Staying Close While Staying Distant

It’s been forty days since I’ve hung out with my friends, family and co-workers. It’s been five weeks of my Husband and I entertaining each other in our home. I can’t remember the last time I went this long without being in a room with the people I love – laughing, enjoying beverages, sharing homemade dishes and sharing stories.

Yes, I love my one-on-one time with Tom where we listen to music, cook together, binge-watch Netflix series, take on home projects and just laugh. But, we’re both social butterflies who yearn for that social interaction. So, how do we fill this void and stay close and interact with our loved ones while staying distant? Video chatting!

Before the virus, I was not big on using FaceTime. Why do I need to see your face? Can’t we just hop on the phone and chat? Now, I find myself FaceTiming almost everyday. I’ve also participated and hosted Zoom Happy Hours and Houseparties. I’ve never felt so connected, especially to those who are states away. It’s pretty awesome if you think about it.

If you’re like me, someone who needs the social interaction, then I highly suggest you start stepping up your video chatting game. Currently, I toggle back and forth between three apps – FaceTime, Houseparty and Zoom. They are all great platforms to use with their own unique features.

FaceTime

This Apple app has been around since 2010. It’s a common feature that most iPhone users use, whether it be daily or once a year. They recently just updated it so that you can FaceTime with more than one iPhone user at a time, also known as Group FaceTime.

Pros: Secure, convenient and easy for all ages to use. You receive a missed call notification if you were unable to be reached at the time on your phone. You can use it on any apple device.

Cons: Not everyone has an apple device, so you can only connect with those who do.

Zoom

Pre-Coronavirus, Zoom was used primarily for businesses to conduct meetings and webinars. I use zoom everyday at my job and even more now that I’m working from home. Now, I use it for work and play!

Pros: It’s free and allows anyone to join just by using a link – all you need is a laptop, tablet or smartphone. If you’re using a laptop or tablet, the videos are proportionately displayed for you to see everyone at once. If you pay for an account, you can even record your hangout!

Cons: The free basic account (what most people use) kicks you off after 30 minutes, making you create a brand new meeting with link if you want to keep chatting. If you’re using an iPhone, you can only see four video screens at a time. So, you must swipe through the different screens to see everyone. Also, Zoom’s popularity has increased significantly since COVID-19, which means hackers have been invading Zoom calls. Therefore, the security isn’t 100% trustworthy if you’re looking to have a private conversation.

Houseparty

I had never heard of this app until one of my friends suggested it to me, and it’s been around since 2016 (granted, Epic Games did just buy it in 2019). You can download it on any iOS or Android device and you can use it in Google Chrome. Essentially, once you open the app and add friends, they can get notifications that you’re “in the house” aka available to video chat. This is honestly my favorite app out of three, mostly because of how fun and unexpected it can be.

Pros: You can opt to get notifications when any of your friends are “in the house”. This makes it easy to video chat with someone without having to send the “wanna chat” text. You can also join any conversation that is open and going on. So, if I see that my friends are in a chat, I can just join them without their consent without having to be invited! You also send Facemail, a video greeting for someone to open when they open the app next. Finally, there are games you can play – Chips & Guac (like Apples to Apples), Heads Up, Trivia and Quick Draw.

Cons: Anyone of your friends or your friends friends can join your conversation unless you lock the room. So, if you don’t want your friends in on your private conversation, make sure you hit that lock icon. Also, unless you change the settings, any of your friends can know your “in the house” and can start a video chat without your consent. Next thing you know, you’re on someone’s video screen whether you like it or not if they’ve hit the join button next to your name.

So, the next time you’re sitting alone at your kitchen table drinking a glass of wine, I highly suggest you hop on to one of these apps and catch up with a loved one… or five! It’s important to check in on others, especially during these tumultuous times, and to keep those close relationships. Plus, who doesn’t like catching up with friends or family while enjoying a couple of beverages? I mean, we do this all the time in person, why not do it virtually?

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