Staying Connected while Social Isolating for COVID-19

I am starting to feel the repercussions of socially isolating to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Seattle’s Comic Con was cancelled, as was a podcast event I was really looking forward to.  For a while, I was playing games with small groups of friends, but as of this week, even that is stopping.  I’m an introvert, so most of my favorite activities are at home.  But when I think about living under these restrictions for weeks, or even months, I feel overwhelmed.  It is going to be important that we find and prioritize ways to stay connected even while we socially isolate.  Here are some places to start:

  • Marco Polo (Apple / Google)Marco Polo is an app that allows you to send and receive video messages.  They can be as long as you want, and if you catch someone at the right moment, you can watch the video live.  Previously sent videos are always available in a thread at the bottom of the screen.  I find this so much more convenient than FaceTime, since you can send a video at any time without having to coordinate times.  This was a favorite of mine before the pandemic, but it’s become even more essential after.
  • Google Hangout (Google)When you want to chat with multiple people at once, Google Hangout in the way to go.  I’ve used this to talk to the whole family at once (we’re in different cities and countries) as well as to play games with friends from our own homes.  Everyone’s picture is on the screen, but the person making the most noise automatically dominates the space, so this can be a bit fiddly if someone is snacking loudly without actually saying anything.  Still, it’s a great platform for group conversations!
  • Roll20 (Roll20)For my fellow D&D nerds out there, Roll20 is a necessity.  I have only used this once, and my group couldn’t actually figure out all the facets of this system, and STILL I recommend it.  It’s incredible.  With video and audio available to interact with your group, the DM can create a shared map upon which you move your character as you advance the story and roll virtual dice.  It’s a brilliant set up, and it makes me excited to play D&D with more people from different spaces!
  • WhatsApp (Apple / Google)There are other apps like this out there, such as Viber or Facebook Messenger, but WhatsApp is my favorite.  A free texting, calling, or videoing app, you can create individual or group chats with people all around the world with any kind of cell phone provider. Always a necessity!
  • Write Letters and Send GiftsTechnology allows us to stay connected quickly, but there’s something especially lovely about receiving snail mail from our loved ones during stressful times.  And since so many people are struggling with the loss of work, why not throw in a gift card as well?  We’re going to get through this strange and scary time together, so long as we prioritize staying connected!

I want to get back into blogging again, especially as having content and distractions is more important than ever.  I’m planning on doing some recommendation pieces next, but if you have a request or a suggestion for something I could write about, leave a comment.  I’ll see what I can do!

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