Tips for staying connected online while social distancing

Last Updated May 2020
By Allen Foster

Humans are inherently social. We have a need to connect with and, more importantly, comfort each other. When you have good news, you want to share it; when you have bad news, you need support. This desire to be social is one of the reasons why we are so strong — there's strength in numbers. However, we are temporarily living in a world with necessary restrictions that have been dubbed "social distancing."

Loneliness is far more than feeling a little blue. In difficult times, such as those we are currently experiencing, it's even more vital that we stay closely connected with each other in order to stay well, both emotionally and physically. But how do we do that when staying home is keeping our communities safe? Following are some answers.

 

Checking in on your loved ones online

Phrases like "social distancing" and "isolation" only add to the fear in these already uncertain times. To get through this, we need to be secluded from one another, yes, but not separated. Thanks to technology, we can check in on our loved ones, stay connected, and remain social without needing to do it in person.

If a phone call to your parents isn't practical or safe because you're too busy wrangling your own kids, texting is the way to go. When you wake up to a cheery "Good morning!" with an abundance of smiley face emojis, it can put you in a victorious mood for the entire day. Likewise, a thoughtful "Goodnight" can help alleviate fears and provide comfort to your loved ones at bedtime. If your message requires a little more thought than a quick, "Hi, how's your day going?" email may be the better choice because email allows you the time to digest a longer message and reply with a deeper sentiment.

 

Online therapy options if you are feeling lonely, isolated, or depressed

Undoubtedly, the next few weeks are going to be hard. Staying connected through texts, emails, phone calls, video calls, and social media can help, but there may be times when that doesn't seem like enough. If you feel lonely, isolated, or depressed, there is help. You can receive online care from a professional. Whether it is through your own provider, a service such as BetterHelp, or an Employee Assistance Program, it is important to check with your employer to learn precisely which type of online therapy is covered.

 

Video chat with friends and family members

Although the immediacy and convenience of sending a quick text or composing a lengthy email can go a long way in helping to keep you and your loved ones connected, a great deal of emotion can be lost when using this method. Humans communicate as much with tone, facial expressions, and gestures, as with words. When you want to have a more fulfilling social interaction, it's time to enhance your experience by adding audio and video.

If you own any Apple products, like an iPhone, an iPad, or a Mac, you already have a way to make a video call. FaceTime is one of the most user-friendly options available — a single tap is all that is required to connect. If you or the person you are calling doesn't have access to an Apple product, there are a number of other apps you can use. Some of the more popular ones are Skype, WhatsApp, and Google Hangouts. Whatever operating system you prefer, whatever device you have, rest assured — there is a way to connect with one or several friends at a time using audio and video.

 

Staying in touch with coworkers

Staying connected with a coworker may come with a different set of rules than having a casual conversation with a friend. If you need to communicate with a coworker about work matters, be sure to follow the company's preferred approach to accomplishing this task.

 

How to stay connected through social media

Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media apps nearly all have a built-in way to connect one-on-one or in groups. Additionally, they all feature ways of posting or live streaming content to your friends and followers. If you are a musician, or any other type of performing artist, for example, you can deliver a live concert from your living room. 

The subtle difference between using social media and a dedicated communication app, such as FaceTime, is understanding the nuances of each social media platform. TikTok, for instance, is for uploading short, random bits of humor while Instagram is best reserved for reinforcing your personal brand. By contrast, Facebook is typically the platform used for sharing nostalgia amongst people who share a common bond, usually one that was forged during childhood. The likes and conversation threads that begin after making a post on various social media platforms serve an important role in maintaining a much-needed sense of community.

 

Conclusion

Although we may just be entering the initial stages of what could be a lengthy period of maintaining physical distance from our coworkers, friends, and family, we can stay connected by utilizing the resources outlined in this article. Each and every person who practices social distancing during these unprecedented times is a hero; though it is difficult, it is necessary. We may be separated by distance, and shaken by our fears, but our situation unites us and together we can stand confident and strong, knowing that we are not alone and we will persevere.