Amid a federal issuance of social distancing guidelines and orders across many cities for residents to “shelter in place,” people are having to quickly adjust to our new (thankfully temporary) normal. No more gatherings, picnics, playdates or dinners out for the time being.
Yet, while our physical connection is severely curtailed, communities are finding creative ways to remain virtually connected.
Not surprisingly, people are taking advantage of the internet (90% of adults in the U.S. use the web) and a multitude of apps and platforms to connect with their family, friends, and neighbors—even if they’re right next door. Here’s how communities are connecting while social distancing.
Facetime, Skype, and WhatsApp video are among the go-to’s for video-enabled mobile chatting. For larger gatherings, web-based Google Hangouts, Zoom and others fit the bill. All these allow users to connect virtually, even if they live in different states or countries. For families with members who must self-isolate for safety, web and mobile chats allow close family time without the risk of exposure.
Finding Each Other on Facebook
Like online chatting, Facebook is connecting families and friends now more than ever. But it also offers people the ability to reach much larger audiences and communities.
In Holbrook, Massachusetts, firefighters are using the platform to record videos of themselves reading bedtime stories and share them for parents to play for their children. Libraries are taking storytime and education online, and zoos and aquariums are bringing their animals to people’s living rooms via live streams on Facebook Live and YouTube channels.
Facebook Groups are another way that people are creating tailored communities around a specific cause, topic or interest. On the safety front, many news organizations and local authorities are using the platform to keep their communities informed and up to date on COVID-19.
Checking in Near and Far
For those who are separated from friends or family in another country, WhatsApp is a free messaging app that can help them stay in touch across oceans or continents. On the other end of the spectrum is Nextdoor, a hyperlocal platform that helps neighbors post and share information relevant to their neighborhood.
Dance Parties & PSAs
Who says people have to be in the same room to dance together? Tiktok, a new platform for creating short dance, comedy and lip-sync videos, has seen an explosion of friendly dance challenges in a time of social distancing. Families, co-workers and friends alike are using the app to break out their moves. In Louisville, Kentucky, a father and his two grown sons held a dance competition on the platform—it went viral and got almost 10 million views.
Halfway across the world, in Vietnam, TikTok users helped spread a government PSA about handwashing to many millions by turning the catchy tune into a global dance challenge. It’s gotten more than 20 million views, proving that creativity and community can help spread the word on steps we all must take to protect ourselves and each other.
By taking advantage of remote tools and technology—and adding some fun and creativity—we can stay connected to family, friends and our community while adhering to social distancing guidelines that will help flatten the curve and keep everyone safer.
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