Great Ways to Socialize Remotely: Part 2

Image by Martine Auvray from Pixabay.

Great Ways to Socialize Remotely: Part 2

by Adam Sharp

It may feel like there's nothing to do but sit by ourselves at home twiddling our thumbs waiting for social distancing measures to be lifted, but there are still many ways you can maintain healthy interactions with friends and family. Below is the second installment of Circles’ “Great Ways to Socialize Remotely” series.

PowerPoint Party

For all of you Type-A personalities out there, take out your dot journal, and add PowerPoint parties to your to-do list. Creative presentations don’t have to be reserved for office meetings or college classrooms. PowerPoint parties get you out of those no-nonsense arenas to interactive at-home entertainment. 

The basic idea behind PowerPoint parties is that everyone joins your video call ready to share a hilarious self-made presentation. They can be filled with charts, images, graphs, gifs, videos, or anything else to enhance your slideshow. People can choose their own topics, or the host can assign a theme beforehand. For example: 

  • Why I Should be President of (x) Country 
  • Bears vs. Sharks: Who Would Win and Why 
  • Conspiracy Theory of the Month 
  • What Would I Do On a Date Night With (x) Celebrity

There could also be a dress code, like dressing up as your favorite Star Wars character for a themed party about which of the films is the best of the franchise (It’s The Empire Strikes Back, in case you were wondering).  

And let’s not forget that you can totally turn your digital project into a drinking game with such rules as taking a drink when... 

  • Someone says, “uh” or “umm” during their presentation 
  • Someone skips a slide 
  • Someone starts reading the slides verbatim instead of using them as a guide 

However you choose to run your get-together, PowerPoint parties can make for an evening full of multimedia merriment.

Coffee Break Chit-Chat

If you find yourself succumbing to the psychological effects of working from home in isolation, then consider taking a short break to hop on a video call coffee break with friends. Not only will it give you a nice caffeinated jolt of energy, but a chance to clear your head and socialize.

It’s easy to lose focus if you're working eight hours a day non-stop. The pressures of having to deal with tight deadlines, complex tasks, or general boredom can leave employees feeling stressed and frustrated, so stepping away for a little while, even if it’s just 15 or 20 minutes, can do wonders for your productivity. The benefits of taking a short break can make your workload more manageable, keep you feeling refreshed when you clock back in, and more importantly, it gives you a chance to interact with other humans. 

If you're getting together with co-workers, virtual coffee breaks can help you get to know each other better and ideally creates a stronger more positive work environment. One of my employers implemented this policy at the start of the pandemic it did wonders for morale.

But aside from work colleagues, you can also set up times to meet with friends from home, or fellow Berliners you've connected with on Circles. In fact, it might even feel more therapeutic to get away from people you’re constantly interacting with. It can also help you stay in touch with people you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while. 

Exercise the Demons!

Working from home with the kitchen mere feet away can leave one yearning for temptations calling from the pantry. In turn, many of us—myself included—have packed on a few pounds/kilos during quarantine. Taking virtual exercise classes with friends can help get you off your sedentary butt and back into a healthy lifestyle. 

Whether it's aerobics, martial arts, yoga, or ballet, working out with friends will get you moving and allow you to digitally mingle. It's easy to make excuses for not working out, which is why meeting people regularly can help alleviate those bad habits by holding each other accountable.

There are a ton of classes you can take together online, or if one of you is savvy in a particular workout or sport, you can lead a class yourself. And it’s easy to share screens and get as many people as you want to join along. To add some light-hearted competition you can set up weekly challenges, such as seeing who can do the most pushups or hold the longest plank. 

Wanna look smoking hot when you emerge from lockdown? Then throw on some leg warmers and spandex, and get your jazzercise on!

Poetry Night

Hey there, Daddy-O. If you're looking to let loose some sweet beats and rhymes, then get together with the coolest cats you’ve met on Circles and have yourselves a poetry night. You dig? 

Remote poetry nights can range from intimate gatherings with close friends, to large-scale zoom events where attendees from across the globe can join in. Hosting a Poetry Slam with judges and prizes is another way to go as well. Not only are poetry readings an entertaining way to express yourself, but they can also be a therapeutic way to release pent-up emotions—especially in COVID-times, and having an audience that you can convey your inner-thoughts to can be a healthy creative outlet.

