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Social Distancing

Video Chatting with Friends: How to Make it Fun

Video Chatting with Friends: How to Make it Fun 1600 1067 VP Legacies

Nothing can replace hanging out in person with your friends, whether you’re gathered at a bar for a fun night out or packed into an apartment for a night full of board games. But sometimes being face-to-face just isn’t possible and you have to find innovative ways to feel that same connection with your friends to keep from feeling too alone. 

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has halted a lot of interactive activities, with bars and other “non-essential” businesses shut down. Many states are warning people to stay inside. Some even have curfews. You might feel afraid to even go to a friend’s house, even if it’s a small gathering. While being cautious is never a bad idea in these times, it’s definitely left a lot of people feeling isolated. Texting just isn’t enough. 

The solution? Learn to connect with friends even when you’re physically apart. One way to learn how to strengthen friendships from home is through VP Legacies course on VP Legacies’ course on building personal connections. Check out the course here to improve your friendships during isolation. 

Here’s a way to get started today: Video chatting! But is sitting on a webcam with your friends really going to make up for those drunken nights of Catan? Well, yes! We have a list of ideas to help make video chatting a lot of fun for you and your friends. You’ll be feeling closer to them in no time despite the physical distance. 

Play Video Games or Board Games Together

Two guys playing video games while wearing blue headphones

If you’re not used to just sitting on a webcam and finding things to talk about on your own, there’s always ice breakers like video games and board games. These activities will give you endless things to chat about while also making you feel a lot more connected to your friends than when you’re playing online with just a mic. 

Join a multi-player game like Apex Legends or Overwatch if you want to work together with your friend — or pick a game like Mario Party or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate if you want to duke it out to see who comes out on top. There’s also strategy games like Overcooked for friends that want to solve problems together without the distraction of other players. 

Board games are another fun activity to do together while on webcam. Try out sites like Board Game Arena to play popular card games and board games with friends. Have your cams at the ready so you can see your friends’ reaction when you take the card they need in Sushi Go!

By playing these games together, you’re not only having a lot of fun but building a deeper connection with your friends. You are learning how to work together and communicate when you’re on the same team. When you’re playing against each other, you’re using your knowledge of their thought process and personality to better understand how to beat them. 

Related: Social Distancing: Today’s Pandemic and Loneliness Epidemic 

Play Around with Effects

People can’t get enough of the filters on Snapchat. But what if you could see all those funny effects in real-time while chatting with your friends? That can be way more entertaining. Try out iChat or Tango to mess around with effects while video chatting with friends, from changing the color to distorting your face to even becoming another species. 

While this can definitely be hilarious enough on its own, why not make it into a game? See who can get the other to laugh first with their filter antics. Have contests where your group chat hands out awards for “Best Glow Up,” “Most Terrifying” and anything else you guys can think of. 

Another fun idea is to change your backgrounds. There’s a lot of filters and apps that allow you to change up your surroundings. Maybe you guys can all have a chat up in space. Or a creepy haunted house. Why not? 

Watch Movies Together

If you and your friends have Netflix, it might be time for a movie night! Use Netflix Party to simultaneously watch a movie or television show with your friends — and even chat with them in real-time. Let your opinion about Love is Blind’s Jessica be known! Does it matter that she’s 34? Or let your friends know you’re in tears after that argument in Marriage Story. Even better, let them see your tears by having your webcams on at the same time. See your friend laugh at The Office or throw his popcorn during Rosemary’s Baby

While this is definitely a way to be entertained together, it’s also a chance for you to connect with each other over hilarious or emotional scenes. You’ll be able to use them as inside jokes later, or even jumping points for serious topics for discussion. 

Video chatting while watching movies can be even more fun if you plan ahead of time. Tell your friends what snack you’re going to “bring” so you all have the same food at the ready. And bring some alcohol, too, if you’re over 21. No judgement! 

Chat About Current Events

It always helps to know you aren’t alone. It’s scary not knowing what’s going on out there, with all the politics and uncertainty about the economy. But VP Legacies offers a course that will help you get through the pandemic, “How to Personally Connect in the Midst of a Global Pandemic.” It offers not just ways to feel connected to your friends, but positive updates on what’s going on all over the world. Take the course and then come together to discuss it with your friends. 

