Social interaction has died. How do YOU stay alive?
Updated: Apr 10
It's now now Day 28 since "Social Distancing" was a thing, Day 14 since most "stay home" orders were implemented, and Day 5 of self-isolating or quarantining since the pandemic peak is now upon us. Going from a world of social overload to one of immediate isolation, here's a few tips on how to help keep your sanity over the next couple of weeks.
If you're anything like me, the death of the sporting world also killed a large part of your soul. When I wasn't watching the game of the week or retweeting the latest player gossip, you could find me out on the softball field or enjoying a game of "who's the best drunk bowler." What's worse, my professional life revolves around the recently-departed industry as I manage a coed sports and social club and dabble in coaching from time to time. Sports and socializing IS my life. Needless to say, the last 30+ days have been the ultimate test to my very existence - physically, emotionally and mentally. So like the nasty bug itself, I've found a way to adapt - and managed to have a little newfound fun along the way.
So if the only excitement you've recently had after the closing of restaurants and bars is standing at least six feet behind the cart in front of you, you're probably on the verge of an antisocial breakdown and likely to be found curled up naked in the corner of your kitchenette/home-office bouncing back-and-forth between Team Joe and Team Carole. It's a sad ending to your once hectic yet connected life-style. But don't fear, my pasty, malodorous friends. I'm here to help. Take a shower first, then take a stab at one of these foolproof activities to keep your sanity, and hopefully a few friends, along the way.
If the NFL Draft can go virtual, then so can we. There are some worthy (and free) video conferencing apps readily available, like Zoom or Hangouts, that will allow you to see your friends' faces again. Schedule a virtual Happy Hour on Friday at 5:00, or stream a scary movie together with Netflix Party and use the chat feature to spoil all the obvious cheesy endings. If you're the hosting type, go a step further and combine your gathering with any one of a myriad of social party apps available, like Jackbox, Picolo or Houseparty. You'll soon forget you were never at a bar or actual house party, and you'll leave your socially desperate friends craving for more. Just keep in mind that, even in today's world, it's okay to say 'no'. There's a fine line between weekly social hours and waking up from a 2-month pandemic blackout.
Yeah, yeah, yeah... jigsaw puzzles are for Grandma. Well, when you've got what seems like an eternity on your hands, puzzles are just the thing to keep your mind busy and that competitive energy flowing. And jigsaw puzzles no longer appeal to just Grandma. Try the 1000 piece Starry Night puzzle by Flame Tree Publishing or the erotic 50 Shades of Her (or Him) by Eurographics Puzzles. Or if you're really a masochist, check out this seemingly serene Destiny scene by Motivational Classics by Successories, in which I personally had to take apart the identically-cut pieces an average of 19.7 times per hour, if you keep track of that sort of thing. Finish them, bask in your glory, and then box them up and donate to a friend and draw them into your temporary torment.
You've been wearing the same sweatpants for the past 2 weeks - not because you're sweating to the oldies, but rather to hide the extra lbs you've likely packed on sitting at home with a food stock large enough to feed a small village. We all know exercise is important, but now more than ever we need that extra dose of endorphins. And no need to do this alone - there are multiple apps available that incentivize users just for exercising. Cryptocurrency apps like Sweatcoin and LifeCoin simply reward users for walking and convert steps into coins to earn prizes. If you need that peer-pressure push, try one of the competition-based exercise apps, like Fitocracy which has a built-in fitness community, or StepBet, in which you can compete for actual currency. So peel yourself off the couch, put on a more revealing outfit, and start burning the blues away! Your body will thank you for it when we're able to rejoin civilization.
You may have deduced by the irritating buffering interruptions during your Tiger King marathon that the entire stuck-at-home world has the same idea. I'm sure somebody else's internet provider is amazing, allowing them to binge-watch everything from Game of Thrones to GLOW. But not mine. I can't even watch an episode of Friends on TBS without the inevitable freeze, buffer and skip throughout the show. It's a damn good thing I know every line or heads would be turning... but back to our immediate problem. How will 'society' cope with the streaming overload pandemic on top of Covid-19 pandemic? Well, I suggest pulling out your dusty boxes and soft cases of DVDs, microwave some popcorn, and enjoy movies the old-fashioned way. I bet you'll stumble upon that gem of a movie you can't even find online. Better yet, you can sort, categorize and index your collection (full-circle back to Friends) and challenge yourself to see how many you can watch before the distancing is lifted. I'm on 42 of 562 for those counting.
Now, don't call 211 on me or egg my house for suggesting you ignore crucial shelter-in-place laws. I'm abiding and doing my part to stop the spread (just refer to the puzzles and DVD indexing above.) But that doesn't mean we can't get some vital sun and fresh air back into our lives! If you're anywhere in the US, your backyard probably needs plenty of love. Get out and pull weeds or finish that outdoor kitchen or garden project you started 3 years ago. You now have the time. If your yard is immaculate or you don't have one, go for a walk, a jog (and rack up those Sweatcoins) or have a neighborhood tailgate toasting from your own spaces. We've even seen resilient teens (used to having big, over-the-top parties) adapt and stage drive-by parades, where friends come out of the house and cheer on the birthday girl while she rides around like the Queen of England. Or if dining out was your thing pre-social distancing, get out and support your local restaurants. See if your neighborhood Peppers is offering curbside service and go grab a taco or three. Besides, you're exercising now, so enjoy a brief indulgence.
Social Media Interaction
Though less than a month ago, I cringed at the site of any teen spazzing out to the latest TikTok and quickly scrolled through the endless proud mommy moments on facebook, I now find myself briefly stopping to indulge in the various displays of egomania. If social distancing has taught me anything, it's that I can only do so much self-reflection and binge-watching alone. We are wired to connect, people who need people. As idiotic or painful as I believe some of these posts to be, it's still the very thing that makes us human, drawing us to connect - sometimes like watching a train wreck - just so we also feel somewhat human. So if you're one of those people glued to your phone waiting for a 'friend' to give your life meaning, then good for you! Keep connecting. But if you're like me and only use it for the latest news updates or blogs about sanity, then I challenge you to embrace it. I would say it's becoming our norm, but let's face it, people, it already is.