We are living through an unprecedented time. The world has not experienced a global pandemic to this extent since the influenza pandemic in 1918 (also referred to as the Spanish flu). Federal, state, and local guidelines specify that we should stay home as much as possible and, when going out, maintain a distance of 6 feet from the next person. Adhering to these guidelines can cause some people to feel lonely and isolated. Thankfully, we’re also living an exceptional time, where advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) connect people across the globe in real-time. While we remain physically distant from our loved ones and friends, we can stay connected and maintain social connections through smart technology and applications.
People can connect with others via smartphone, computer, or tablet where Internet and/or cellular service is available. Depending on your device (Android or Apple), applications (Apps) allow individuals to video call/conference with others. Video conferencing provides an outlet for getting all together for brunch, happy hour, or for special events like birthday celebrations. These platforms allow us to remain connected and get that “face time” we need, even when we can’t gather in the same physical space. For video chatting one-on-one or in small groups, there is FaceTime for iPhone, iPad, and Mac; and Google Duo for Android devices and iOS devices. Other videoconferencing platforms include Zoom, Skype, and Webex. These platforms have their own specifications, and usually require creating an account. Many of these videoconferencing platforms are free for basic service; however, additional fees may apply for more advance features. It’s a good idea to spend some time with an application ahead of time, become familiar with its features and security settings, and make sure your profile includes only the information you want to share. If your Internet is slow or nonexistent, reach for your phone to make a connection or take pen to paper and write a letter to a friend or family member.
The TU Collaborative has a guide on Community Participation: Keeping Connected While Staying Apart that offers resources on accessing and using online resources for community participation and social connectedness, from no-tech activities (i.e., reading, coloring, puzzling, going for a walk, etc.) to high-tech options like online civic engagement, recreation, religious services, and local community and shared interest online groups/communities. This resource collection also includes information on free to low-cost communication technologies.
Those are just a few suggestions to help you make connections, even when we have to remain physically apart. Check with your local public library or independent living center for other opportunities to connect with your community. NARIC’s information specialists are also available by email, phone, Facebook, and chat to help, too.
Stay safe everyone!