How to put the "social" in social distancing

Feeling a little bit lonely these days? Luckily it's pretty easy to spend time with friends without actually being with them. Just be creative about it.


If you’re struggling with being shut in right now, you’re not alone. I mean, you might literally be alone (like me!), but you’re not the only one experiencing this. Humans are social creatures, and it’s hard to go without seeing friends and family members for extended periods of time. That said, there are still ways to connect with one another even if we can’t meet up face to face. Here are a few suggestions for when you find yourself itching to socialize.


Set up video chat/phone dates

Don’t let your inability to meet up in person stop you from grabbing a drink or a bite to eat with a friend. Set up a time to chat and an activity to share, like making coffees or cooking the same fancy dinner. Scheduling these “dates” will help you keep a routine going and give you something to look forward to. It’s easy for the days to all blend together, but if you have an appointment like “lunch with Jamie at 12pm on Tuesday,” you won’t have to completely lose your grip on time.


Play games online

As terrible as the whole coronavirus pandemic is, at least it has come at a time when technology makes it easier than ever to talk to each other—and play games with other online. Games like the Jackbox Party Packs are great for this. If you have a videoconferencing app that allows you to share your screen like Google Hangouts or Zoom, you can broadcast the game to your friends, and they can play using their phones. It’s a ton of fun and a great way to take your mind off of everything else going on. You can also find online versions of physical games like Cards Against Humanity, Uno, and plenty of others to keep yourself occupied. Or hey, you could even begin your own Dungeons and Dragons campaign, which can keep you occupied for hours!


Go back to letters

That’s right folks, we’re kicking it Jane Austen-style. If you don’t feel up to long chats, or you’re in a situation where your roommate is working and you shouldn’t make too much noise, writing letters is a great way to keep in touch. It has all the therapeutic benefits of journaling plus all the fun of having a pen pal. If nothing else, it’ll allow you to keep your writing muscles sharp. You don’t have to go full old-school, of course—email works fine, too. And as a bonus, in 50 years when you’re telling your grandchildren about what this time was like, you’ll have a written account of what you did!


Create a watch party or book club

If you’re finding yourself with too much time on your hands, another fun idea is to get a group together and commit to consuming some culture. This could be in a virtual book club format, or you could use extensions like Netflix Party to binge a TV show together (and if you need recommendations, Dru has you covered). The benefit of this is that it gives you something to discuss, so you don’t get stuck in the loop of stressing about how everything seems to be falling apart. It doesn’t even have to stay with your friend group—put out a call on your social media channels and see who’s interested! We’re all going a little stir crazy, and now is a great chance to form some new friendships.


Find a study buddy

A lot of us are struggling to stay on task with schoolwork right now, and that’s OK. What might help is making an arrangement with a friend to keep you accountable. This could be an agreement to check in every 30 minutes and see how everyone is progressing, or a FaceTime session where you both do your own work while “hanging out.” Sometimes what we miss most isn’t talking to other people, but just being able to experience their presence in silence. It might be a while before we get to do that in person, but we can always try to replicate it for the time being.