At a time when seemingly all we’re hearing is bad news, staying positive and happy is getting much harder. Quarantine has caused anxiety and depression rates to spike, leading to both short and long term mental health problems. However, the pandemic has also introduced many new ways of staying connected amidst social distancing and worldwide lockdowns. With much of the world’s population required to spend time apart, human connection — even if it may be in the form of virtual connection — is more important than ever.
The pandemic has given rise to a lively online gaming community. Among Us, a multiplayer deduction game based on the party game Mafia, has become increasingly popular as it allows players to connect and interact with one another in a virtual “whodunit”. Many ISM students have found the game to be enjoyable and have hosted sessions with friends as a way to take their mind off school work or as a bonding activity for clubs like SHS and grade level councils.
Sophomore Dylan recounts that he first started playing the game after being invited to a Discord server with a few of his close friends. This server has grown to “over 60 people and there are game sessions held every night.” Dylan thinks that Among Us, “is not just a game, it’s a lifestyle, a testament to the level of social connectivity that humans strive for.” It has allowed him to get closer with his peers, especially through the “spicy debates going on daily,” which happen during the game. He believes that “Among Us has been a bright spot in the seemingly dull abyss of 2020, and through it [he has] been able to meet new people, cement old relationships, and make a lot of good (and bad) memories.”
Online workout classes
Sadly, workout studios are likely to be among the last establishments to open up once lockdown restrictions are lifted. However this does not seem to have stopped gyms from finding ways to make fitness classes accessible to individuals at home. From yoga to cycling to boxing, Manila-based studios like Urban Ashram, Saddle Row, and Flyweight now offer online classes to give gym-goers the opportunity to stay fit and counter stress through the release of endorphins!
Video calling apps
Proven to be significantly better for your mental health than phone calls, video calls allow participants to feel more emotionally connected, therefore less lonely. While a multitude of video communications software exists, such as Facetime, Skype, and Houseparty, one company stands out. Before the global stay-at-home orders were put into place, the now almost-essential teleconferencing app “Zoom” was unheard of. These days, Zoom is used for everything from online classes, family gatherings, and even birthday parties!
Fellow Sophomore Joaquin says he misses the social aspect of school, explaining that, “talking to one another, during lunch, breaks, and even during class is one of the things I miss most about in-person class.” He adds that “now that classes have moved online, we don’t get as much time to socialize and talk to friends about things other than school, which forced us to find alternative ways to communicate like through Zoom, Skype, or Discord,” which he says are “probably the next best thing to talking face-to-face.”
Movie and TV streaming
Watching movies in the cinema with friends is another one of the weekend social activities that have, unfortunately, been deemed unsafe. But leave it to Netflix to create a solution for this. Teleparty, formerly called Netflix Party, was launched this March, just days after lockdowns began. The Google Chrome extension synchronizes video playback and adds group chats to not just Netflix, but Disnely Plus, Hulu, and HBO as well, essentially recreating the experience of sitting in a movie theatre, while keeping all participants safe.
Only time can tell when we will all be able to safely resume these activities. For now, thanks to technology, we don’t have to give up social interaction entirely. Hopefully, once COVID-19 is no longer a threat, we will be able to more fully embrace the experiences and connections that do not require the use of a screen.