A critical part of the human condition is our ability to socialise with one another. Dinners, lunches, coffees, breakfasts and, of course, drinks with long chats and deep meaningful conversations are massively important determinants of our personal happiness. At this difficult time, our social lives have ground to a halt, but fortunately there are methods to prevent a complete cutoff from the outside world.
Thanks to modern technology, we aren’t quite cut-off from the rest of the world like they were 100 years ago, during the Spanish flu outbreak, we not only get to hear each others’ voices, but we can speak face to face and participate in fun activities today. So, the Essential Millennial has compiled a list of apps and platforms that you can use to connect with your friends while you are under lockdown.
The obvious option for communicating with your friends is a plain and simple video call. It’s pretty straightforward, and Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype and FaceTime are typically the most popular platforms for people to use. Some of them also have cool options like augmented reality, so you can open up your messenger apps to chat with the kids donning a pair of bunny ears or as a zombie for the badly behaved ones…
Skribble is essentially an online version of Pictionary. Get a group of friends together and summon your artistic side. And the worse the drawings are, the more fun the game gets. Choose between three words while your friends guess what you’re drawing in a text-based thread next to it. Those that guess the fastest and draw the best earn the most points and it can get pretty competitive. It’s also a great option for people with low-bandwidth because of it’s lack of video conferencing, but for those who do want a video-augmented experience, just use your favourite video calling app while you play.
Engage in a group video chat with up to eight people with this app and play a trivia game, quick draw, heads up and chips and guac. It’s kind of a Trivial Pursuit-meets-Pictionary-meets-30-Seconds-meets-Checkers platform and is especially fun after a couple of less than lonely drinks alone. It’s a real riot and replicates a good old fashioned games night in a very simple way.
Sadly, Jackbox isn’t free to play, but there are over 30 titles that you can own for between $6.99 and $29.99 each (although they have a sale on now where you can purchase some of them for a fee of anywhere between free-to-play or $20.99) or you can buy one of the six party packs, which is a bundle of five games, costing as little as $12.49 . Between all the games like Fibbage, Drawful, Word Spud, Faking it and Quiplash, you get a myriad of entertainment that brings hours and hours of fun where you will do everything between calling your friends out for deceitfulness to answering questions from a trivia-loving murderer. And the best part of it all is you can play on your phone while participating in a group chat on your laptop for a fully immersive social experience. If you’re willing to part with your money, Jackbox only gets more fun with the more people you bring in. It’s a favourite for the witty and smart alike and your best answers can turn you into the life of any virtual party.
A new way to watch Netflix together is by using the Netflix Party extension on your Chrome browser, which allows you to sync your Netflix window with your friends as you watch the same shows at the same time while discussing the plot twists through an adjacent chatbox next to the player. Just download the extension, open your chosen show and share the extension link with your friends, who can open it up and start watching with you. It’s a helpful way of hosting your movie nights remotely.
The last item of social distancing platforms on our list is another rather obvious one – video gaming. Take your preference between Xbox, PlayStation or PC for all of the latest titles of well-developed, visually fascinating and time-sapping action. And, to share the experience with all your friends is very simple through each platforms built-in streaming services, while there are many platforms out there like Twitch that will give you the streaming services that your device might not that allow you to taunt your friends which you shoot their heads off in games like Call of Duty, Gears of War, Apex Legends, PubG, Quake, Team Fortress and countless others. Sports fans can also get involved with games like FIFA, Madden, NBA2k, Pro Evolution Soccer, and the racing-football hybrid, Rocket League. And of course, the classic racing games like Forza, Dirt Rally, Need For Speed, Gran Turismo and Grid. Naturally, if you don’t own consoles or any games, it is going to cost you quite some money to get into the gaming lifestyle, but it could be especially fun for you if you’re new and want to expose yourself to a brand-new mind-blowing experience.
You don’t need to splurge on a console, though. If all you have is your mobile phone, there are a bunch of cooperative games and classic board games available to play. Try Words With Friends or any of the other Scrabble type games available if you want to release your inner word nerd, or PlayerUnknown’s Battleground (PUBG) for a gripping battle royale multiplayer experience.
You may not be able to go outside and or get the same experience of social interactions between groups of friends anymore, but the technology is there for you to exploit and there are some things that we should genuinely be grateful for at this difficult time for us all.