With millions of Americans under stay-at-home orders, cabin fever is setting in. For those feeling isolated, technology has become a bridge over social distances.
When the coronavirus shut down college campuses across the country, millions of students lost their communities overnight. Charlie Orlinsky is a senior at Columbia University in New York City. “Didn’t really get to say bye to any of my friends,” he says, “so that was kind of sad.” To keep his friends together, he hosts a nightly gathering on Zoom, where students share both heartache and laughter. “You get a little happier at the end of the day talking to your friends, which I think has been the most important part,” Orlinsky says.
For years, technology has been blamed for keeping us apart and replacing human interaction. But when even the streets of major cities like New York are abandoned, it’s technology that’s keeping people together.
People are even streaming events online. Rather than cancel their wedding, a Texas couple streamed it on Zoom. Bride Jessica Stein said, “I had full confidence the whole time we were still gonna have the wedding. It was just a matter of making, you know, major changes.”
Groups are using the Netflix Party feature to watch movies and chat at the same time. Millions are connecting with friends through live video games like Fortnite and Call of Duty.
Even entertainers are keeping the fun alive for birthday celebrations, like a “Frozen” party in the U.K. where 3-year old Victoria was a virtual guest. Victoria says, “If there’s germs crawling around you can’t go outside, so we have to stay indoors.”
When the virtual approach just doesn’t do the trick, families are finding a middle ground, making drive-by birthdays the newest trend. It might not be the best birthday, but it’s certainly one to remember.