Related: Social Distancing: Today’s Pandemic and Loneliness Epidemic

Start a Book Club

two friends reading at a book club 

Agree on a book you and all your friends will read over a period of time and then hold weekly video chat discussions on sections of the book. This is sure to start some lively discussions, debates, and even insight into your own life outside the pages. If you can’t go out and buy a book, try a website like Many Books that offers free novels to download, or use your Kindle to download any book of your choice. This is a great opportunity to have deep discussions with your friends and feel a real connection with them. 

On the flip side, you can host Wattpad reading parties for a less serious book experience. Get your webcams ready so you can see everyone’s nonstop laughter and painful cringes as you take turns reading some of the funniest fanfic you’ve ever come across. All of you can prepare for the virtual hangout  by finding a story of your choice to share beforehand. Or you can all go in blind, taking turns reading a page from a randomly chosen cringefest about popular celebrities, fantasy creatures and fictional characters. 

Related: How Microlearning Increases Personal Connection

Host a Lesson

All of you guys probably have your own passions and interests. Why not take turns showing them off? While everyone’s on video chat, have each friend host a presentation on something they know a lot about. This could be a step-by-step guide to finishing a certain level in a popular video game. Or maybe a course on how to bake a cake. This is a fun way to get to know your friends more while also celebrating what makes each of you awesome. 

Conclusion

Being on lockdown is scary. It can make you feel alone. But it doesn’t mean you have to be, not with video chatting technology. This allows your friends to be right in the room with you but at a safe distance while practicing social distancing. While it’s always fun to just catch up and chat, once in a while it’s fun to spice things up with some fun activities — just like you would in real life. 

And while this is all definitely entertaining and fun, these interactive activities also help you and your friends connect more than ever before. You’re learning about them in new ways, finding out new things about them, and growing an appreciation for them every time you video chat. 

If you’re still feeling a bit down during isolation, VP Legacies has the solution to feeling more engaged and connected with your friends. Learn how to keep building deep and meaningful connections with your friends with one of our many courses.

Man looking out of window

Social Distancing: Today’s Pandemic and Loneliness Epidemic

Social Distancing: Today’s Pandemic and Loneliness Epidemic 1350 900 VP Legacies

From Internet memes to local news reports, the phrase “social distancing” has taken center stage following the government’s recent measures to address the COVID-19 outbreak. On March 15, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines instructing that “for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 10 people or more throughout the United States” and that “events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.”

In response to the outbreak, the NBA has halted its 2020 season, popular events such as Austin’s SXSW Festival have been canceled or postponed, and a number of large workforces, such as Twitter, have mandated that their employees work from home. But social distancing seems to have developed beyond just avoiding large group gatherings and coworkers at the office. In an effort to avoid COVID-19 infection and prevent viral spread, many find themselves secluded at home without the support of social interaction. Here at VP Legacies, we help you find methods of meaningful connection while staying safe at home.

What Is Social Distancing?

The CDC defines social distance as the act of “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.” The CDC doesn’t strictly define “congregating” but has offered some examples of congregate settings: educational institutions, workplaces, mass gatherings, and detention facilities..”

The University of Chicago Emergency Management Program calls social distancing “a public health safety intervention used to reduce the likelihood of transmitting communicable disease.” And Harvard Medical School’s Coronavirus Resource Center categorized social distancing as a step taken to mitigate the impact of the illness: “social distancing…refers to actions taken to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease. For an individual, it refers to maintaining enough distance between yourself and another person to reduce the risk of breathing in droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In a community, social distancing measures may include limiting or cancelling large gatherings of people.”

Woman wearing surgical mask

Though definitions of social distancing differ slightly across various outlets, the general idea is the same. In the face of a global pandemic, humans are called upon to limit the spread of COVID-19 by maintaining distance from other people and avoiding large gatherings. Work from home practices, online conferences, and meetings are our new reality for the indefinite future.

Related: How To Personally Connect In the Midst of A Global Pandemic.

Why Social Distancing?

Why, many ask, must we practice social distancing at a time when connection and community might matter more than ever? The World Health Organization offers a straightforward answer to why we need to maintain a distance from people around us: “When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.” In the case of a communicable disease, one that is easily transferred from one person to another, health experts stress that social distancing can limit the exposure of bacteria and infectious disease to the rest of the community. 

