screen, and then also to share the experience of a professional or collegiate match with a mate or three via WhatsApp? Simply start a WhatsApp video or voice call, and then add up to three other people from your contact list.

There are tons of platforms available for download on iOS devices. Turn the sound up to hear everyone cheer, sip their drink, moan, crunch their popcorn, groan and shout hooray! You’ll feel like you’re in an actual stadium – endorphin rush of note!

GET THIS PARTY STARTED

Keen to take the party vibe a little further than can be achieved via an ordinary WhatsApp video or voice call? An excellent option for you and up to seven friends (a group of eight) is an app called Houseparty, where sign-up is free but you pay extra for additional games.

Rated four out of five by The Guardian in a recent article, Houseparty can be used to celebrate a birthday (which would otherwise suck if you were alone at home) or to have a quiz night (no need to supply the drinks and snacks, except for you and your own in-mates!). Once everyone has signed up, found the host (under whatever code name) and joined the “party”, your crowd can chat, dance and do whatever they would at a normal party (is there such a thing?) – or play a range of games from Heads Up to Trivia, Quick Draw or Chips and Guac.

The pros at Houseparty do suggest putting the kids to bed first (some of the cards cannot be unseen), plus alcoholic brands and millennial terms come into its games quite a bit. You’ll feel like you’ve lost several decades and are in a college time warp.

JUST BREATHE

There may be a member of your household who is taking things a little bit harder than all the others. Can’t see his or her partner; has been retrenched; or is an athlete who is used to hitting their reset button with a training session that can’t be accomplished in the house.

As a family or commune, you can attempt a meditation session together in support of this person’s symptoms of anxiety, depression or stress; and, the good news is that you’ll all be guaranteed to sleep better and feel more relaxed once these sessions become a part of your daily routine.

Former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe’s Headspace, with its cute illustrations and guided meditations, really is like having a mental gym workout in your own home. The team behind this app believes the brain is a muscle that goes neglected and that we would all be in a better state of mental wellbeing if we gave our minds a bit more airtime. Andy and his app will sort out your shallow breathing, insomnia, and any other mental hijinks at just US$13 per month.

TRIBE HAS SPOKEN

Stumped as to how to communicate with a bigger group, such as your neighborhood watch or everyone living in your apartment block? We all have understandable concerns about our immediate suburb during this lockdown period: Will we get mugged walking to the store? Which one has the shortest queue? Is that memory-challenged old lady still wandering around and what if she gets arrested? Is there a roadblock on this or that route?

Not just appropriate for business settings, Zoom permits up to 100 people to sign in to a meeting; although a fee of US$19.99 per host per month must be paid. Regular users claim there to be fewer connectivity issues on this platform than on other big group video chat apps; plus use it to communicate with all your family members around the world at one time if you so choose. While some are annoyed that it has not been made free for the foreseeable future to assist with big group meetings during the Coronavirus pandemic, others love its ease of use and varied layouts (a tiled setup of faces, if you please?) Use it for book club chats; virtual wine club tastings; or any other club or society meeting that cannot happen in the flesh right now. This too shall pass! Spaces app enables folks to attend Zoom meetings in VR.

Just a note to all: now that we are communicating widely with many people outside of our homes, while – in the main – feeling comfortable in our own skins within it, there may be lapses of judgment as to what should and should not appear on camera. So be sure that even if pets, kids and partners are wandering around in the background of a group comms session, it pays to request beforehand that everyone is clothed and otherwise on their best behavior before you log on. Otherwise, technology is your friend in staying connected and sane until this dreaded virus has run its global course.

This content is brought to you by Vjaceslavs Smirnovs.

Photo: Shutterstock