83: 9 ways to use technology to ward off isolation
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Life can toss many situations at us that will force us to be stuck at home. It could be a long term illness, the weather, the choice to stay home more in order to save money, or many other things. Today I’ll share 9 ways that you can use technology to ward off isolation in times such as these.
*Hear this blog post as a podcast episode by pressing the triangle play button near the top of this post!*
If an isolation situation happened 100 years ago, people were isolated in the most dire sense of the word. You could only socialize with who was in the same room/house with you. If you were lucky, you could get a letter off to Uncle Joe—but it might take weeks to hear anything back.
We sometimes take for granted all the options available to us today to connect with others via technology. If we use these options for good, they can provide a positive uplifting connection in uncertain or stressful times.
Note: I know there are people who try to stay away from using too much technology. Every family is different, and certain individuals might have a hard time with how they process to much time online. I would caution you to not let fear control your choices: your kids will not automatically turn into zombies who won’t do anything else if they’re given more than the “recommended” amount of screen time. My kids are living proof of that. However, having said that, do what works for your family.
*Did I miss something? I only know what I know. If there is an app or website I missed that you think should be included, drop me a line at [email protected]*
9 Ways to Use Technology to Increase Connection:
1: Video Chat
There are many options available for video chats: Facetime, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, SnapChat, etc. I’ve seen people use these tools to have mock dinner parties, to join each other for a morning cup of coffee, or to have an evening cocktail with friends. Also, many music schools have moved to video chat type music lessons. It’s neat to see how people are making use of technology to keep their conversations going!
My favorite app for this is Marco Polo. You can do chats one on one or you can form groups where multiple people can contribute to the same chat. (Only one person can chat at a time, however.) Great way for quick, informal connection!
2: Live streams
Livestreams are easy to do on apps like Facebook or websites like YouTube, and I’ve seen a couple neat ways that people have used them to connect to each other. I’ve seen local musicians do a live stream concert from their living room (and then attach a venmo or paypal link if you want to donate some money towards the gig.) I’ve also seen a lot of churches move to live streaming recently—even my little church in my little town has started putting things out on Facebook Live.
I enjoy doing live streams on YouTube and plan to increase my frequency of them. Wondering how a YouTube live stream works? I’m on video, and you (and everyone else that’s watching) is in a live chat—you are NOT on video. I can only see what you’re typing, which means you can ask me questions or comment to what I’m saying, and I see it in real time. Subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the notification bell if you want to know the next time I’m going live. (Bonus: if you miss the live stream, it’s still recorded and you can watch the replay—although obviously, the replay doesn’t allow you to contribute to the live chat.)
3: Catch up on podcasts/YouTube/blog posts to learn a skill
If you find yourself with extra free time, why not use it to learn a skill you’ve been wanting to learn? Learn to sew, crochet, knit, bake bread, build a gate, eviscerate a chicken, butcher a pig, or make egg nog.
Having time on your hands is a great time to put those hands to good use. What kinds of things do you want to learn?
4: Check up on each other
A simple text or Facebook message or Snapchat or a phone call can do wonders for someone’s sanity! In times of stress, people worry. Mental health is important! A simple text to say hey, how are you? can make or break that moment they’re in.
And remember that in any stressful situation, especially if it’s something that affects a large part of the community, it’s important to step outside your normal. People deal with things in different ways because they are being affected in different ways. Make sure you connect with them to and find out how you can offer support.
5: Create a Facebook group (or similar set up) for your family/friends
Make it easy for family or friends to connect by giving them a one stop shop to check in. Grandma and Grandpa love to see what the kids are doing. Maybe everyone actually does want to know what you had for supper…and how you made it? Maybe a fun word association game or a nightly check in could be part of your connection? Be creative and get people involved.
6: Create a Facebook group (or similar set up) where people can post what they need
It’s great to want to help people, but be smart. This may be someone you want to keep low key, local, and/or just with people you know and trust. It’s In times of stress and panic, advertising everything you have available to help others could potentially make you a target. Remember, fear makes people do crazy things.
7: Use your Kindle
If your family or friends share a love of reading, grab the same book on Kindle—you can load the Kindle app onto your desktop, phone, or tablet if you don’t have an actual Kindle—and read through the book at the same time, sharing your thoughts online…maybe in that Facebook group you set up? Just remember, no spoilers!
8: Use that FitBit
If you can’t go out but you want to stay in shape, use your Fitbit and invite people to challenges. It’s a great way to keep each other accountable when you’re stuck at home and can’t get to the gym.
9: Write a letter
Long ago, the fact that we could deliver a letter across the country was mind blowing. It was amazing technology!
I bring this up because I have a friend who just announced that her parents are in an assisted living facility and they have been quarantined to their room for 30 days. Not just to the facility, but to their actual room. Her parents don’t use a lot of technology because of limited capabilities and their failing eyesight, but they still get excited about the mail, so she’s asking her friends to send them cards and letters.
Handwritten letters still matter, y’all.
A couple cautions in connecting through technology
First, be conscious of what you’re posting. Yes, social media can be great for sharing information but it can also be overload. Sometimes our feeds are nothing but doom and gloom. And while there is information that needs to be shared, we also need to balance that with hope and encouragement and positivity.
Secondly, while technology can be used to connect people, it can also (oddly enough) be isolating, so you need to figure out where that line is for you. Remember to take a break. Get up. Move around. Go outside. I’m not a person who is going to track how many hours you use it or have a schedule but I also understand people’s brains work in different ways. When you’re feeling stir crazy…or angry because of something you saw on social media, it’s time to shut it down for a bit.
Use technology to connect with each other!
I would love to hear your thoughts about how you are connecting through technology. If you’ve got an idea I haven’t mentioned here, feel free to drop it in the comments below, or email them to me ([email protected]). Stay connected, folks!
Links mentioned in episode 83:
It’s Not About Money…Except When it is (my frugal living book)
Rockin’ 8 Farm tries to bake my bread… funny YouTube video