How to Maintain Your Social Life with Virtual Get-Togethers
One of the toughest parts about sheltering in place is the lack of social interaction. This is especially true for extroverts, who thrive off of interactions with other people. Whether it’s a casual chat with a neighbor, water cooler talk with a coworker, lunch with friends or an after-work happy hour with the ladies, socializing is a natural part of our day-to-day lives.
COVID-19 has turned that all on its head. With parties, barbecues and impromptu celebrations on hold for now, many people are starting to feel a bit isolated. Luckily, there are ways to connect with one another while maintaining social distance. Thanks to technology, you can have a movie night, game night — even a dinner party — from the comfort (and safety) of your own home. Following are some ideas.
Netflix Party is a Chrome extension that lets you watch Netflix with your friends by synchronizing movies and TV shows between users in different locations. It also has a group chat function so you can message one another in real time. Although other service providers haven’t yet jumped on the watch party bandwagon (including Hulu and Amazon Prime), there are third-party apps out there like Kast that allow you to share your screen with others.
There are dozens of multiplayer game apps available online, from UNO to Scrabble to Monopoly. Just download from the App Store or Google Play, find your friends (or invite your friends), and play away. Another option is to download the face-to-face social networking app Houseparty, which has the popular Heads Up! game (similar to Password) already installed. One of the best setups for virtual game-playing is Drawful 2, where players try to figure out the images you sketch on your device.
Everybody loves a happy hour, and Sacramento has no shortage of great happy hours. But the real deal is temporarily off, so why not host a virtual happy hour? Set up a call via online conferencing services like Zoom or Google Hangouts, pour yourself an adult beverage, and chat away. You can even have a theme, such as wine tasting, whiskey cocktails or summer lagers, so that you’re all on the same page.
If going out to eat at one of Sacramento’s great restaurants is part of your social repertoire, then why not take it online? Some creative foodies are holding virtual dinner parties, in which guests order the same item for takeout from their favorite restaurants and then eat “together” on a video call in the safety of their own home. If your crew is handy in the kitchen, you can even prepare the same meal and enjoy it with your friends virtually by your side. Be sure to set the table in your fanciest china to set the mood!
If you’re an avid reader, chances are, you’re a member of a book club. Reading the same book and then getting together to discuss it takes reading to a whole new level. You can still meet virtually, or set up a brand-new book club with your friends. Each month (or week, depending on how much time you have!), ask one person to select the book of choice and host an online meetup with a list of pre-prepared questions. You can also join an established online book club. A good place to start is Goodreads Groups or Meetup. You can also join live Zoom discussions with notable authors via Quarantine Book Club.
If your idea of a night out is showing off your random knowledge at Sacramento-area pub quizzes, you can easily transition to online versions. Many local (and not-so-local) groups are now hosting games online. You can get a team together (virtually of course) and play Trivialogy’s Quarantine Quiz and share your results on their Facebook page. You can also check out the livestream from Geeks Who Drink on Youtube.
If you and your friends spend weekend nights belting out your own version of “Sweet Caroline” or “Don’t Stop Believing,” you better believe you can now do it online. You can check out Karaoke Camp, a free 24-hour online karaoke party on Zoom that anyone can join, or a karaoke app like KaraFun, which can be paired with video chats for the ultimate singing party.