 Flatten the curve infographSource: CDC

In exploring the necessity of social distancing, another catchphrase has emerged: “flattening the curve.” From an epidemiological standpoint, flattening the curve means taking actions that slow the spread of a viral infection so that the rate of cases and health effects on a population is spread out over time, thereby reducing the impact and demands on the healthcare system and other related industries. Social distancing is one means of flattening the curve, as well as “shelter in place” orders that local governments have enacted to slow the rate of infection.

Social distancing can protect vulnerable groups from infection as well. Studies on the first 17 deaths resulting from COVID-19 infection in China showed that the median age of those patients was 75 years old. Immunologists have also communicated that individuals with pre-existing conditions, such as high blood pressure and cardiopulmonary disorder, may be more susceptible to any illness, including COVID-19. As we learn more about the effects of the virus on the world’s population at large, social distancing has become an act of respect, care, and protection to the people around us, especially high risk groups such as the elderly or immunodeficient. 

Who recommends social distancing?

Federal agencies, including the White House, CDC, U.S. Department of Labor, and the Department of Homeland Security as well as state government agencies are recommending social distancing to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infection.             

Beyond a national level, the World Health Organization as well as experts across the globe have studied and are encouraging social distancing during the pandemic outbreak. From mathematicians to specialists in infrastructure and behavioral design to public health officials, social distancing has been touted as an effective means of containing the viral spread. 

How can social distancing protect you?

Social distancing is a virus containment method that can substantially reduce attack rates and protect you and your community from widespread infection. The outbreak has already put a strain on the nation’s economic resources and healthcare facilities. Active measures to participate in social distance will help not only the economy and healthcare industry, but bring business and resources flowing back into the communities once COVID-19 is contained.

Related: Stay protected and connected all at once with VP Legacies.

How has social distancing worked in the past?

The chart below compares the death rate in two different cities during the 1918 pandemic that wiped out one-third of the world’s population (that’s an estimated 500 million people) within a year of the outbreak.

Chart comparing death rates in St. Louis and Philadelphia in 1918Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences            

 During the outbreak of the 1918 pandemic, also known as the “Spanish flu,” local governments varied drastically in their methods of containing the outbreak. The city of Philadelphia experienced cases of influenza as early as September 17, 1918 but downplayed the gravity of the situation and did not take measures to enforce non-pharmaceutical interventions (such as social distancing, school closures, and shelter in place ordinances) until October 3, 1918. Philadelphia even proceeded with a city-wide parade on September 28, 1918, of which almost 200,000 people attended.                       

 As a result, by the time social distancing, cancellations of mass gatherings, and school closures were enacted on October 3, 1918 in Philadelphia, the city’s healthcare and public health resources were already overburdened by a surfeit of flu cases that amounted to 217 deaths out of 100,000 people per week.       

Compare this to the city of St. Louis, where first instances of the flu arose on October 5, 1918. The city responded quickly and by October 7, 1918, authorities had put into place social distancing measures designed to combat viral spread.At this time, people did not have the luxury of having the online resources to help them battle the struggles of Social Distancing. 

 Luckily, the fast response paid off: the city of St. Louis’s peak death rate was only 31 deaths out of 100,000 people per week. Philadelphia’s weekly rate of death was seven times that of St. Louis. Health experts studying this data concluded that aggressive social distancing measures implemented as early as possible following the outbreak were “significantly associated with a lower rate of mortality.”

How to Practice Social Distancing

The CDC, World Health Organization, and various health experts have been forthcoming with advice on how to practice social distancing. Some general advice for individuals, families, and businesses are:

  • Distancing yourself from others if you think you’ve been exposed to the virus
  • Isolation and quarantine of those that are already ill
  • Avoid coming in contact with those who may have been exposed to the virus
  • Cancel sporting events and other events of 10 people or more 
  • Stay home if you’re sick, except to seek medical care
  • Avoid unnecessary travel and large social gatherings of 10 people or more
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds according to proper hygiene standards after touching frequently used items or coming into contact with someone who is sick
  • If working in proximity to others, attempt to keep a distance of approximately six feet from the nearest person during work

Social distancing may even apply to contact with a family’s beloved pet. Harvard Medical School advises the following when it comes to our four-legged pals: “There have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, but the CDC still recommends that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a face mask.”     

Find out ways to stay personally connected with friends and colleagues even while practicing social distance. Check out VP Legacies’ course here.

Hand washing

Potential Emotional Effects of Social Distancing

Knowing social distancing helps to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 infection is one thing, but how do we as a society adjust to limited social interaction? There is no question that along with a pandemic of global proportions, fear and anxiety is mounting on an international level. What becomes of us as we distance ourselves in the name of virus containment while navigating an entirely new landscape of solitude, quarantine, and incessant handwashing?