So if you've got boss iambic pentameter or an unreal haiku you’ve been working on, you’ve now got an excuse to bust out that turtleneck and bongo drums you've kept hidden away.

What’s Cookin’ Good Lookin’?

What to learn how to cook meals beyond Pop-Tarts and microwave dinners? Then scheduling a time with friends to put on your chefs’ hats could be an ideal way to learn new skill sets for the kitchen. 

An easy way to set up a cooking night with friends is to agree upon a set menu so everyone has time to gather all the ingredients together before your evening begins. People can exchange family recipes to get a taste of everyone’s favorite cuisines, or you can sign up for an online cooking class and learn something new together. A cooking night not only gives you the chance to exchange tips and meal ideas but gives everyone a memorable shared experience. Plus you get the reward of eating a meal together once it’s come out of the oven—as long as you didn’t set the kitchen on fire. 

 Cooking doesn’t just have to be with friends, it can be a great bonding opportunity for your next virtual date. It gets you both on your feet and adds an interactive element to your night of Liebe (love), so you don’t have to just sit stationary in front of the camera playing 20 Questions. Not to mention, lots of people find cooking sexy. ;) 

And for you food-porn aficionados out there, don't forget to take some sweet Insta-photos of the finished product and post it to your social media!

Virtual Museum Tours

One of the perks of living in Berlin is that there is no shortage of museums to visit. Unfortunately, lockdowns have made such experiences limited or temporarily off-limits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still experience exhibition tours.  

I have to admit, the first time I heard about virtual museum tours, it sounded incredibly boring. I thought to myself, “Umm…can’t I just go online and Wikipedia anything I want to learn about a painting?” But when I actually went on a few remote tours, I found myself pleasantly entertained. 

The top Circles recommended virtual museum tours of Berlin are the ones you’ll find on Museum Island: the Altes Museum (Old Museum), Neues Museum (New Museum), Bode-Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), and Pergamonmuseum. Fortunately, all of these museums’ virtual tours are set up in the same way, so you’ll be able to navigate them with ease. Their websites will take you to a 360 view of their museum, where a row of artifacts will appear at the bottom of your screen for you to scroll through and click on—instantly taking you to the location of that item within the building. Pop-up screens will tell you the history of that particular item, or you can skip that and just take a street-view walking tour through the bowels of the museum. You can even turn your experience into a drinking game with rules, like drink whenever you see a naked statue or recognize a famous painting. 

And if you’ve gone through all of the virtual tours in Berlin, why not check out other museums around the world, such as the British Museum in London, Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, or the Guggenheim in New York City. While seeing historical artifacts and great works of art via your computer isn’t the same as seeing them in real life, it still gives you a taste of what each museum has to offer and hopefully encourages you to visit when museums do eventually open back up. 

Virtual Concert

Bummed that your German heavy metal band is restricted from holding concerts? Why not head-bang with your fellow groupies over Zoom? 

Whatever your artistic niche, live streaming videos are the way people are keeping the concert-going experience alive. Even if you’re a solo artist who just enjoys playing for fun, video call performances are a great way to engage with your friends and family remotely. If you want to get more musicians involved, you can host a music festival, where you and your friends can take turns performing your favorite tunes. Or better yet, set up a jam session with people to collaborate and devise original songs. 

Something to watch out for when playing instruments over video calls is that the audio can act a bit funky and sometimes not pick up everything that’s being played. A quick Google search can give you answers on how to solve this problem, such as plugging a microphone into your computer and putting your Zoom call on mute so your computer just detects the external hardware, but that’s just one of many solutions. 

If you don’t have a band or aren’t musically inclined, you and your friends can still hop on one of many live stream events from some of the top musicians across the globe. Bands you know and love will often set up multiple cameras within their event space to create the illusion of being in the crowd. For those of you who have VR headsets, some performances include 360-degree cameras so you can get a full panoramic experience. Some charge a fee, while others do it for free. Either way, just because you can’t attend a concert physically, it doesn’t mean you're restricted from getting your groove on.

