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Humans are wired “to come together physically”, which makes this whole social distancing thing a bit of a tricky issue. Since social distancing recommendations could remain in place for months to come, NPR has come up with a few effective strategies for connecting with others while maintaining your distance. You can find them below.
Don’t scroll, but do connect online with real-time activities: Simply scrolling through a Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram feed may not help you connect with other people in a meaningful way. So instead of cultivating that empty FOMO (fear of missing out) feeling, use the power of virtual platforms to connect more intentionally, more deeply. Start by asking yourself: What matters to you? Do you have a hobby you’d like to resurrect or take up for the first time? A whole world of online, live-streamed classes has opened up, from ceramics to languages to bread-making. The face-to-face, real-time connections allow us to pick up on facial expressions and body language to better simulate real-world gatherings.
Making art is a social act: Express yourself and share. Looking for a place to connect with others who use art to express themselves? The UnLonely Project has created a community through its Stuck At Home Together initiative. You can watch a short film, then participate in an online conversation. You can view others’ art or share your own. And for motivation to get started, the group has designed creative challenges, like crafting a self-portrait from objects around the house.
Reach out to the elderly: In Miami, one program called Papa Pals is matching elderly adults with younger people, who are paid to hang out with elderly people virtually. Another program for seniors, Live a Dream, collects video montages to brighten a senior’s day. Young people can submit a short video to share. You can tell a joke, play an instrument, or just give some encouraging words.
Become a citizen scholar: Does the idea of becoming a citizen scholar sound intriguing? The Smithsonian has digital volunteer opportunities. For instance, “citizen scholars are invited to transcribe historic documents including diaries and working papers of prominent Americans,” according to the Smithsonian website. VolunteerMatch, a database of volunteer opportunities has a searchable site for virtual volunteering, with thousands of postings around the country, calling for all kinds of skills from tutoring kids to making face masks. You can find more options at Idealist.org.
Keep friendships alive, with small acts of kindness: Sometimes, a small gesture can help you reconnect. Even though we can’t bake together, think about dropping off some cookies to a friend. Ask your neighbor if you can pick up some grocery items for them on your next trip. Organize a puzzle or game swap. Whatever it is, just the act of doing something for a friend is a fantastic way to nourish a friendship and reconnect.