How to (socially) survive a coronavirus quarantine
I’m at the airport. To my left is a guy speaking in Italian and to the right is a guy in a mask. I just heard someone coughing. Now everyone is coughing. Is that my imagination? I need to stop touching my face!
My phone is blowing up with family in the US asking if I’m okay in Europe. My mom wants to know if I have disinfectant and enough food to last through a quarantine. I really don’t have either.
I’m canceling and changing plans. Should I go to the wedding on Saturday? Should I take that next flight? I’m also supposed to move out of my apartment in two weeks!
The anxiety is real.
So, I’m asking myself, what’s the responsible thing to do? Do I continue life as usual and avoid panic? Or do I quarantine myself to protect others from the virus I might be carrying?
Social distancing seems to be the most rational and compassionate response. I may not have the virus, but if I do, I don’t want to pass it along to someone who could really be affected by it. I want to do the right thing and #flattenthecurve.
Making this decision is really hard so I’ve put together a (social) survival guide for myself to get me through a few weeks without seeing friends while working from home. I’m going to refer to this list every time I feel isolated so I can calm my anxieties:
Watch TV series until I go blind
I don’t normally watch TV. Whenever people talk about TV series I never know what’s going on and try politely to listen, though end up spacing out. There’s no ideology behind it, it’s just that my TV is the size of a postcard and I am too cheap to get a new one.
But it’s time to get going with my newest vice. I really don’t know where to begin but I’ve found a few best TV series lists to help me get started with my new habit. I’ll watch pretty much anything- the total garbage dating shows to the cerebral documentaries.
I’ve got a family Netflix subscription and my ex-boyfriend hasn’t changed his password on HBO so I’ll have plenty of options. Hopefully, I’ll find someone to share their Hulu login with me as well.
Video chat with my friends
You might have stocked up on toilet paper, but I’ve stocked up on wine. And I plan to drink lots of it while having virtual parties with my friends. There are tons of tools to stay connected through video and it’s a fun time to try them all.
It’s going to be a little strange because I use video conferencing pretty exclusively in my professional life but I can’t think of a better way to have a pajama party with my friends while we are all in our separate apartments.
I imagine combating the isolation we can just use it to do our daily tasks together, from cooking to cleaning, to TV binge-watching one of the series I’m soon to discover or to ease my anxiety with adult coloring books.
Create the soundtrack of the century
I’m not super into music. If I’m on a good date, I’ll definitely pretend that I am, but admittedly, that’s really a lie! If I get into it now though, next time it won’t be a lie and I might actually be able to impress my next date with some real music knowledge. Thus, I’ll begin my journey into getting to know new music.
While my soundtrack might initially be based on what I listened to in high school and the occasional recommendation from Spotify, I’m determined to explore further. I’m also going to spend the time to come up with clever names for my playlists. Be on the lookout for “My Funny Quarantine” and “Buena Vista Social Distancing Club.”
Text until I get arthritis
I’m using every form of messaging to talk to the people I love. #quarantineselfie is a thing. I’ll be sharing my horrible Spotify playlists for my friends to laugh and not listen to. I’ll be scrolling through Instagram for memes to send to my sisters who won’t think they’re very funny. And I’ll be texting my mom to let her know that Europe isn’t the hellscape Trump might be portraying.
What’s really hard is that I’m a true extrovert. I love meeting new people and that’s not going to be possible IRL for a while. I’ve considered reactivating Tinder but I just… can’t… even. No thanks. Hard pass.
For now, I’ll be finding people on Panion. It’s a nice way to connect with the people in my area who I’ll actually get to see in person when this is all over. Panion has created Virtual Gatherings where you can, you guessed it, hang out virtually; it’s a great place to share survival tips for those working from home and/or quarantined, like what’s still open in the neighborhood. I know I’ll be using Virtual Gatherings to get recommendations on series and to share my terrible taste in music with new people nearby.
The most exciting part about it is that these online friendships can become in-person relationships because you’re chatting with people in your own city. Imagine, six months from now you’re at a party and someone asks you and your friend how you first met and your answer is, we were surviving Corona quarantine together in a Virtual Gathering on Panion. Hello, 2020!
Plan for freedom
It’s probably not a great idea to dive down a rabbit hole imaging the next six months in quarantine since of course, this isn’t going to last forever. I’m watching flight prices like a hawk and smiling at the Twitter photos of empty planes.
I’m going to plan my post-viruscation even if I don’t have any idea of when it can be. If I don’t stay positive, how else am I going to stay sane in my windowless apartment?
Pay attention to mental and physical health
I’m going to admit it. I’m nervous and a little scared. I’m not totally losing it but I’m worried about all this time I’m about to spend alone and indoors.
If I really need support beyond friends and family there’s always great apps like BetterHelp. There are lots of options so it's helpful to use websites that provide reviews like consumersadvocate.org. I’m also excited to try some online workouts.
The Fabulous is my favorite app for mind and body connection. It’s got great meditations and workout guides that can help you form and maintain healthy habits. The shoebox-sized cave I live in is kind of depressing but I’ll be finding space to do their 7-minute morning workout. I’m going to invite friends to do it with me so I have a virtual company while I’m holding my planks.
This is rough. And it might continue to be rough. But I’m not going to let social distancing make me feel disconnected. For now, we can keep it virtual, but pretty soon you’ll be seeing my pasty white face burning in the sunlight on my post-viruscation.
I look forward to inviting all my old friends and new to my post-quarantine dance party. Get ready to dance to the worst soundtrack you’ve ever heard while sipping Coronaritas.