The internet can help you weather the isolation of the “Stay at Home” period
Being stuck at home during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 must have been dreadful. No TV, not even radio. The only technology that might have been available was the telephone, but even the operators who manually connected the calls fell sick. A hundred years later during the present Covid-19 outbreak, things are completely different. We have big screen TVs, tablets, cellphones, desktops, laptops, WiFi, and the internet to communicate and stay in touch.
From the plethora of online opportunities, I’d like to share some that I appreciate.
Family Game Sessions
Try setting up a schedule for calling friends and family online. Every Sunday at 1:30 p.m., I use Skype to bring my family from Germany and the US together. My 88-year-old mom especially cherishes this hour of sharing and the chance to see family faces. Last Sunday, daughter Melanie organized a family game session with skribbl.io. This is like “Pictionary,” where the others have to guess what you are drawing on the screen. Combined with a Skype-session, it felt like we were sitting at the same table playing the game. For this next Sunday, she’s planning a few rounds of virtual hearts. We might even try an epuzzle sometime. Board Game lovers can keep the games going with “Tabletopia” and “Board Game Arena.” Of course, there are many games online that you can play by yourself, but playing with others will keep you socially engaged.
Don’t Forget the Value of a Good Story
If you are stuck at home alone, this might be the best time for a good long book. You can download the ebook you want online, and read it on your tablet, computer, or even cell phone. There are many free ebooks available at the moment, including a wide assortment for all ages from Amazon. The local library offers ebooks and audiobooks online.
Explore the World
You can learn something new every day. YouTube is a great source for all kinds of educational films. Music lover? The Kennedy Center uploads new shows to YouTube every day, and the Metropolitan Opera is streaming nightly. Miss going to the art museum? Check out the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, the Vatican, the British Museum, and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, just to mention a few, online. And speaking of the Smithsonian, don’t forget the Giant Panda, Lion, Elephant and Cheetah Cams at the National Zoo. Into science? You can take a virtual tour of NASA’s Glenn Research Center and Langley Center facilities, the Oxford History of Science Museum, the Museo Galileo, and the National Museum of Computing. Since you can’t go there, they’ve brought the arts and sciences to you!
Don’t Isolate — Get Involved! (Virtually, of course)
Being at home doesn’t just mean passive enjoyment, but the chance to get involved actively. Choirs, orchestras, bands, folk singers, comedy and theatre groups, dancers, and many more are sharing their art through virtual collaborations, with each person recording from their own home, anywhere in the world. Freelance artists of all kinds, including many who would have performed at the Maryland and Virginia Renaissance Faires, are sharing live videos on Facebook and accepting donations to replace lost income.
While working and playing socially distanced at home, you might want to also consider digital volunteering possibilities. One of my clients just shared information about a project that lets him “use my days in helpful and meaningful ways!” by digitizing old photographs and cemetery records for a database. Check out Virtual Volunteering on Wikipedia to see if there’s anything that interests you.
Preserve your Family History
How about scanning in family photos? As they age, their quality decreases, and once they are scanned you can share them digitally with friends and family, maybe for a genealogy project on ancestry.com. Don’t forget to back them up onto an external hard drive, as with all your files.
Remember to Protect Yourself and your Technology!
But when browsing for cool things to do on the web, be careful what you click on, even on reputable websites. It’s a common practice to add blocks all over a website which are links to other websites which might give you some news and information, but could lead to “bad stuff.” If you notice the little word “ad” in the corner of one of these, and it sounds too good to be true, don’t click. If you work remotely from home, make sure your antivirus software is up-to-date and be super cautious, so you don’t get scammed by screen message alerts or phone calls. A big company like “Microsoft” isn’t going to call you out of the blue!