Create a Film Festival

Now that you’ve mastered co-viewing and screen-sharing with your friends, you can take it up a notch and create your own remote film festival. 

Hosting a film festival doesn't have to be anything fancy. If you’ve got access to high tech digital camera and audio equipment, by all means, go for it, but light-hearted film festivals can easily be done with your smartphone and a simple video editing program. 

Film festivals can be run any number of ways, but a basic way to set one up is to establish a theme, time limit, and maybe a few rules like requiring each film to include an image of a cat, or limiting your set to an apartment bathroom. These are meant to be a fun, low-stakes form of entertainment that lets you unleash your inner-Christopher Nolan. If you're limited on backdrops, props, and costumes, there are plenty of apps out there that will let you add filters and special effects. 

Want to make it competitive? Then establish categories such as “Best Film” and “Best Actor” that judges or film festival-goers can vote for. You could even throw in small prizes. And who knows, maybe your short film will be the first step to getting your star on Hollywood Blvd.

 

Join a Knitting Groups

Knitting groups have come back into the cultural zeitgeists with a vengeance and have been embraced by people from all walks of life. Why stick to basics like making a blanket or scarf when you can knit a sweater for your turtle or a bicycle cosy?

Aside from creating an infinite number of goofy items, joining a knitting group is a great way to bond with people who share a similar interest, who are often more than willing to share advice whenever you run into any knitting difficulties. It can also help you relieve stress. 

Think of yourself as a political activist? Knitting has also become a form of protest, with such acts as yarn bombing—an alternative to graffiti—which employs colorful displays of knitting or crochet on objects such as trees, statues, bollards, cracks in the streets, and even military tanks. 

Whether you’re clashing your knitting needles together for politics or simply making a beard-inspired face warmer for your significant other, knitting can be a great way to be socially creative during lockdown—thought I wouldn't recommend knitting masks. =)

 

Pet Fashion Show

Everyone knows that their dog or cat (commence baby-talk) is the goodest, most absolute best-est little boop-boops there ever was to walk the earth—even if no one else can see it, right? Well, why not prove it to your friends and family by hosting a remote Pet Fashion Show?

The concept is pretty straight forward. Just throw a costume on your precious little guys and show them off to fellow pet enthusiasts to see who came up with the best outfit. You could buy a costume, but since you’re already stuck at home, why not sew something together that's completely original? If you don’t know how to sew, life in lockdown is the perfect opportunity to learn. There are plenty of online videos that can help get you started. 

Pet fashion shows could be theme-based, or your darlings can come dressed in whatever inspiration you’ve created. You could require each “model” to perform tricks, walk a virtual run-way, or present a pre-made music video of them running around in their outfits doing the more adorable things. Either way, it’s a chance to embrace the internet and its love of cute animals doing cute things.

A pet fashion show may sound crazy, but social distancing is driving everyone a little batty anyway, so why not embrace it?

Coffee Break Chit-Chat

If you find yourself succumbing to the psychological effects of working from home in isolation, then consider taking a short break to hop on a video call coffee break with friends. Not only will it give you a nice caffeinated jolt of energy, but a chance to clear your head and socialize.

It’s easy to lose focus if you're working eight hours a day non-stop. The pressures of having to deal with tight deadlines, complex tasks, or general boredom can leave employees feeling stressed and frustrated, so stepping away for a little while, even if it’s just 15 or 20 minutes, can do wonders for your productivity. The benefits of taking a short break can make your workload more manageable, keep you feeling refreshed when you clock back in, and more importantly, it gives you a chance to interact with other humans. 

If you're getting together with co-workers, virtual coffee breaks can help you get to know each other better and ideally creates a stronger more positive work environment. One of my employers implemented this policy at the start of the pandemic it did wonders for morale.

But aside from work colleagues, you can also set up times to meet with friends from home, or fellow Berliners you've connected with on Circles. In fact, it might even feel more therapeutic to get away from people you’re constantly interacting with. It can also help you stay in touch with people you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while. 

Exercise the Demons!

