With the invasion of the unpredictable and massively contagious COVID-19, we have all been confined in some way or the other. The hapless migrant workers have been left with no shelters over their heads, the small businesses have had major financial setbacks, tenants in PGs have been forced to vacate or pay exorbitantly high rents and some of us lucky ones are in the safe havens of our homes, but it is undeniably a sorry state of affairs. COVID-19 is like a retributive parent who has grounded us all.
For the ones who really wished to cut all strings and hibernate in peace, it might be an answered prayer. But for all the social birdies, extroverts and people of toxic or violent home environments, having to stay indoors for months on end has proven to be a real nightmare.
Isolation can be mentally taxing. Not having anyone to talk to can have adverse effects on people who have long been feeling lonely and uncared for. Being in a perpetual state of caution and having a fear of catching the contagious virus can all lead to heightened levels of stress and anxiety. Abuse at home, on top of it all, can make everything worse even further.
With nowhere to go, socializing has become all the more important. Most of us have left no stone unturned in staying connected to our friends and families. No matter how strictly the social distancing rules and regulations have been imposed on us, we are fortunate to be living in an era of technological bonanza.
Not only has technology smoothened our way to network building across geographical and cultural boundaries, but it has also brought us closer to the ones we already loved but continued to ignore.
Social distancing has shed its traditional meaning and it really isn’t about digging oneself a cave and staying aloof anymore. It can very well be practiced while socializing. One may be required to stay distant physically but we all know how that isn’t incapacitating anymore. We still have convenient ways to socialize without any brunt.
Here are some highly functional and easy ways of staying in touch, well not literally, through our blue screens and other mediums:
Use group communication apps
Using apps like Zoom, Houseparty, Facetime, Skype, Hangouts, Webex, Google Meet, Netflix Party, or even the simple WhatsApp video chat option, depending on the number of people you wish to interact with at one given point of time.
Zoom, Skype, Webex, and Google Meet, etc. provide a conferential limit of people who can join all at once and WhatsApp sets the limit at four. The other options provide different smaller limits and can be used according to one’s requirements. One can compare a few of these apps here, to recognize which app serves the best.
Although real human embrace cannot be replaced by any other form of contact, the availability of a friend at the dial of a number proves to be the next best option. When we see someone virtually, we experience an actual feeling of having met the person for real. Face-to-face conversations are therapeutic. We can see and comprehend the real emotions of the people we are talking to and can support them better. We can also find it easier to convey our emotions to others through audio-visual means rather than just audio ones or textual ones.
These conference calls can be used for several professional and personal purposes. One could use these for the following:
Playing games over video calls with near and dear ones. This is fun and a great way of bonding with like-minded pals.
Playing Charades with friends is a classic hit, right? Do it from miles away now.
Attending or organizing musical concerts, dance sessions, Zumba classes, workout regimes, etc., from the safety of one’s home.
Attending educative webinars and networking with the contacts hence formed.
Attending occasions and events like birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries with all family members within one frame.
Attending talks and discussions with famous personalities on online discussion forums etc.
Socializing within the family
This one has surprisingly found a place on this list. Somewhat contrary to the above-given networking techniques, another way of healthy socializing is to cut down on the usage of these blue screens and spending quality time with our family members. It is easy to assume that physical proximity automatically ensures good quality relationships. This is an extremely detrimental belief to keep.
Relationships need consistent effort and renewal. We have to agree, in our fast-paced lives, somewhere or the other we have grown increasingly distant from our family members. We have become unresponsive, emotionally guarded, and honestly a lot more selfish than comfortably imaginable. The current pandemic might still push us further into believing that we are now giving ample time to our families. However, this is far from being true. We often lock ourselves up in our rooms and act just as distant as we were before.
An American survey has found that an average American family spends only around 37 minutes of real ‘quality-time’ together in one whole week! Do the following to strengthen family relations:
Hold good conversations.
Help out the family members in small household chores.
