There’s a reason video conferencing app downloads reached a record 62 million downloads during one week in March 2020. Abruptly, these sources for virtual connection became a requirement for work, school, and finally, to maintain some sense of a normal social life.
Take your pick from Zoom, Google Hangout, FaceTime, Houseparty, Marco Polo, Facebook Messenger, or another preferred platform, they’re each available to connect you to your people. Need some advice as to which platform will work best for you? Tech Crunch says these are the best video chat apps to turn your social distancing into distant socializing.
As the COVID-19 quarantine wears on, your basic virtual happy hours and group chats may become a little stale. Here are 9 ways to keep your virtual social life from becoming a snoozefest (or worse, another gripe session).
Change the scene.
For our Zoom users, tell everyone in advance to choose a different background and then explain why they chose it. You can select from Zoom’s Library or upload one of your own. It could be a photo that reflects a special memory (your last family vacation), a funny meme that reflects your mood on that day, or something from pop culture (Jimmy Fallon’s stage, a scene from The Office, the Star Trek bridge).
Or, beforehand, have everyone find the tenth picture in their photo library and make that their background, no matter what it is, or their wedding picture or — cringe — a picture from high school.
Start a conversation.
Ready to change the subject from COVID-19 to…anything else? Take a breather from the heaviness and grab some fun conversation starters from the Internet. Or, skip the search and try these:
- If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
- What popular trend most annoys you?
- Have you ever met anyone famous?
- What is the worst movie you’ve seen recently?
- What one word would you use to describe your family?
- Which TV family is most like your own?
- If you could pick a new first name, what name would you choose?
- If you opened a restaurant, what kind of food would you serve?
- If you had intro music, what song would it be?
- Would you rather go back in time or go to the future?
- If you had to be trapped in a TV show for the rest of your life, which show would you choose?
- What is your earliest memory?
Wine about it.
The COVID-19 quarantine is hard and we need to let off a little steam with our people. After you’ve released your most pressing quarantine frustrations, however, the over 21 crowd should move on from the whining and just talk about the wine. Try these adult beverage-themed conversation starters:
- What was your favorite cocktail when you were in your twenties and what is it now?
- Tell us about your first hangover.
- If you had to choose one alcoholic beverage that would be your only option for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- If you were to create your own new cocktail, what would the primary ingredients be, and what would you call it?
If those cocktail conversations aren’t enough to draw your attention away from reality for a little while, try classic drinking games that don’t require any human contact, such as: Never Have I Ever | Most Likely To | Straight Face
Assign Yearbook Superlatives.
Best Celebrity Look-alike | Best Dressed | Best Entertainer | Best Exaggerator | Best Movie Quoter | Biggest Gamer | Biggest Computer Nerd | Biggest Drama Queen/King| Most Fashionably Late | Most Likely To Become Internet Famous | Most Likely To Star On A Reality TV Show | Most Athletic
Dress it up.
Drag out those old bridesmaid dresses and Halloween costumes for a “wear anything but athleisure” party. Go random or assign a theme such as “Sex and the City” or “80’s rock stars” or “Professional Athletes” — just have fun with it. Virtual attendees can vote for the best/most surprising ensemble.
Start a book club.
If you’ve never been involved in a book club, now is a great time to join or start one. It can be as simple as sharing what you’re currently reading and offering your personal review.
Or, in true book club fashion, agree to read the same book and meet regularly to discuss it. Whether it’s lighthearted fiction, mystery, or a Bible Study, the common interest is sure to be an encouragement to the soul.
If your friends or family aren’t interested, no worries – online book clubs were around long before we decided to #stayathome. They’re easily found online via Goodreads or around the Internet. Also, try this recent TIME article citing 10 Virtual Book Clubs You Can Join Now – and How to Start Your Own. You may find a new group of friends.
Get your sports fix.
Sports fans the world over are bumming hard over the postponement of NCAA, NBA, MLB, MLS, rec sports, and more. Wear your favorite team jersey and have a sports trivia night. You can find sports trivia books and card games on Amazon, but in a quick pinch, the Internet is loaded with ideas.
Get your Friends fix.
Rumor has it, those six Friends who were your friends before you starting adulting are making a comeback. That means it’s time to brush up on your Friends trivia! Not a Friends fan? How about The Office, or Star Wars? Whatever it is that your group leans toward, have some fun challenging each other to learn who knows it best.
Get the kids in on the fun.
Kids are missing their friends, teams, and classmates. Why should they miss all the virtual chatting fun? In my own household, they’re still learning how to do this and it’s a little awkward. I’ve watched my 9 year old and her friends watch each other on the screen in silence, unsure what to talk about. Offer them a few suggestions:
- Show and Tell: Each friend chooses a favorite item and tells from where they got it and why it’s special to them.
- Room tour: Give each other a room tour. That might sound boring to an adult, but have you seen what your kids are watching on YouTube lately? If it’s not unboxing toys, or TikTok dances, it’s room tours. “Hi guys. Today I’m going to show you my room! These are my Barbies…this is my favorite one. This is where I keep all of my books. Have you read this one?”
- Classic board-less games: Charades, Pictionary, Twenty Questions, or the 1-second song game (play one second of a song and they have to guess the song)
- “I Challenge You”: For those kiddos who feel uncomfortable with the online chat concept, encourage them to send “I challenge you” videos to their friends. Whether it’s a trick shot, a wacky hairstyle, a funny outfit, or a fun TikTok-style dance, with a little parent involvement, they can film a 30 second video, send it, and challenge their friend/s to do the same in return.
- Storytime: Kids can have book clubs, too! They can agree to read the same pages from a chapter book each day and then talk about it! Or, how about storytime with grandparents?
What is your virtual chat group doing to stay connected, encouraged, and SANE? It’s a great time to get real with real friends and let your hair down. Whether your group needs a venting session or they need to have some lighthearted fun, make it your own and stay connected.