Digital socialization in the time of the coronavirus
Until recently, expressions like ‘safety distance’ and ‘reduced sociality’ could very well have been the titles of an episode of a series like Black Mirror by Charlie Brooker. The current state of affairs certainly has several elements in common with the dystopian future in which this television series is set, but in this case, technology is not the enemy. Indeed, it is becoming our salvation.
As we write, the restaurants, theaters, bars and discos of many countries of the world – ours among the first – have closed their doors. The Met Gala has been postponed to a later date, and the Tokyo Olympic Games are also in doubt. Here, as in France and Spain, people found around “without compatible motivation” are liable to fines and complaints. Even weddings and funerals are prohibited and the Vatican plans to broadcast the Easter mass live streaming in order to avoid mass gatherings. The social freedoms we took for granted are gradually disappearing with each new update of the government. Staying at home is – by law – the new way out. But given the temporary ban (at least hopefully) of traditional social activities, it is now catching on a new form of digital socialization.
The data show that people are moving rapidly towards a digital lifestyle. According to what reported by the company of web security of San Francisco, Cloudflare, in Italy, Internet traffic increased by 30% following the mandatory isolation of the whole territory. And while many companies are preparing for a major recession, shares in Silicon Valley’s video conferencing platform, Zoom, are surging 59%. In February, TikTok was the app non-game most downloaded in the world with installations increased by 96% compared to the previous year. In addition, on the afternoon of March 15, the platform of online gaming Steam reported an all-time high with 20.3 million players playing games simultaneously.
It’s time to bring out the nerd or nerd in you. Take out the headphones of your PlayStation, memorize the capitals of the various countries or maybe have a game of Words with Friends with your mom. New creative online alternatives emerge hour by hour alongside traditional hobbies. We have put together a list of our favorite options to help you re-fill your Google Calendar.
1. Let’s party!
Launched in 2016, this group video calling app has been popular with teenagers due to the connection with Snapchat and Fortnite. Now it is the over 30s who download it at record rates, using it to organize ‘home parties’ (house party) with up to eight friends (enough to deserve the party title, right?) which can be accessed via an invitation code. You can block the chat by allowing access to a set number of friends or leaving access free. A very simple system for video calling a group of friends, Houseparty also offers games In-app like Heads Up, Trivia and Cards Against Humanity. It is possible to share the screen and leave ‘Facemail’ (basically group video messages) for friends and family who live in areas with different time zones.
2. Do we watch a Netflix series together?
Netflix wasted no time and launched a Google Chrome extension with a name that inspires cheerfulness, Netflix Party, which allows a group of friends to watch TV series and films together, at a safe distance, using synchronized video playback so that you don’t have to go through the process of trying to click Play all at the same time. The extension also offers a group chat function to joke and comment together if Giannina from Love Is Blind she is ruining herself with her own hands or if she really hates her boyfriend.
3. A rave in the living room
Boiler Room, the live streaming music platform, has launched a new series that broadcasts live from musicians’ homes and private spaces. The streamed concerts arrive directly to the public, eliminating the need to have a team responsible for production, as provided by the guidelines on the anti-contagion safety distance. The first stream debuted big with a set of The Black Madonna and on March 20 the Australian house producer will take the helm Mall Grab, giving you a rave-style Friday night directly in your living room. In addition, with each show there is the option of making a donation to a charity. This week is the Global FoodBanking Network.
4. An after work drink
# On-names, which in Japanese means “drinking online” has become topic trend on Twitter. With the closure of pubs and bars, the custom of going for a drink after work, which is part of the culture of many countries, from Great Britain to Japan, is being recreated through video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or FaceTime. In this regard, we must remember that excessive alcohol consumption weakens the immune system. So it is better not to exceed the alcoholic unit or prefer soft drinks. Zoom is also used as a coffee break replacement with friends for home workers.
5. We play online
Playing video games – the idea of fun for Lana Del Rey – has become a totally acceptable pastime for adults. For those millennials who have lost ‘the habit of the game’ for some time, Mario Kart still exists but is now called Mario Kart Tour and is in multi-player mode. For beginners, Fortnite: Battle Royale involves fighting to the death in style Hunger Games on an island with 100 other players. A state of total anarchy, which could be exactly the kind of outburst we need now. And there is also the team mode that allows you to join forces with three friends. Pokémon Go has adapted the game to use indoor while games that go more in the family, such as Words With Friends and Boggle, are excellent alternatives to play together with parents or older relatives in self-isolation.
6. Digital workout
A lesson on spin biking with Peloton
© Photography Shawn Hubbard
Funny and engaging videos of fitness instructors are teaching on Twitter from the courtyard of apartment buildings so that all residents can participate and follow from the window or balcony. Meanwhile, this week, shares in the Peloton company, which specializes in live streaming home workouts, saw a 13% increase. Known for prohibitive costs, Peloton is extending the 30-day trial period of its app (which does not require a bicycle) to 90 days for the United States, Great Britain and Canada, and offers yoga and cardio fitness classes in live streams that do not require the purchase of any equipment. Obviously, YouTube has a monopoly on workout free with programs for all ages and abilities.
A Masterclass with Vogue US director Anna Wintour
© Courtesy Anna Wintour
This platform is available in most countries and has been operating for some time almost muted, apart from frequent YouTube ads with Margaret Atwood’s calm and soothing voice. Masterclass offers distance learning courses in a variety of subjects, including creative writing lessons with Atwood and Malcolm Gladwell, cooking with Gordon Ramsay, cinema with David Lynch and Martin Scorsese and self-expression with RuPaul. The site has a student center where users can discuss the course, share their work and offer feedback to each other. At a cost of 16.67 euros per month, it can be an excellent activity to try with friends or as a way to get in touch with other creatives from all over the world.