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Staying Connected- Your Guide to FaceTime Festivities

You’re on a video call with your friends, 30 minutes have gone by and the conversation is starting to stale.  Inevitably, one of them keeps freezing because she has a poor Wi-Fi connection and you’ve asked, “Any updates? Anybody doing something fun this weekend?” in order to jump-start the conversation.

(Read this to yourself in a scary announcer voice!) How many times has this happened to you?

It’s easy to go into social-autopilot when you’re staring at a screen for hours instead of laughing face-to-face, and I’m sure many of us have related to this during quarantine.  Now that part of your go-to friend group is departing for college or they’re busy with work, it has become much more difficult to maintain the connections that used to feel so effortless. 

Countless people have had trouble, even in a pre-corona world, keeping up with friends and cultivating relationships.  I highly recommend reading, or skimming, this fabulously insightful piece called “The Limits of Friendship” that takes a deep dive into just how much ‘social capital’ the average person has.  In long distance and more local friendships, there is a key to long-term connection: “One of the things that keeps friendships strong is the nature of shared experience: you laugh together; you dance together; you gape at the hot-dog eaters on Coney Island together” (Konnikova, The New Yorker).  Speaking from personal experience, Gen Z & Millennial generations value time together more than doing actual activities together.  Despite these typical social habits, maybe experiencing new interests & hobbies with our friends is more valuable than we think.  Worry not, if you can’t social distance hang with friends in person, the facetime fairy is here to level up your video chat game and your friendships.

For the artsy crowd- Van Gogh video calls

Do your friends wear Doc Martens, listen to Frank Ocean, and love expressing themselves?  If so, it’s time to gather your brushes and a palette.  All jokes aside, you don’t need to be Picasso to enjoy a painting party/art night.  During quarantine, I held a “Gauguin Girl’s Night.” Admittedly, I came up with the name but not the concept.  Yes, I was a little bit basic and snatched the idea from my artsy friend, Elena’s, Instagram story.  Unlike Elena, I don’t own canvasses or legit acrylic paints so I grabbed my finest printer paper and watercolors and called up my friends.  We settled on a theme beforehand, and we decided to paint a surfboard wedged into the sand on the beach.  

Here’s the coolest part of this Zoom/FaceTime theme—everybody has their own take on the prompt.  If you check out this photo, my surfboard was incredibly glittery, one of my friends went with strong primary colors, and Em went rogue like the strong individual she is and made a constellation instead.  The whole point of this idea is that it’s not set in stone—you can have fun with it and practice mindfulness while doing so.  Painting or drawing with friends, even from a distance, pulls you into the moment while bringing you closer together.

Try your luck with a game night- a timeless tradition with a twist

This isn’t your mother’s board game—try edgy games like Cards Against Humanity that bring out the wild side in even your mildest friends.  I played a digital round of Cards Against Humanity with some friends a week ago and one of the best plays was this:

Prompt card: MTV's new reality TV show features eight washed-up celebrities living with________________

Somebody played the card ”The shambling corpse of Larry King.”

A little macabre, but we were all dying laughing.  Everybody’s sense of humor shines during these types of games, and you can host an infinite number of players on allbad.cards (I’d recommend a max of 10 players to keep things from getting too hectic).  Cards Against Humanity goes by a different name, All Bad Cards on that site.  Joking Hazard is another hilarious option hosted on playingcards.io.  If dark comedy isn’t for you, there are plenty of other fun, family-friendly options like skribbl.io for your artistic squad and chess on playingcards.io for the intellectuals out there.  

Powerpoint Parties- break out your Top 10 lists or deepest conspiracies

One of my dear friends decided to hold a PowerPoint party for her birthday over quarantine/lockdown.  At first I was skeptical—I had never heard PowerPoint and party in the same sentence, and both evoke very different emotions for me.  The premise is this; each friend creates their own niche presentation about anything (seriously, anything).  At the party I attended, one of the birthday queen’s friends presented a PowerPoint that ranked all the places she had gone on dates at Disney World; The Haunted Mansion ranked surprisingly high.  Another scholar presented a compelling Google Slides presentation about “Why the Minions Would Not Survive the Hunger Games.”  Riveting stuff!  Comedy presentations aside, some presenters picked topics that truly interested them.  One guy made a whole presentation about gay penguins.  His presentation was one of the most wholesome PowerPoints I’ve ever seen, accompanied by adorable penguin couple photos and impressive star-wipe transitions.  Apparently, a penguin couple in a Berlin zoo took an egg under their wings, literally.  This heartfelt egg adoption was the highlight of the PowerPoint party for me.  Another honorable mention rated RuPaul’s Drag Race Outfits, and gave me an even more intense appreciation for the art and creativity that goes into fashion & drag.  Not only did I laugh a lot at this incredibly fun Zoom event, but I learned a lot too.  It was so uplifting to see my friends take a deep dive into something they have a passion for and teach the rest of us about it.

In-person meetups and social distance hangs are tough to arrange, especially for those who are immunocompromised or who live far from friends.  FaceTime & Zoom can seem like lackluster alternatives for human interaction.  While these video chat platforms can’t replace face-to-face, they can still provide positive experiences and connections.  These apps aren’t far better or worse than meeting in person; they’re just different.  You can experiment with different activities via video call and try out new hobbies with your social circles.  So stop diving down a Netflix show hole, and set up a video call you can look forward to!  Celebrate life with FaceTime festivities and go reconnect with some friends, old and new.

Victoria Den Bleyker is a marketing specialist, social media wizard, and avid writer. She has been published in MyCorporation, Fupping, CEO Blog Nation, and countless other publications. When she’s not hibernating with her laptop, she is out on the waves and soaking in the sun at the beach.
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