As our restrictions increase, and we're slowly coming to terms with the likelihood that we are going to be staying home a lot more for the foreseeable future, our social feeds are being filled with memes about our descent into madness. While I'm sure they're all light-hearted and in jest, people seem to dread the thought of being stuck with their kids, or their partner, or heaven forbid, no alcohol.
Joking or not, the truth is our social lives are changing, as is our relationship with the world around us. Now, more than ever, we turn to the internet to help us keep in contact with friends and family.
So, if you'e one of the many people thinking about how you can connect with loved ones during isolation, you're not alone (so to speak). We thought now would be a good time to look at what some of the more forward-thinking companies and people are doing to help us avoid becoming hermits.
I'm about to show my age here, but I remember there being nothing more exciting than a sleep-over at a friend's house and heading to the local Blockbuster to rent a New Release and a $2 weekly. And while the delivery of the content may differ now, I still enjoy watching a movie with friends. It appears that Netflix feel the same way.
Netflix have released Netflix Party. This gives you the ability to sync up with friends and start a film or TV show at the exact same time. There's even a little chat window down the side. If you create the party, you can choose if you want others to be able to control play-back or keep it to yourself. So just like being in the same room, you all have to pause it when nature calls someone, or if you're watching from your mobile device, no need to pause at all! (But this: CLEAN YOUR PHONE)
Livestreaming - More vital than ever
Uses for Livestreaming are far too numerous to count. Right now, they're a brilliant way to get a taste of things you would have otherwise gone out to do.
For example, popular punk band "Dropkick Murphys" (showing my age again) streamed their annual St. Patrick's Day concert from an empty venue in Boston using YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.
Australia's own Triple J offered a bevy of virtual concerts for you to enjoy while socially distancing.
But musical performances aren't the only events people have livestreamed. Birthday parties are happening on Google Hangouts, board game nights on Zoom, and popular group party games like Jackbox are encouraging people to try playing them remotely.
Houseparty is also proving to be incredibly popular right now. While maybe not as elegant as Zoom for the conferencing, and the games not as polished as JackBox, it is pretty great and easy to setup. There"s a Pictionary type game, some Trivia with plenty of categories to choose from, and even Charades! It can handle up to 8 participants at a time too which should suit most people. There is a bit of a smear campaign against Houseparty at the moment resulting in them offering a $1 million bounty for proof of this, but there is no actual evidence supporting the claims that the app is resulting in other apps being "hacked".
Eventbrite, typically used for offline events, have created a new page that features upcoming virtual events. Just in the first few lines there are Make-Up classes, Yoga, Mental-Health classes, and even a TwerkShop. Get your booty over there and check it out.
Another great tool for group gatherings is the remote conferencing platform I mentioned above, Zoom. Traditionally used for business meetings, we're now seeing it utilised for remote education, family gatherings, and even groups of friends getting together.
Apparently more that 600,000 people downloaded Zoom in one day last week. Facebook is loaded with Zoom memes, and Instagram flooded with screen captures of Zoom meetings and unexpected appearances of children and pets (there is a difference apparently). Zoom was even the chosen platform for Club Quarantine, a virtual night club\dance party.
So, while we sadly expect things to get worse before they get better, it is important to stay positive, and keep in touch with friends and family. It might seem weird trying some of these things, but they may just be the tools we need to get through this while staying sane.
In all seriousness, from the entire Sentrian team, we wish the best for all of you and your families during these challenging times.