Updated: Apr 2, 2020
How can we connect when we can't go out? I'm sharing what I use, what I see, and what thirteen-year-olds are using (the children are the future, are they not?).
So...confession. I am what's called an "extroverted introvert," which means I present as charming and outgoing, and then shock and disappoint you with my desire to stay home, actually use my hotel room on vacation, and pickiness about where I go and who I spend time with. My energy levels can literally change based on my environment and conversations.
So that means, during this (now extended) Stay At Home Order, I'm like:
BUT homebodies need love too! While I am so grateful to NOT have to deal with people that frankly exhaust me, I have found myself, after my rounds of rest, self-reflection, and self-care are complete, craving the good energy of the people I love, miss and actually want to be around.
But how? And how now? I hate talking on the phone. It's so limiting. So I checked in with the planet's experts on constant communication (whether it is allowed or not).
Here is what I currently use:
1. FaceTime: iPhones only for this one y'all. Ok, this one is the highest in rotation right now because I am checking in with family and friends, and we were already using this one before "The Distancing." What I like about FaceTime is that you can invite several people into the call and see them at once. We've done tours, fashion shows, secret health checks and meals together this way. You can also do weird things like this:
2. SMS and MMS Text: Another oldie but goodie, BUT it can be fun to use the GIFs feature to boost your communication here. SMS stands for Short Messaging Service and MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service. One of my good friends and I use primarily Rihanna Gifs to express our deepest emotions.
I also use the Memoji feature and speak using a cartoon of myself or a unicorn talking and it's fun.
3. GroupMe: I use this text app with the parents of my daughter's Pre-K 4 Class. GroupMe is helpful if you want to maintain the conversation in one community about one topic, event or time period. It's primarily a texting app, there is a Direct Message feature and you can upload links, pictures and video. It's free and super easy to use. I have only used it on the phone and can be used with Android or iPhone.
4. WhatsApp: I like WhatsApp because we have friends who live in different countries and on different continents right now and we can talk to them in real time with no weird numbers or costs. You can create groups and talk in the group, jump in the direct messages for side-convos, and drop links, GIFs, react to what others are sharing and coordinate video calls. Also it's FREE (for now). Also, every time I use it, I sing "What's Up With You," a 90's classic by Eddie Murphy and Michael Jackson.
5. Zoom: So we used the WhatsApp to coordinate the Zoom call. I like to use Zoom because it's reliable, consistent and easily connects with other apps, like your calendar, for instance. I use Zoom professionally, of course, and we're hosting my daughter's class for Show 'N Tell and a dance party. Zoom allows for more control and a better virtual party. I'm seriously considering buying stock, I use it so much! There is a free version that limits your conversation to 40 minutes. I have a Pro Account and I have unlimited call time.
A few things you can do here that are unique:
Talk to 100 people at once,
Change the background of your image,
"Pin" your image to make it the only thing that can be seen,
Show films directly from Dropbox links,
Chat with as few or as many people as you want in the chat feature
Share your screen for collaboration or just look at stuff together
Use the Whiteboard feature for drawing and games
Use it on laptops, phones and smart devices
There is a lot more you can do, but I'm starting to sound like Flo From Progressive.
6. My sister (who is always on that NEW NEW) told me and my husband to download HouseParty (it's an App) and Oh MY GOD! It is so fun. It merges pop-culture games, FaceTime and social networking features so that you can play with your friends and see them while you play. Virtual double dates and group hangs abound! You can also join games that are already happening with people you know and use their chat feature as well. This is helps if you are playing with a group and need to say something that can't be said out loud. You know what I'm saying.
I also try to get my friends to take breaks and play with me. It's free, fun, and you will love it. Just make sure your internet connection is decent. It doesn't replace the real thing, but it's just my type of hype baby (that's a House Party reference for you babies)!
7. SLACK: I started using SLACK as apart of an online course called AltMBA and it was so easy to do teamwork stuff: communicate, share documents and get up to speed. No more searching emails, being betrayed by online servers and searching for phone numbers and emails you know you didn't save. SLACK allows you to chat, post, and share information and it all stays in one place. You can use it on your computer or smart device. I use it more professionally and find that it helps to build community.
I asked a brilliant, innovative teenager how she and her friends do it and she shared the following ones with me. Are y'all ready for this? (Parents take note)
8. Google Slides: When those smartie-pantses are working together on group projects, they use Google Slides like a party line. They share videos and pics and use the comments feature like a social media platform.
9. Microsoft Teams: Ok, this one needs to be called Microsoft TEENS! It combines all the features of different apps into one platform for great collaborative work, right? Well for quaran-teen-agers, they are able to use it like Facetime, Text, Zoom, YouTube, and more. So while some homework may be happening, it's a whole 'nother level of socializing. Try it and see how you like it for family gatherings and friend-group check-ins.
10. Have a Netflix Party! I have not tried this yet, and I plan to. This seems so fun! You can watch films or shows with friends and it will synchronize playback. It gives you all time to pause what you're watching, talk, react and goof off together and then hit play!
There you have it folks. We may not be able to go out but we can let others in. Find your charger cord and happy connecting!
About the Author: I'm Danielle Fanfair! I'm a writer, consultant, and curator of integrated well-being. I created a curriculum called Confusion to Clarity and I'm certified in the Enneagram (I love it) and I teach corporate workshops, work one-on-one with individuals, families and groups, and I'm currently serving as the Executive Director at the Hines Center for Spirituality.