Staying Social During Shelter in Place

Jon Fesmire | April 2, 2020 @ 5:16 PM

How are you handling shelter in place? If you’re finding it tough, you’re not alone. Recently, we covered lots of things you can do by yourself or with your family, or roommates, during this unique and challenging situation.

You’ve heard it before, that humans are social creatures, which makes social distancing tough. Here’s the thing, though. Let’s try to think of it as physical distancing instead. We can still be social, we just have to do so at a distance.

Fortunately, we live in the age we do, where it’s possible to stay connected with others even when self-isolating, and without outrageous long-distance phone fees. This would have been so much tougher in the 80s! Here are some ways we’ve found to stay in touch with others during shelter in place.

Social Media Accounts

This is the one that most of us are defaulting to. Many people use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and similar services daily. They allow us to share what we’re doing with our friends and see what our friends are up to. This is a good start. You can respond to your friends’ posts and they can respond to yours. You can joke, debate, and gripe about our current circumstances. Hey, we can all use the opportunity to vent.

Video Conferencing

Most of the following entries are going to rely on video conferencing software, so let’s cover that now. These apps allow you to have video calls with your friends, often many of you at once. Popular options include Skype, GoToMeeting, Zoom Meetings, BlueJeans, and Google Hangouts.


Whether you have a weekly meetup from the actual site or some other regular gathering, it’s time to move it online. This is an opportunity to see what that’s like if nothing else! Fan groups of all sorts are now doing online meetings where they can discuss things they enjoy. Writers’ groups can read and critique each other’s work, book clubs can discuss their current reading, and so on.


Yes, it’s even possible to date during shelter in place, and some sites, including Match and OK Cupid, are encouraging it. Think about how much money, and time, this can save you, not to mention how many more interesting people you can meet over Skype or Zoom on your computer. Then, if you really like someone and develop a relationship, you’ll be able to meet in person when this is finally over.

And why confine your dates to people you might be romantically interested in? Take the opportunity to make some new friends as well. You can even suggest to friends on Facebook or other social networks that you could hang out for a bit virtually, perhaps having dinner at the same time, together.

Netflix and Chill

What, isn’t this something you do a home? Yeah, back in January, maybe. Now, with the Netflix Party extension for Chrome, you can sync your video stream with a friend’s and binge your favorite show together. Full instructions are on the Netflix Party website. You you can Skype or Zoom at the same time and enjoy each other’s reactions.

Have a Play Date

Shelter in place is tough on kids, too. Your kids may be missing their friends. So, why not host a virtual playdate? There are even programs that let your children do this on PC, Mac, or tablet, including Caribu, Messenger Kids, and Marco Polo. Just monitor your children’s playdates, as you would if they had friends over to visit.

Play TRPGs Online

Long gone are the days when Dungeons & Dragons was seen as a game just for geeky teen boys. Now a lot of people play, including popular celebrities. Geeks are now huge cultural influencers, and thank goodness, because we can all play the best tabletop role-playing games (TRPGs) at a distance. Check out some of the programs that make this possible, including Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, and Astral, and use them in conjunction with your teleconferencing software.

Workout Together

Got a Yoga group, or just a workout buddy? You can’t meet in person during this period, but you can via video conferencing. Just point your screen, and camera, toward your exercise area, connect with your pals and do your exercises together.

Try Some Online Games

Playing video games online is nothing new, but if you have the extra time, you might want to give it a try. Games like Fortnight, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch allow you to work together or play competitively with other players, friends included.

With these suggestions in mind, we’re sure you’ll be able to come up with other ideas, based on what you and your friends enjoy doing together. The point is, much of it can be done via teleconferencing. In time, things will get back to something approaching normal. For now, we can still enjoy each other’s company at a distance.