Working from home with the kitchen mere feet away can leave one yearning for temptations calling from the pantry. In turn, many of us—myself included—have packed on a few pounds/kilos during quarantine. Taking virtual exercise classes with friends can help get you off your sedentary butt and back into a healthy lifestyle. 

Whether it's aerobics, martial arts, yoga, or ballet, working out with friends will get you moving and allow you to digitally mingle. It's easy to make excuses for not working out, which is why meeting people regularly can help alleviate those bad habits by holding each other accountable.

There are a ton of classes you can take together online, or if one of you is savvy in a particular workout or sport, you can lead a class yourself. And it’s easy to share screens and get as many people as you want to join along. To add some light-hearted competition you can set up weekly challenges, such as seeing who can do the most pushups or hold the longest plank. 

Wanna look smoking hot when you emerge from lockdown? Then throw on some leg warmers and spandex, and get your jazzercise on!

Poetry Night

Hey there, Daddy-O. If you're looking to let loose some sweet beats and rhymes, then get together with the coolest cats you’ve met on Circles and have yourselves a poetry night. You dig? 

Remote poetry nights can range from intimate gatherings with close friends, to large-scale zoom events where attendees from across the globe can join in. Hosting a Poetry Slam with judges and prizes is another way to go as well. Not only are poetry readings an entertaining way to express yourself, but they can also be a therapeutic way to release pent-up emotions—especially in COVID-times, and having an audience that you can convey your inner-thoughts to can be a healthy creative outlet.

So if you've got boss iambic pentameter or an unreal haiku you’ve been working on, you’ve now got an excuse to bust out that turtleneck and bongo drums you've kept hidden away.


What’s Cookin’ Good Lookin’?

What to learn how to cook meals beyond Pop-Tarts and microwave dinners? Then scheduling a time with friends to put on your chefs’ hats could be an ideal way to learn new skill sets for the kitchen. 

An easy way to set up a cooking night with friends is to agree upon a set menu so everyone has time to gather all the ingredients together before your evening begins. People can exchange family recipes to get a taste of everyone’s favorite cuisines, or you can sign up for an online cooking class and learn something new together. A cooking night not only gives you the chance to exchange tips and meal ideas but gives everyone a memorable shared experience. Plus you get the reward of eating a meal together once it’s come out of the oven—as long as you didn’t set the kitchen on fire. 

 Cooking doesn’t just have to be with friends, it can be a great bonding opportunity for your next virtual date. It gets you both on your feet and adds an interactive element to your night of Liebe (love), so you don’t have to just sit stationary in front of the camera playing 20 Questions. Not to mention, lots of people find cooking sexy. ;) 

And for you food-porn aficionados out there, don't forget to take some sweet Insta-photos of the finished product and post it to your social media!


Virtual Museum Tours

One of the perks of living in Berlin is that there is no shortage of museums to visit. Unfortunately, lockdowns have made such experiences limited or temporarily off-limits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still experience exhibition tours.  

I have to admit, the first time I heard about virtual museum tours, it sounded incredibly boring. I thought to myself, “Umm…can’t I just go online and Wikipedia anything I want to learn about a painting?” But when I actually went on a few remote tours, I found myself pleasantly entertained. 

The top Circles recommended virtual museum tours of Berlin are the ones you’ll find on Museum Island: the Altes Museum (Old Museum), Neues Museum (New Museum), Bode-Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), and Pergamonmuseum. Fortunately, all of these museums’ virtual tours are set up in the same way, so you’ll be able to navigate them with ease. Their websites will take you to a 360 view of their museum, where a row of artifacts will appear at the bottom of your screen for you to scroll through and click on—instantly taking you to the location of that item within the building. Pop-up screens will tell you the history of that particular item, or you can skip that and just take a street-view walking tour through the bowels of the museum. You can even turn your experience into a drinking game with rules, like drink whenever you see a naked statue or recognize a famous painting. 

And if you’ve gone through all of the virtual tours in Berlin, why not check out other museums around the world, such as the British Museum in London, Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, or the Guggenheim in New York City. While seeing historical artifacts and great works of art via your computer isn’t the same as seeing them in real life, it still gives you a taste of what each museum has to offer and hopefully encourages you to visit when museums do eventually open back up. 

