Staying Connected In the New Era of Social Distancing

If you haven’t been counting the days, the outbreak started 45 days ago and self-isolation could last through 2022. I know some of us have been holding our breath waiting for this to be over so we can go back to our old lives, but as of now social distancing is the new normal.

Humans crave connection and what gives life pleasure is sharing it with other people. Being alone can be hard. Seeing how the situation will drag out for an indefinitely long time, try to be mindful about maintaining your friendships even without the ability to see them.  

For those of us with smartphones and active social media accounts we are already familiar with keeping in touch through group chats, tagging our friends in memes, and the easy banter that comes with having an online presence. Take time to remember your friends who are not active online. Over the past month I’ve reconnected with them through text and video chat. On the flip side if you happen to be one of those people then let your friends know you are still available through email, messenger pigeon, or whatever it is that you use! 

If you have elderly family members or someone in your inner circle without a smartphone you can try restoring an old iPad or laptop with a webcam on it and teach them how to video chat. There’s also nothing wrong with a good old fashioned voice only call.  

Take phones and computers out of the equation and send your loved ones mail. Writing a letter is a pleasant way to pass the time and your friends will appreciate getting something in the mail that isn’t a bill. If you don’t have the energy for writing long, heartfelt messages a postcard will confine you to one paragraph and the gesture will still be appreciated. 

Even though time feels so fluid right now everyone’s situation is different. The extra free time that’s supposed to come with working from home doesn’t always apply. I have found myself still planning video chats up to a week in advance like it’s one of my regular coffee dates. Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s a stressful time so not all of your friends may have the emotional bandwidth to reach out or talk. 

Social distancing is probably hurting activity-based friendships the most, but there are still ways to work around this. Try deepening those connections by opening up about your life more, perhaps the shared experience of living through your first pandemic. (“Wow, I’m getting really sick of cooking right now!”) You can still have shared experiences by agreeing on watching the same movie or starting a TV show together and that will give you something to talk about. 

The most obvious solution for creating a shared experience online is online gaming. If you are just a beginner check out https://www.jackboxgames.com/ . They make party games with simple rules so anyone can jump in. There are also a lot of really fun two player games on mobile like Words with Friends and Clash Royale. Planning a time to game with your friends is a fun way to break up your day and feel that spark of connection. 

Know that this will all be over even if we don’t know when. Just because you are physically alone doesn’t mean you are doing life alone. Don’t stop watering your plants, brushing your teeth, or maintaining your friendships.