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How to Connect During Quarantine--By Nina Gerardi

With campus closed and many families practicing social distancing, face-to-face social interactions have been scarce, if not nonexistent. Many students have been trying to stay in touch by any means possible, even partaking in socially-distanced drive-bys near friend’s homes for a mere glimpse of what once was. With friends eager to hang out, technology has become an important and very popular way of staying connected these days.

“There’s a lot more people who are online more than they used to be,” senior Sakina Rashid said. “I feel like I’m also online more often.”

For many, technology comes with its fair share of difficulties: Wi-Fi routers often don’t cooperate, sarcasm is commonly misinterpreted through text, lagging screens don’t seem to be going away any time soon, etera.

“I like in-person better, but there’s not really much I can do about that . . .” senior Nicole Eckard said. “[In-person is] just easier to communicate.”

As there isn’t much we can do to combat some of these difficulties, having technology nevertheless is probably better than not having technology at all. Technology often ensures faster and more efficient communication. According to Rashid, though it’s nicer to meet in person, she’s still thankful for technology’s conveniences.

“I’m glad we have [online communication] so that we can keep in touch a lot more easily,” Rashid said.

Technology also provides a variety of ways to spend time with friends. Free programs like Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts and Facetime offer opportunities for things like “face-to-face” calls, instant messages and screen sharing. Programs like Discord are chat programs for gamers and many other crowds.

Google also has software called Google Duo, which is free and works across both iOS and Android; consequently, people who don’t have Facetime because they have an Android can use this application to keep in touch.

And, of course, regular texting and phone calls also provide great opportunities to communicate.

While regular chit chat is common among these forums, technology isn’t just limited to talk. The Los Angeles Times, for example, suggests using programs that have “face-to-face” features for activities like karaoke, yoga, game night and book club.

There are also games online that students can play with one or more friends. Apart from the classics like Mario Kartnow online and ready to play with friendsthere are many apps like GamePigeon that have games like Crazy 8’s and Sea Battle (a form of Battleship) that people can play together. Pictionary, Kahoot and Words with Friends are some other options.

“We play this thing called Scribble,” Rashid said, “which is like online Pictionary.”

If friends don’t want to play games, there are various platforms that allow screen sharing, which can give friends the opportunity to access the same website concurrently, watch movies or shows together, etc. As mentioned previously, Zoom has a screen-sharing feature that allows more than one user to interact on the same screen. According to SocialMediaToday, Instagram is adding a new “Co-Watching” feature that allows people to scroll through an Instagram feed together over video chat in real time.

Additionally, there is a program recently developed called Netflix Party, which is a Chrome extension that allows users to sync their Netflix streams so everyone can watch the same show or movie simultaneously on different screens. Along with synchronizing playback, Netflix Party also adds a group chat for discussion among the viewers.

“Sometimes we use Netflix Watch Party, and we just watch together,” Eckard said.

Technology may be more accessible than ever nowadays, and in trying to find a way to find company, there are many options to choose from. Though bugs and malfunctions may be inevitable, we still have the chance to socialize from afar. According to Rashid, social distancing has actually made her social life expand to people she doesn’t normally talk to.

I feel like I’ve been talking to more of my friends than I used to,” Rashid said. “. . . A lot of my friends [had] either moved out of state or [I] just didn’t see at school as much anymore . . . Because of quarantine, I feel like a lot of us are reconnecting because I’m talking to everyone online anyways.”

In these difficult times, students can still be connected, sometimes even more so than before.


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