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Many of us baby boomers had active and social lives before the coronavirus pandemic abruptly interrupted our routines. With social distancing and quarantine to help curb the spread of the virus, it’s easy to feel lonely, isolated and depressed. What can we do?

Just because we can’t be physically together doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected and socialize safely – which isn’t too difficult, thanks to technology. We still manage to have fun instead of wasting away here in Coronaville.

If you’re not up to date with the latest virtual socializing help offers, here are a few options:

* If you haven’t started using Zoom yet, it’s pretty amazing and allows you to host up to 100 people. On a budget? They have a free plan that allows you an unlimited number of meetings as long as you don’t keep each meeting longer than 40 minutes.

* Houseparty is a free app that allows eight people to make a video call at a time. You will find fun activities to do with your friends once you sign up. For example, you can play games such as entertainment trivia games or play music.

* Marco Polo allows you to send messages that only last a few seconds. But unlike Snapchat, the app records videos so that you can have an ongoing conversation with your friend or a group of friends.

* Of course, there’s always Facetime – which can now host up to 32 people (if everyone has the latest iOS), Google Hangouts, and Skype.

Okay, let’s say you’re good to go. Don’t know how to have virtual entertainment? Or maybe you dread having conversations in virtual social environments? Here are some great ideas to help you:

Organize a virtual Happy Hour

Virtual happy hours can bring some normalcy and fun back into our lives while also giving us something to look forward to during these tough days. My husband and I were recently invited to an event and were surprised at how relaxing this virtual social event can be. The host asked everyone to prepare their favorite drink and then share the recipe with the other guests. We also shared tips on how to weather the pandemic. A couple shared how they shop online through Instacart – which I had never heard of before. Another explained that there is a secret “Retouch” filter on Zoom that helps you look better (my vanity loved this tip!).

Need an icebreaker? Start with a virtual recording to see how everyone is doing. What Netflix show are they jostling about during quarantine? What movies or books would they recommend? What great podcast did they discover? What new music did they meet? What workout videos inspire them?

Or have guests take a virtual tour of the room they’re calling from and point out something fascinating. Perhaps it is a souvenir from another country, a childhood treasure, or the manuscript of a book they started to write. Once people have been drinking, they might be willing to share the most embarrassing item of clothing they wear during their quarantine. Or share hidden talents. Can they touch their tongue to their nose or wiggle their ears? It’s always good for a laugh! Want to put everyone in a good mood? Ask people what their first trip or vacation will be like after things get back to normal.

Make a training video with a friend on Zoom

Not feeling inspired to exercise? Used to working in groups at the gym? There are many YouTube channels, like Fitness Blender, packed with free home workouts. Invite a friend or two to join you on Zoom and click the Share Screen button. Websites like Orangetheory offer free daily workouts. Many fitness studios like Retro Fitness have also started streaming live workout classes on Facebook for free.

Enjoy virtual movie nights

You can also use Zoom’s split screen feature to watch a movie with friends. Or try Netflix Party, an extension that allows multiple Netflix users to watch a show together from different locations. It syncs your video and has a group chat feature allowing you to exchange comments.

If that’s too much tech for you, agree to watch the same movie or show and jump on the phone, Skype, or FaceTime to chat afterwards.

Host a virtual dinner with friends

Since restaurants are off limits, my husband and I offered to grab some take out from a local restaurant and drop them off at our friend’s door. We then tapped into Zoom for a virtual dinner together, complete with a white tablecloth, flowers and candles.

Do you prefer to cook at home? Invite guests to cook their favorite dish on Zoom and share the recipe with others. You could even have a theme. Maybe everyone dresses island style and cooks a Hawaiian chicken dish. Or dress up in the 70s style and make fondue. Extra points if you match your Zoom background to the theme.

Have a virtual game night

Charades or karaoke can work with Zoom or Houseparty. Two Truths and a Lie is another simple yet entertaining game that will help everyone get to know each other better. Have your guests tell two true statements and one lie, and have people guess which is which. Play bragging games to see who really knows each other best.

Or maybe you’ve seen Instagram’s Social Distance Bingo going around. Instead of letters and numbers, these bingo boards list the activities people do during their 40s. Items on the board could include “stay in your pajamas for two consecutive days”, “finished a puzzle”, “snack all day”, “Google my symptoms”, “baked for fun”, or “went shopping. line “. You can create a free space for washing your hands. You can find sample boards by searching for the hashtag #socialdistancingbingo on Instagram or by searching Google for “social distancing Bingo”. If you don’t want to gamble on Instagram, create your own bingo boards and text or email them to your friends, then get together virtually to play.

Did you know that you can play board games with friends online on the computer or a mobile app? Digital versions of Boggle, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, Risk, Uno, Scattergories, and Scrabble are available and can be played with friends. Or try Cluedo, an app which is a digital version of the classic Clue mystery game. Although the board is different, thanks to the 3D graphics, this adaptation remains overall faithful to the version of the board game and is suitable for families.


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