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Creative Ways to Stay Connected Virtually

October 27, 2020  |  Category: Articles

Written by Dylan Shelton

 

As we approach the coming months, it is becoming more apparent that this holiday season will be unlike any other. An unprecedented pandemic has presented us with challenges we were unaware existed, and as a result, the human need for social interaction and maintaining close-knit relationships has been highlighted. Now more than ever do we realize the power of communication, family, and friends.

However, as is true with many negative events, there is a silver-lining and a positive message. Even though our current circumstances may be different, and traditional plans may have to change, the spirit of the holidays can still thrive and be celebrated. The joy and closeness one feels with their family and friends can still be achieved. Technology and social media have offered us a way of staying close no matter the physical distance between us.

Here are some ways all of us can use technology to stay connected and feel whole:

Video Conferencing

Perhaps the most popular way to remain social while socially distancing is through video conferencing software and platforms. Video conferencing platforms offer endless ways to stay in touch: virtual birthday parties, Netflix watch parties, gym classes, Zumba, game nights, virtual paint nights, and graduation parties are just a few creative examples of how to stay in touch via virtual media.

Zoom

At this point most everyone is familiar with Zoom. Whether for work meetings, school, or just to talk, Zoom is a free video conference software that allows users to create meetings quickly and easily.

  • Pro:  Zoom is seamless to use, can host up to 100 participants, and does not require any downloading (unless you are using Zoom from your phone or tablet, in which case you must download the app).
  • Con:  Zoom faces connection issues from time to time, as do all platforms. Additionally, Zoom does not hold a reputation as the most secure option (there have been rumored hackings, “Zoom bombings,” etc.), so we recommend avoiding Zoom when discussing sensitive matters. The free version of Zoom also has time limit considerations.

Google Hangouts

Google hangouts is a video conferencing software available for all those who have Gmail accounts.

  • Pro:  Google hangouts is free and does not require users to download software.
  • Con:  Google hangouts is available only to those who have Gmail accounts. Additionally, a maximum of 25 people can participate in a video call at once.

Facebook Messenger Rooms

Messenger Rooms is Facebook’s video conferencing platform. It is available free to all who have Facebook Messenger installed.

  • Pro:  Messenger Rooms can host up to 50 people on a single call, is free to use, and holds no time limit on calls.
  • Con:  This platform is only available to those who use Facebook, so relatives or friends who do not have a Facebook account cannot participate.

Social Media

For a large portion of us, social media tools (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram) are not entirely new. However, the awareness and importance of these tools have increased greatly. Social media is a convenient place to connect, message, share ideas, express thoughts and feelings, laugh, and make others laugh. However, it is important to remain safe. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid sharing personal or sensitive information to anyone (this includes instant messaging). If secure information needs to be discussed, we recommend doing so via text or phone call with a known contact.
  • Check your privacy settings! Default settings on social media are not the most secure. However, almost all social media platforms offer the option to alter what you share, who you share to, and who sees it.

Mail-Order Surprises

Everyone loves a surprise! Whether someone you know is having a birthday, the holidays are approaching, or you just want to remind that person how much you care about them, regardless of the distance between you, sending them tangibles through the mail is always a fun way to spread cheer. Here are some great options everyone would enjoy:

  • Send-a-Cake allows you to send a custom message and cake to your loved ones. Check out their various packages including explosion cakes and surprise boxes.
  • Local grocery stores, bakeries, and restaurants are also a great option to surprise loved-ones. Select that person’s favorite sweets, beverages, or food, and have it delivered to them through one of the many food delivery apps on the market (e.g. grubhub, postmates).
  • Punkpost is a unique, creative option that allows you to send greeting cards to those you care about with a unique, and personal touch. Simply pick a design, write your message, and an artist will create a one-of-a-kind greeting card for you!

Keep it Simple

While the above options are great, never underestimate the power of simplicity. Text, messages, emails, and phone calls are always appreciated. Attach a picture, send a funny video, or stay in the loop with group chats. Never forget that it’s not always about the content, but the meaning behind it!