Put the “Social” in Social Distancing

As people are stuck in their homes for months of social distancing, they are missing out on many fun or routine things that they use to do throughout the week such as: drinking with friends, playing games, coaching, going to cycling or yoga classes, attending club meetings or discussions, etc. People are beginning to get creative virtually so they can still experience, to an extent, those things that were a part of what made them happy. Mental and emotional health needs to be tended to during a time of social distancing. People are lacking social interactions, fun, and positivity. Here are four creative ways people are staying social through virtual interactions. 

Virtual Happy Hour 

Just because people can’t go to happy hour at 5 p.m. at a bar or restaurant doesn’t mean that must come to an end. Many friend groups or employers are participating in a virtual happy hour through Zoom or other applications to lighten things up. They grab their drink of choice and use it as a fun way to catch up with friends or colleagues. 

A senior at Radford University, Lindsay McFarlane, had a recent happy hour on an app called Life Size with colleagues from work. “It was great to be able to see my work friends that I haven’t gotten to interact within a while. My workplace always has a very positive vibe so to be able to have that energy virtually was extremely helpful and boosted my mood,” said McFarlane. She went on to say that even though it won’t replace real-time interaction, it was still an activity that made her smile and reassures her that she isn’t alone during these strange times. 

During these virtual happy hours, people are taking it a step further and adding drinks games like beer pong. To play, there just needs to be 4 phones — one on each team, one on each set of cups. This has turned into the new Friday or Saturday night for people around the nation. 

Virtual Workout Session 

Many fitness companies are extending free trials, giving out free home workout guides, and giving discounts on their virtual workout sessions. Peloton has given out a 90-day free trial for the app that comes with various workouts and led with an instructor. Local yoga studios are setting up meeting room IDs for members to still participate from home and CrossFit gyms are doing virtual coaching to get their members through the prescribed home workout. Not only are people staying involved through other fitness channels, but they are connecting with a friend virtually to do a workout together. It’s accountability at its finest. 

Virtual Movie Night 

Watching a movie with your friends or significant other virtually is trending on social media. Some applications have a way to show their screen; this is where one person that is putting the movie of choice shares their screen from Netflix or Hulu. 

A sophomore at Radford University, Natalie Welsh, did a virtual movie night through Zoom and instead of sharing the screen, they all pressed play on the same movie on the same night during the call. “It made me so happy talking to all my friends in a group and seeing all their faces, it’s refreshing to laugh with them in times like this where it gets lonely,” Welsh said. According to  Business Insider, there is also a Netflix party feature that is an extension on Google Chrome. It’s been around for a while but is just now gaining more attention. They have updated and added seven extra servers. 

House Party Video App 

House Party is a trending video app that is a face-to-face, social network to stay connected with people. It alerts people when their friends are “In the house” and ready to chat so it’s effortless to jump in the conversation. When they open the app, their friends will also know so that they can quickly join in. It also allows people to play games like entertainment trivia with whoever is on. If someone isn’t on the app, there is a feature to send a Facemail, which is like leaving a video message for someone and they will see it once they open the app. This is the closest thing right now to hang out with a friend. 

Although virtual hangouts aren’t the same as being in person with people, it still helps the situation. “I think that virtual hangouts help and bring some light to our day considering the situation that we’re in, but it’s still not the same as when we’re together doing things together in real life,” Welsh said.