In normal times, social media often has a reputation of being problematic because of how people interact online. From political arguments and trolls, to screen addictions and the unconscious desire to compare lives, some technology evolved ahead of our ability to use it productively — until virtual became the only option. Now users are finding creative ways to fill a void for human interaction as social distancing policies remain in place for an undetermined amount of time.
As the majority of the U.S. hunkers down in self-isolation, new uses for the internet have emerged. Children are connecting with their teachers (albeit with unique circumstances), companies have adopted new teleworking capabilities, and tutorials exist to even help military spouses cut their service member’s hair. If you are missing co-workers, gym sessions or your go-to local places, here are five ways to get social when you can’t leave your house:
My Saturday morning after this difficult month was made a little brighter when a friend invited me to join a brand-new Facebook group called Quarantine Karaoke. One enterprising man started the quickly growing space with members uploading videos of karaoke at home. Some are sweet, some are hilarious, and some showcase hidden talent across the states. Join in to upload, watch, or start your own smaller group with friends showcasing something you normally do together, but can’t right now.
Try new apps
Have you convinced your teen to make a Tik Tok video with you yet? Maybe dancing on video isn’t your thing, but there is an app for everything. A friend who is a decade younger than me and has been at home with her small children for over four weeks in South Korea convinced me to join Voxxer. It’s been so much easier to keep up with her by recording short audio clips to listen to when we can. I first heard about this app during the 2017 hurricane season because it basically turns your cell phone into a walkie talkie. Start a chat with one friend or a group to hear each other’s voices.
Get outdoors by staying indoors
Museums, national parks, and zoos are just some of the attractions offering free virtual tours. Bonus: you can plan ‘day trips’ to add some creative learning opportunities into your student’s week. For example, the National Museum of the Marine Corps gives visitors access to online exhibits showcasing a recruit’s experience in boot camp and World War I. Click here: http://virtualusmcmuseum.com.
Or, what about a virtual science lesson by way of your local zoo? Zoos are one of the many industries hit hard by social distancing. Their employees need to continue caring for the animals, and you can support their work by viewing daily videos on Facebook or Instagram of the behind-the-scenes look at animal care. Consider making a donation for the cost of your family’s visit to one of the parks. Our local El Paso Zoo near Fort Bliss, Texas, is one of the many zoos participating.
Zoom Happy Hour
Zoom isn’t just for work meetings. Who doesn’t need happy hour in their life right now? Setup an after dinner date during the week to catchup with your favorite people or jump on a group workout at your local gym. Many places are offering them for free or at a discounted price.
Zoom is also a great option for gathering people for special occasions that we can’t celebrate traditionally (and luckily military spouses are masters of doing holidays in unorthodox ways). We have seen everything from virtual birthday parties to mixers to religious classes.
Support small businesses
The financial burden caused by COVID-19 is hitting individuals and businesses across all industries, with an especially painful cost to small business owners. Entrepreneurs have needed to pivot their business models with a very short turnaround time, including brick-and-mortar companies.
Local restaurants are transforming into food trucks, fitness instructors are teaching across Facebook Live, and coffee shops are delivering homemade goods. Your duty station just won’t be the same without those mom and pop locations, so supporting small businesses now is critical if those owners are going to survive. By visiting the company’s Facebook page or website, you can purchase gift cards or the current offering of goods and services adapted for this time.
What’s the most creative thing you’ve done to connect with others during the pandemic?