4 Ways to Stay Connected While Practicing Social Distancing

Editor’s Note: This story is part of our COVID-19 (the ‘rona) series. Click to learn more about our local ‘rona coverage. UPDATED: April 13, 2020 at 1:47 a.m.

Like most citizens of the world right now, the coronavirus has probably done a number on your social life. Few have experienced the level of isolation that the pandemic is causing. Adjusting to social distancing can be difficult, but thinking of creative ways to keep ourselves entertained is crucial to the success of the global quarantine.

While we’re all stuck at home, consider some ways to cope with the isolation and to stay connected with friends. 

(1) Watching Netflix

This might sound odd since Netflix is typically for nights alone with a warm blanket and a pint of ice cream or with a friend beside you on the couch. But unbeknownst to those “Netflix and chill” pros, the Google Chrome web browser has an extension called “Netflix Party” that allows you to watch your favorite Netflix films with up to 50 of your closest friends. 

Netflix Party has been around for years, but amidst the quarantine, it has gained a lot more attention. Recently, thousands of fans around the world committed to streaming Beyonce’s Coachella performance simultaneously through the extension, doing their best to stay sane alongside the Beyhive in these trying times.

The app only allows text chatting during the movie screening. While that means no face-to-face interaction, you can still take comfort in knowing that someone is there with you, watching the same movie and laughing at the same jokes. While there’s very little cuddling involved, Netflix Party is still a great way to bond with people you may not see for a while.

Newly added classics like “Space Jam,” “Shawshank Redemption” and “Resident Evil” give you plenty of options in addition to Netflix’s already huge library. So evite a few friends, ration out your doomsday popcorn supply and enjoy the show.

The Avant-Youth team watches a movie together via Netflix Party.   James Hunter | Avant-Youth

(2) Playing a few games

Video games are a simple, easy way to stay connected with your closest friends from a distance while also keeping yourself mentally stimulated. Pull out your Nintendo Switch and invite friends to your personal island in the newly released “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” or gather a couple of pals and dive into “Call of Duty’s” new “Warzone” battle royale mode on Xbox One, Playstation 4 or PC.

Video games range in difficulty from very casual to extremely hardcore, so there are plenty of options for any level of gamer. For slightly more serious players, “Madden,” “NBA 2K” and “Fortnite” are excellent games to engage in some bonding time with a little competition. And if you’re feeling daring, you could always try your hand at popular esports titles like “League of Legends,” “Overwatch” or “Apex Legends.”

For those on the more moderate side, chiller games like the Sims, Animal Crossing, or any number of social and idle games could do just the trick. Phone apps like “Gamepigeon” for Apple devices and “Plato” for both Android and iOS also offer access to classic party games like UNO or Connect Four that you can play no matter where you are.

For years, video games have been the go-to choice for many in maintaining friendships from a distance. For those who never could find the time to give video games a try, now is a perfect time to borrow your sibling’s Xbox or download that phone game you’ve seen a dozen ads for.

James Hunter | Avant-Youth

(3) Creating digital content

This may seem like the most obvious choice. Social media apps, like Twitter and Facebook, have long connected us from a distance. Using them to stay connected with friends isn’t anything new. But the normal, infrequent subtweeting or picture tagging will only stay interesting for so long when there’s so little else to do. 

Recently, an influx of bored social media users have gone on their favorite platforms and started to create their own content. TikTok is flooded with all sorts of challenges for its housebound users to execute and spread. Twitter users have begun creating threads of questionnaire posts to keep their followers involved and to learn a little more about each other. And some Facebook users have even talked about readopting the early 2010s trend of “tbh” and “rate” posts to stay connected.

The Avant-Youth fam takes on the “Something New” challenge.   

Malik Wells | Avant-Youth

Certain social media tools give you the option of creating content alongside your friends no matter where you are. Instagram allows you to stream live video with another user (so you can both watch paint dry in public) and TikTok’s duet feature lets you expand on videos created by other users on the app. 

Scrolling through your feed and watching your favorite content creators exercise their own boredom is certainly a way to go, but with so much free time, learning to create your own content is a great way to exercise your imagination and show off your sense of humor.

In this age of technology and the internet, it’s never been easier to stay close with your friends. A little wifi and a few taps on a phone screen is all it takes to make you forget that you’re not even in the same room. 

(4) Getting a Little Personal

When all else fails, and social media gets ridicuslously tiring, trust that there are other, more personal ways to stay connected with your friends. Getting a little creative and making something for your friends can be the perfect balance of entertainment and thoughtfulness.

Making a digital photo album is one way to show your friends just how much you miss them. Put all of your favorite memories with your best friends in one place and use your imagination  to make the process as colorful and fun as possible.

Most social media apps and smartphones have a way to put your favorite photos in a shareable collection. Apps like Canva, Shutterfly and Mixbook work well to keep all of your best shots in one place or to help give them a little more pizzazz. Facebook will even allow you to make a slideshow or collage out of the album when you’re done!

Judith Y. Kim | Avant-Youth

A homemade mixtape can also be a thoughtful gesture while in isolation. Apps like Apple Music and Spotify can help you connect with your closest friends through an organized playlist of new song suggestions or beloved song selections.

While creating picture books and playlists might seem a little less stimulating than other entries on the list, these more intimate methods of connection are just as important. Exercising that consideration for others will not only keep you busy, but can also make a friend or family member’s day and make you closer than ever before. 

While we’re all impacted by the quarantine, there may be those of us who are more reliant on the presence of our loved ones in our lives. While we can’t be expected to spend hours curating collages for every name on our contact list, try picking one or two people you think could most use a reminder of your affection and make their day. Remember, we’re all in this together.

Keeping yourself occupied and entertained for days, weeks, months at a time is a difficult task while in quarantine. During this time of social distancing, staying connected with our closest friends and family members is essential.

Luckily, the twenty-first century offers us plenty of options to stay connected with our favorite people digitally. It may not be the same as going out for drinks or carpooling to the movies, but until the state of emergency is over, keep doing your best to think up fun and creative ways to stay entertained and to show those closest to you that they’re still on your mind. 

Stay safe and more importantly, stay inside!

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1 Comment

Working Retail During a Pandemic • Avant-Youth · August 10, 2020 at 2:07 am

[…] severity of the situation cannot be stressed enough, and the best thing we can do is practice social distancing, among other advice we’ve repeatedly heard throughout this […]

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