Loneliness

Studies show that loneliness and isolation are serious health risks that especially affect older adults. As older adults are already at higher risk of infection, the effects of social distance upon this population are worrying. But it’s not only older folks who might suffer from social distancing. Cigna reported loneliness as an epidemic as early as 2018, before COVID-19 took root, noting that nearly half of 200,000 adults experience loneliness and the youngest adults in the group were the loneliest of all. 

Various medical studies show that both women and men who are socially isolated had double the mortality rate compared to those who were more socially integrated. More immediately, loneliness can lead to depressive symptoms, impaired immunity, higher rates of need for emergency medical treatment, and impaired optimization of positive emotions. 

Loss of energy

Though staying home all day sounds like a restful experience, an extended lack of social integration can actually lead to an overall loss of energy. Lack of social interaction has been found to cause fatigue, lowered quality of sleep, and increased cortisol responses upon awakening, which can lead to starting the day with a high level of stress. This can cause a person working from home to crash and burn a lot quicker than one who is working amongst social peers.

Reduced productivity

Loss of energy and loneliness leading to depression and a lowered immune system can likely contribute to reduced productivity, whether at a job or on personal projects at home. Whether a loss of friendly support causes illness, depressive symptoms, or general fatigue, these are all factors that inhibit a healthy level of productivity. Supporting medical studies show that “even minor levels of depression symptoms were associated with decrements in work function.”

How to Personally Connect in a World of Social Distancing

In light of distressing pandemic news flooding media outlets and people waiting out the storm alone at home, how can we battle loneliness, loss of energy, and lowered productivity? The good news is, unlike those who suffered from the 1918 pandemic, we have technology to stay connected during this challenging period. If you’re already battling bouts of loneliness, learn more about VP Legacies’ course, How To Personally Connect In the Midst of a Global Pandemic, here.

Woman talking on phone

Stay in touch over the phone

Smartphone technology is something we can take advantage of when feeling isolated or lonely. With the help of 4G connectivity and apps like Whatsapp and WeChat, isolated people across the world can stay connected and check on each other’s well being with the touch of a button. Facetime calls and group text chats are all helpful in maintaining a sense of community during social distancing.

Send check-in emails

The ease of sending e-mails is another means of communicating regularly with loved ones. Regular check-ins with friends and relatives can provide a meaningful connection that is sorely needed during this lonely time. 

Join Online Classes or Take a Virtual Course

Isn’t there something you’ve always wanted to learn but “never had the time?” Well, the time is now. Drawing, singing, and music lessons are available online and a creative outlet can help you express and release what you’re feeling now. Master classes for many subjects are popular as well, including scriptwriting and cooking. Many yoga and other fitness programs can be accessed remotely and are designed for you to do at home. Or take an online course to ramp up your skills at work. VP Legacies’ Elearning courses help you develop your personal and professional connection skills while connecting with caring instructors and classmates.

Share Your Expression

Did you create something beautiful during all those hours spent at home? Got a song to sing, a poem to read aloud, or a meditation practice that can help others? What about that article or video you’ve been wanting to post online? Here’s your time to shine. The world could really use your voice now that we’re in dire need of stimulation and inspiration. 

Hold training sessions and meetings online

Meaningful connections with work colleagues and business partners can also help you maintain a sense of purpose and productivity rather than languishing alone at home. For a culture that spends five out of seven days at work, many are left wondering “what happens if I don’t go to work?” Meeting and learning online may be a solution for those that find themselves worrying about how to spend their time while socially distancing themselves from the workplace. For more ways to connect meaningfully online, check out VP Legacies’ communication capabilities here.

Conclusion

Woman working on laptop from home

Without a doubt, we live in uncertain times right now. As researchers and medical professionals rush to help the sick and seek effective solutions to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, we can do our part by participating in social distancing to flatten the curve. 

But to care for ourselves and each other, we must find ways to connect and communicate with loved ones. For those who find themselves in solitude, it can be helpful to learn ways to establish connections online. To ensure those connections are resonant and meaningful, check out VP Legacies’ course on Personal Connection 101

Whether through phone calls, e-mails, or other forms of online communication, we owe it to ourselves to stay connected. Our health and well-being depend on it. 

    coworkers looking at a laptop

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