10 ways to combat social distancing with a digital embrace

Today I am especially grateful for technology and the hundreds of ways it will help us get through this global challenge.

Where would we be without our family text chains that keep us connected and sane? Or our one-click access to genuine information sources around the globe? (The trick, of course, is to choose wisely. The CDC, for example, is an excellent source, as is your own state department. Wisconsinites, click here.)

Technology will allow our nation’s students to continue their studies and stay connected to teachers while we weather this bizarre period of isolation.

Here are 10 other ways we can use technology in the face of COVID-19:

  1. Do some online shopping to support local businesses. Buy your Easter and Mother’s Day presents now and get ahead of the game. My friend Cathy runs an amazing shop called Blue Moon Emporium, at which you can get all kinds of unique, artisan crafted items. She is closing the shop temporarily to keep everyone safe, but she has vowed to continue paying her employees as long as she can. You can help her and other entrepreneurs like her by shopping online or buying gift cards toward later purchases. Use your downtime wisely by checking some boutique shopping items off your list.
  2. Download music from independent artists. Musicians are not able to tour right now, and you need to stave off boredom. Increasing your playlist is a win/win. Check out some new musicians and pay a little to download their songs.
  3. Likewise, now is an excellent time to catch up on your reading. Order a book from a new author or download the e-version from your local library.
  4. Plan your next vacation. Man oh man, the travel industry is hurting right now. I’m not saying you should necessarily book anything just yet. Wait for some governmental guidance on that. But, take some time to research a place you’d really like to visit and plan your excursion. Once this virus season clears, we all need to get back out there and get moving. You don’t have to book an expensive trip. But, explore some ways for you and your family to enjoy the benefits of travel once it’s safe to do so again.
  5. Check out some online exercise options. I saw an amazing video from Greece in which a man on a rooftop led an workout session for his neighbors, who participated from their balconies. Humans really are incredible.
  6. Video chat with family and friends. It’s nice to see faces and you can use all sorts of ways to do so. I like Skype and Google Hangouts but you Apple people can Facetime as well.
  7. Share your talents. Upload videos of you singing, dancing, performing spoken word poetry, doing magic tricks. Art has inspired us through plenty of difficult times before and it can really help us now. Tony award winning actress Laura Benanti and Jennifer Garner are each offering student performers a global audience (including Lin-Manual Miranda). Just upload your video using the hashtag #sunshinesongs for Benanti and #heyjenlookatme for Garner and us regular folks will be watching too. Similarly, @sofashakespeare is a very creative endeavor that invites students to participate in a series of global, virtual Shakespeare productions.
  8. Reach out to people who might be really struggling. If you see a post from someone who requires antibacterial wipes for medical purposes, and you happen to have an extra store, maybe contact them and offer to share. We have to take care of each other.
  9. While it might not be safe in your area to visit local restaurants, you could order takeout, while that option is available. Be patient with any menu changes, though. Remember, restaurants are dealing with supply challenges as well.
  10. Think of a creative way to use social media and go for it. I have a friend that has started reading a children’s book each day via Facebook Live. Such a sweet and useful gesture. We’re all going to be looking for ways to amuse the young people in our homes so if you have any ideas, please share.

Note: The uptick in virtual meetings the virus is causing is also creating fertile ground for cybercriminals looking to hack into networks and gather information or emplace ransomware. Be extra vigilant about clicking on sites or downloading attachments and never email account information.

I hope you all stay healthy, stay vigilant and stay in touch. And, if you know of anyone else doing cool things with technology, please share.

Thank you.

It kind of feels like Spring 2020 has been postponed but we’ll get through this with a little ingenuity and a lot of patience and vigilance.
I just thought of an 11th way technology will help us through this. As items we’re accustomed to purchasing become difficult to obtain, we’re going to need to try some new recipes. That’s where online cooking videos come in handy. If you’re a great cook with a charming personality, maybe you could upload some step-by-step cooking videos like my friend Casey is doing.
I saw my first crocuses this weekend and, as always, they thrilled me. Spring 2020 might be postponed, but it isn’t canceled. We’ll get through this and then we’re going to have the sweetest summer of our lives.

4 thoughts on “10 ways to combat social distancing with a digital embrace

  1. I heard casinos were crowded over the weekend with many elderly and their walkers. Casinos should be closed.

  2. this is a world on two different agendas… wait until you hear this. A gal (she describes herself as healthcare worker) in our subdivision felt bad for the restaurants and bars having to close except for take-out — so on Wed 18, she posted she had arranged for a BBQ food truck to come to our subdivision (I have no idea of # of houses here except 293 houses on FB) and park in one of the cul de sacs Friday night (20th) — needed a headcount to advise the business. Close to 50 RSVPs reeled off by the time I got notification, so I commented “Concerned how we’re to do social distancing of 6′ ? And this looks to be more than 10 people gathering. Are we doing assigned times?” The organizer responded – “Stay 6 feet apart. If it’s crowded give it a few minutes. Be flexible and adaptable. It’s not like we have a lot of places to run off to! If everyone cooperates it’ll be fine. And maybe send one person per house to pick up orders?” The RSVPs keep pouring in — 2 hours before the truck was due, 161 had RSVPd!

    I got a front seat to this as it was on my street which led into the chosen cul de sac to park the truck. People were driving from other parts of subdivision and parking — people close by walking in with the whole family including family dogs! We had to play the TV real loud because people were parking and walking down the street so dogs wouldn’t know something going on. Kids ran around several yards playing. Many were coming back with no food, so we figured they were eating down there. It wasn’t – some complained of being in line over an hour and a half. We live three houses up from where the food truck was parked at the cul de sac. If my math is correct on social distancing, a line to a food truck should have reached our house!! Our neighbor who is supposed to be self-quarantined (a guy he works with had symptoms & everyone sent home — waiting on tests results of guy with symptoms!) was in front of his house chatting with people!!

    A few posted pics on FB (some since removed) . Needless to say, we did not attend. iHeart radio posted something about it yesterday — headline read “What Neighborhood Are You – Block Parties or Using Social Distancing?” and it was a picture of the line at the food truck! I tried to click on link to read the content but it was removed from the iHeartpage. One resident responded to the iHeart headline “Morons… not a block party. Just a bunch of take out!” Only two other families (both over 60) besides me expressed concern over this “event”. — One man put – “Normally I love BBQ, and love seeing Americas getting together at events. Seeing this again. Nice idea if there WASN’T a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. Very upset at you all for not being more responsible.” AND here is what event organizer responded: “we were supporting a small Business. We were not in each other’s spaces (except families who came together) and there was no Hugging touching etc. I feel we’re no more irresponsible than the people picking up takeout from restaurants all over…I’m a healthcare worker and very pro flattening the curve.. but I stand by us supporting this business!”

    I’m afraid with attitudes such as this organizer and the rest of my subdivision, we are fighting a losing battle. 🙁

    1. This is a very disappointing interpretation of social distancing. I’m glad you stayed safe. We have to figure out how to safely support local businesses without endangering everyone else.

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