Elizabeth is a Membership Clerk at Do Space
I am currently a Membership Clerk at Do Space, and my favorite part of the job is interacting with people (both coworkers and patrons). I love having conversations with patrons, hearing their stories, telling anecdotes that make them laugh, complimenting their outfits. I am, by nature, a very social person, and I love being around and engaging with others. (This is also true outside of work. I used to have movie nights in college that could draw 24 people into a closet-sized dorm room to eat Oreos and watch Rocky Horror Picture Show.)
So, as you might imagine, social distancing and working from home have been a little bit rough for me. I can’t wait to get back into our building and start working with our lovely public again. However, there have been a couple of online tools that have made it possible to socialize with my friends without having to come in contact and risk spreading germs. Without these lovely inventions, I don’t know how I would have made it through six weeks of staying at home.
Most people know by now that it is possible to have a video call with someone, so that you can still talk face-to-face even if you aren’t in the same room. What I didn’t know before now was how many platforms exist for doing just that. I personally have an iPhone, which means that I can video chat with any other iPhone user by selecting “FaceTime” from my app options. In keeping in touch with friends throughout this time of social distancing, I’ve tried out a bunch of their preferred video chatting apps as well, including Google Duo, Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom. All of these are available as app downloads, at least on my phone, and Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom are all accessible on a web browser from a laptop or desktop computer as well.
My friends and I are fond of playing Jackbox Games at parties. Jackbox Games are downloadable via Steam, and they consist of a bunch of group games that are broadcast on a television set or computer screen. Players submit answers to questions or drawings for Pictionary-type games via their phones, then those drawings or answers show up on the TV or computer screen for the whole group to see. Since a lot of this process was already digital, we thought we might be able to translate it into the social-distancing world, and we were right! One of my friends set up a Discord channel for our group, which is a chatting website that allows you to speak to each other (sort of like a conference call) and share your computer screen. My friend broadcast the Jackbox game to the Discord channel, which we all had open in one tab of the Internet, and then we submitted our answers via another tab of the Internet. It… was slightly more complicated than I had initially thought it would be, but, once we got the tech glitches worked out, it was a ton of fun and felt like being together at a party… minus ordering a pizza to share.
Netflix Party is a Chrome extension, which means you can only use it on desktop or laptop computers, and only if you’re using Chrome as your browser. The extension’s website has a simple step-by-step breakdown of how to use it, but the basic premise is that you and a friend can watch the same show at the same time and chat/instant message while doing so. Maybe you’re not a show-talker, but I’m someone who has to constantly comment on characters’ actions, motivations, and clothing choices, so being able to do so in real-time with a friend (from our separate homes) instantly appealed to me.
If you and your family or friends are more into board games than video games, you might think you’re out of luck in our currently online-only era. However, Board Game Arena has a selection of board games that they have made playable online. The games range from classics, like backgammon and checkers, to more modern hits, such as Sushi Go and 7 Wonders. The site is free, and you can either invite friends to play with you or ask the site to select a random opponent for you from other players online at the time.
Lastly, although this is not a website or an app, I have to recommend good old-fashioned letter writing. There is little as exciting as getting an unexpected postcard or letter in your mailbox. I’ve been sending postcards to all my friends on their birthdays this year, and it’s a fun (but inexpensive) way to give your friend a tangible object that shows you’re thinking of them on their special day.
Just because we are all being asked to practice social distancing doesn’t mean we have to be distant from the ones we love. Hopefully at least one of these sites or ideas will spark a new way for you to keep in touch with those you care about.
(Don’t forget to keep in touch with us by following us on social media and checking our website for webinars and blog posts!)