Virtual Concert

Bummed that your German heavy metal band is restricted from holding concerts? Why not head-bang with your fellow groupies over Zoom? 

Whatever your artistic niche, live streaming videos are the way people are keeping the concert-going experience alive. Even if you’re a solo artist who just enjoys playing for fun, video call performances are a great way to engage with your friends and family remotely. If you want to get more musicians involved, you can host a music festival, where you and your friends can take turns performing your favorite tunes. Or better yet, set up a jam session with people to collaborate and devise original songs. 

Something to watch out for when playing instruments over video calls is that the audio can act a bit funky and sometimes not pick up everything that’s being played. A quick Google search can give you answers on how to solve this problem, such as plugging a microphone into your computer and putting your Zoom call on mute so your computer just detects the external hardware, but that’s just one of many solutions. 

If you don’t have a band or aren’t musically inclined, you and your friends can still hop on one of many live stream events from some of the top musicians across the globe. Bands you know and love will often set up multiple cameras within their event space to create the illusion of being in the crowd. For those of you who have VR headsets, some performances include 360-degree cameras so you can get a full panoramic experience. Some charge a fee, while others do it for free. Either way, just because you can’t attend a concert physically, it doesn’t mean you're restricted from getting your groove on.


Create a Film Festival

Now that you’ve mastered co-viewing and screen-sharing with your friends, you can take it up a notch and create your own remote film festival. 

Hosting a film festival doesn't have to be anything fancy. If you’ve got access to high tech digital camera and audio equipment, by all means, go for it, but light-hearted film festivals can easily be done with your smartphone and a simple video editing program. 

Film festivals can be run any number of ways, but a basic way to set one up is to establish a theme, time limit, and maybe a few rules like requiring each film to include an image of a cat, or limiting your set to an apartment bathroom. These are meant to be a fun, low-stakes form of entertainment that lets you unleash your inner-Christopher Nolan. If you're limited on backdrops, props, and costumes, there are plenty of apps out there that will let you add filters and special effects. 

Want to make it competitive? Then establish categories such as “Best Film” and “Best Actor” that judges or film festival-goers can vote for. You could even throw in small prizes. And who knows, maybe your short film will be the first step to getting your star on Hollywood Blvd.

 

Join a Knitting Groups

Knitting groups have come back into the cultural zeitgeists with a vengeance and have been embraced by people from all walks of life. Why stick to basics like making a blanket or scarf when you can knit a sweater for your turtle or a bicycle cosy?

Aside from creating an infinite number of goofy items, joining a knitting group is a great way to bond with people who share a similar interest, who are often more than willing to share advice whenever you run into any knitting difficulties. It can also help you relieve stress. 

Think of yourself as a political activist? Knitting has also become a form of protest, with such acts as yarn bombing—an alternative to graffiti—which employs colorful displays of knitting or crochet on objects such as trees, statues, bollards, cracks in the streets, and even military tanks. 

Whether you’re clashing your knitting needles together for politics or simply making a beard-inspired face warmer for your significant other, knitting can be a great way to be socially creative during lockdown—thought I wouldn't recommend knitting masks. =)

 

Pet Fashion Show

Everyone knows that their dog or cat (commence baby-talk) is the goodest, most absolute best-est little boop-boops there ever was to walk the earth—even if no one else can see it, right? Well, why not prove it to your friends and family by hosting a remote Pet Fashion Show?

The concept is pretty straight forward. Just throw a costume on your precious little guys and show them off to fellow pet enthusiasts to see who came up with the best outfit. You could buy a costume, but since you’re already stuck at home, why not sew something together that's completely original? If you don’t know how to sew, life in lockdown is the perfect opportunity to learn. There are plenty of online videos that can help get you started. 

Pet fashion shows could be theme-based, or your darlings can come dressed in whatever inspiration you’ve created. You could require each “model” to perform tricks, walk a virtual run-way, or present a pre-made music video of them running around in their outfits doing the more adorable things. Either way, it’s a chance to embrace the internet and its love of cute animals doing cute things.

A pet fashion show may sound crazy, but social distancing is driving everyone a little batty anyway, so why not embrace it?

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