“Physical distancing, NOT social distancing,” reads the spray paint on the boarded up windows of Practice Yoga on E 6th Street in Austin.
With Shelter in Place orders, quarantines and the encouragement of distancing, we’re using technology in new and creative ways. The need for social connection doesn’t stop during the COVID-19 pandemic and while physical proximity is out of the question for many of us, social isolation doesn’t need to be part of the package. Here are some ways our community is using technology in innovative ways to stay connected during these times.
Virtual happy hours We’re hopping on Zooms and Google Hangouts to share a story and a drink. Now you don’t need to leave the happy hour early to let the dog out! We’ve traded in our conferencing systems from professional use for a mechanism of social drinking. We’re using these platforms for work happy hours, friend wine nights, or any other occasion to have a drink in hand with a friend.
Party games turned educational Not only are we using Zoom/Google Hangouts again to share screens to play Jackbox games with friends, but the games are also being used for teaching remotely. Teachers can create their own games on Quiplash, for example, by customizing episodes to mirror lesson content for a fun, virtual and educational break!
Virtual dance parties We’re using these free Zoom accounts for EVERYTHING folks. Just because we’re in quarantine doesn’t mean that we can’t dance the night away (for 40 minutes). Don’t forget to BYO hat!
Netflix Party Hey all you cool cats and kittens! Why watch alone when you can watch with friends? Netflix Party is a chrome extension that allows users to watch Netflix at the same time and includes a chat section. Did Carole Baskin ____ ___ _______? We’ve debated it live in the Netflix Party chat, where we can converse with folks while watching TV and movies, always with the option of muting or ignoring the chat and not participating when it gets a little too controversial. Best of both worlds.
Online birthday parties We’re celebrating our aunts’, uncles’, nieces’ and nephews’ birthdays more than we have in years. Birthday texts no longer make the cut. It’s now mandatory that extended family joins the party online.
Virtual board games Instead of letting social distancing prohibit game night, we’ve just moved online. Settlers of Catan has an online platform called Catan Universe. The detail in the graphics rivals the detail on the original board game. While we can only play with three humans (yes, it specifies humans) per game, there’s no harm in teaming up to include more players. We’re also getting the IRL effect of community because while playing online, we still use Facetime or Google Hangouts to communicate. Be careful not to divulge strategy on the Zoom call. When teaming up virtually, it’s best practice to have a separate chat outside the group!
Online education gets magical We can now attend Hogwarts! The online wizarding world has unleashed free courses, from Transfiguration to Defense Against the Dark Arts, with assignments that get submitted and graded by professors.
Live stream workout classes Online workout classes aren’t new, but now local studios are using Zoom to live stream their classes. It’s hard to carry the essence of an in-person class when going digital, but Sukha Yoga here in Austin is still reaching us with live music played during the classes!
Live stream concerts The Live Music Capital of the World stays strong through the pandemic. We can stay up to date with concerts and events here!