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How to Connect During Social Distancing?

 

Amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus, the supreme order of the authorities is: don't leave home. Many companies followed the recommendation and adopted the home office regime. However, social detachment can be psychologically heavy for many people, especially when associated with a pandemic that makes us give up the right to come and go to respect and preserve others.

If you are already missing your friends and coworkers, organizing a virtual happy hour can be a good way to get everyone together in an online chat. The idea is fun, free (or at least very cheap) and can help improve mood and give a boost of spirits to those who need it most.

The human being is gregarious, that is, lives in society. One of the most basic needs is contact. Quarantine, or the compulsory withdrawal from other people, brings a sense of isolation, helplessness and even depression. Technology is an excellent tool to supply, at least in part, that feeling. We can look at each other, talk, laugh together, share feelings, ask for a "virtual hug", work and even do therapy. You can feel that you are still part of a community, that there are people on the other side of your screen who care about you.

Seems fun right? Here are some tips on how to put a “virtual happy hour” into practice.

  • Choose the platform
    The ideal is to choose a service that everyone is familiar with. The options are many: Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook, Skype and even Instagram allow you to gather several friends in the same video call.
  • Set the meeting time
    Just as you would at a happy hour in the physical world, you need to set a start time. It is very likely that that late friend will also be the last to connect and join the group. Likewise, the partygoers will be the last to leave the room.
  • Create a collaborative playlist
    A party is not a party without music, is it? Tools like Spotify allow you to create collaborative playlists, where each guest adds the music they prefer and, at the time of the meeting, just let the sound roll.
  • Drinks and snacks
    Encourage your guests to set aside some snacks and drinks of their choice to participate in the event, so you are not just looking at the screen with nothing in your hands, as in a formal business meeting. Pizza is always a good idea.
  • Prepare the look
    Putting on some nice clothes to stay at home is really Christmas for the family, isn't it? But if we take into account that the opportunities for you to really get ready to see other people will be scarce, why not take advantage and look good in the photos of the crowd? Above all, it helps to boost self-esteem.
  • Share content
    The vast majority of video chat platforms allow you to share your computer screen. This feature can be used to show a music clip to friends or even a funny video seen during the day.
  • Keeping a light mood
    We are living in an unprecedented situation, so it is natural that our days are overloaded and filled with worries and anxiety. Take advantage of this moment to have fun and have light and pleasant conversations with those you love.

Are you ready to try out these tips? Happy connecting while staying safe!

Ana Claudia Henn Alves
M.S. in Digital Arts student
March 26, 2020

References:
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/smarter-living/coronavirus-anxiety-tips.html
https://estherperel.com/blog/social-connection-while-socially-distancing
https://wtop.com/coronavirus/2020/03/missing-friends-during-coronavirus-7-tips-to-host-a-virtual-happy-hour/