Listen to what they have been going through in your absence and also give them a genuine picture of your personal life.
Try to be as transparent and honest as you can be.
This is what counts as quality time. It brings you closer, helps you realize your priorities, and reconnects you to your roots. In times like these, checking up on your loved ones is a great gesture to make. Be empathetic and understanding. This lockdown might not be a vacation for everyone! Bridge the gaps you’ve built between yourself and your families and begin socializing within the four walls of your own homes.
Sending personalized gifts, postcards, letters, and commodities of need
This can be a great way of communicating without much use of technology.
Surprising a loved one with small presents which can easily be sent via online shopping apps can enable you to add elements of excitement and care in your relationships.
Beyond just showing care to acquaintances, buying commodities of necessity for someone who visibly needs your help can initiate you into social work as well.
Moving on, maybe if you are averse to technology and are a little old school, you can take a step towards reviving the culture of letter writing this Corona season! Probably, now is when you must write a letter for your grandfather who lives in your hometown and really seems to struggle with daunting software like Zoom or Skype or even WhatsApp!
Remember to involve your grandparents in your attempts to socialize. Even if you feel there isn’t much in common to discuss with them, hear them out just for the wisdom! You will ultimately benefit from the conversations and they might never say it, but they can be more in need of a companion than you think!
Occasional meetings while following the social distancing guidelines
This is another logical option. We do get relaxation hours in the lockdown every now and then. These hours can be used for catching up with our friends but with perfect caution. What we need to choose wisely is where to meet and how to meet.
There is a higher chance of contracting the virus in closed spaces like houses, restaurants, cafes, shops, malls, etc.
If one has to meet another person necessarily, an open area like a backyard, a park, or a beach where a safe distance of 6ft can be maintained will be the safest option available.
If you are inviting someone home from another household, make sure the guest is already aware of not touching too many things in the house, has a mask on, has sanitized his/her hands, and does not have any symptoms whatsoever that may be indicative of the virus.
While maintaining the specified distance of 6ft between each individual, the guests can be adequately entertained and you can still have a great get-together. Just spare the food sharing, hugging, and kissing rituals for now, please!
You may also read: Corona: Our Sentiment
Be active and responsive on social media platforms
Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other apps of your preference can aid you in gathering a huge audience for yourself and your creativity. If used in the right way these platforms can immensely help you expand your friend circle and network.
You can post major events of your life that you want to celebrate with your friends.
You can post little advertisements if this lockdown has given a kick to your inner entrepreneur and you wish to start working from home.
You can explore options like becoming a social influencer if you’ve got ideas brimming in your mind!
You can receive information about new internships, jobs, and part-time jobs. Getting into a circle of interns also expands your social circle.
You can follow pages of national and international importance that will keep you updated with the latest news across the globe without even moving an inch from your sofas.
You can use the ‘Go Live’ options given on most of these platforms to conduct your events like open mics, jam sessions, informative seminars, and discussions, etc.
You can also attend such ‘live’ sessions conducted by any august personages like politicians, singers, artists, etc.
If nothing else, you can post moments of your day and keep your friends updated, seek their inputs and suggestions, and chat with new people.
Use helpful websites like Now&Me
Now&Me can help you share your concerns with people who might be going through the same circumstances as yours. You can even do this anonymously! Go to the thoughts section and get replies from people across the world who care about your mental health during these afflicted times. Become a part of the community of empathetic listeners and motivated young people, aiming at making a safe and inclusive space for everyone to socialize and address emotional issues.
Now that we have enlisted numerous ways of socializing, it should be easier to manage a social life while taking the due measures required to curb this deadly pandemic. During this unique phase, do not forget to reconnect with your inner self as well. The first person you must befriend is yourself. Only when we are at peace with our own identities can we make space for others to enter our worlds. Remind yourself that you are not restricted in your home, you are safe there, it could have been worse. Use this time learning new skills, making new friends, and not letting your extrovert self die!
Edited by Annanya Chaturvedi