How To Keep In Touch In A Time Of Social Distancing
Even if you're practicing social distancing, you can still host a social gathering and stay in touch online in the comfort of your own home
The world is slowing down, with everything from gyms and sports grounds, to restaurants and bars closing their doors. Social distancing and self-isolating are becoming the norm across the globe, but that doesn't mean life has to be lonely or boring. Make the most of it and use this time to reconnect with those that we rarely make time for in our busy lives. Rally together friends near and far, set a date and enjoy each other’s (virtual) company – all with a little help from technology.
We all know the usual suspects of WhatsApp, Facetime and Skype – and these are still great to beat loneliness and stay in touch – but in 2020 there are a plethora of fun new ways to hang out with friends online. Who knows, we may even come out the other side of this more connected than ever before.
Read on for tips on how to make the most of virtual socialising, and the apps that can help along the way.
Set a date (and stick to it)
It’s an all-to-easy mistake to vaguely mention a catch up “soon” and then never follow through, but at times like these, we need to stay connected and support each other more than ever. Whether your friends and family are in the same city, or on the other side of the world, it’s important to set a time and stick to it – especially if you’re getting together a large group. And as everyone is staying home there are far fewer excuses for being fashionably late.
Get dressed up
Just because you’re not meeting at a bar or restaurant doesn’t mean you should turn up to your virtual gathering in your pyjamas. Make an effort and get yourself dressed and ready before your scheduled call – it will make it feel like more of an event and be something to look forward to throughout the day. You may not be in the same room as your friends, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still appreciate your outfit from afar.
Pour a drink
Yes, virtual happy hours are now a thing. As with the above, the new way of virtually socialising is so much more than your usual Sunday evening Skype call. Encourage a sense of occasion and pour yourself a drink. Whether that means reaching for your favourite bottle of red, shaking up a cocktail or even opening the whiskey you keep for special occasion is up to you. To make it even more interactive, organise with your group what you are going to be drinking so you can coordinate and feel like you’re hanging out as normal.
Set the scene
If you were having friends over for a dinner party you would most likely make an effort to tidy, set the table and make a comfortable environment for your guests. And an online gathering is no different. If you’re on the same time zone and meeting over dinner, set your laptop at a spare place at the table so it feels like you’re chatting over dinner.
Go one step further than dinner and drinks and get creative with your virtual entertainment. Virtual quizzes can easily be played online, much like old school board games such as Scattergories or chess, which work without having to be in the same room.
And if you find yourself getting through more books during this time, why not arrange an online book club with friends to share recommendations and insights?
If you're so inclined, we've even heard of friends working out together virtually through online fitness programmes and apps. Spin enthusiasts can also connect virtually and ride together using Peloton bikes.
The apps to know
No longer reserved just for working meetings, so called “Zoom Parties” have grown in popularity in recent weeks. All you have to do is download the app to your phone or computer and you can enjoy live video call with multiple friends and family at once. The free app can host up to 100 people on one call, or up to 500 with the Large Meeting add-on.
Find out more at zoom.us
Similar to Zoom, but better suited to smaller groups, Houseparty allows up to 8 people to video call at once. The app allows you to easily add your contacts to your friends list, notifying you when they are "in the house". Once on a call, the app features games such as Heads Up, Trivia and Quick Draw to keep you entertained.
Find out more at houseparty.com
Founded in 2019, Hopin is an online venue where organisers can create, host and manage live events for up to 100,000 attendees. Originally started to help organisers work remotely and to tackle the sustainability issues of travel, the app has been in high demand in recent weeks due to COVID-19, helping organisations to go ahead with live meetings and conferences remotely.
Find out more at hopin.to
With quarantine measures in place for many, a Netflix binge is proving to be one of the most popular ways of passing the time – but you don't need to watch alone with the new Netflix Party extension. Not only does the feature synchronise users’ video playback so you can stream the same movie or TV show on Netflix in real time, but it also includes a group chat feature with emojis, screenshots, GIFs, and customised user profiles so you can share your commentary and reactions to the programs as you watch them.
Find out more at netflixparty.com
Marketing itself as. "video walkie-talkie", Marco Polo may not enable live video calls, but it can work for those trying to connect while tackling major time differences. The app works by allowing users to send short video messages to their contacts, making it easier to catch up from afar.
Find out more at marcopolo.me
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