Great Ways to Socialize Remotely: Part 3

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Great Ways to Socialize Remotely: Part 3

by Adam Sharp

Just because your life currently swings from one lockdown to the next, it doesn’t mean you still can’t find exciting ways to connect with friends—and there are many. Below you’ll find the third installment of Circles’ “Great Ways to Socialize Remotely” series. 

Board Game Night

Getting together with friends to bust out your favorite in-person board games might be mothballed for the moment, but the good news is, many of those classic dice rolling, wheel spinning activities can still be played from afar. 

Board games bring people closer together and are a non-intrusive way to connect and open up with new acquaintances. They allow you to display your creative and/or strategic side, and can be a good way to help you relax.* And just because restrictions keep many of us apart, it doesn’t mean we still can’t keep board game nights alive. 

Many popular board games have been made available electronically for years, but COVID-times have made these options ideal for socializing. No longer restricted to just playing against a computer, you can now set up online multiplayer games such as Monopoly, Clue, Battleship, Scattergories, Scrabble (or Words with Friends), and The Game of Life. Even Settlers of Catan and Cards Against Humanity have online options. 

So if you and your friends feel like getting together without having to change out of your sweats, check out these and other great online board games. 

* My one exception to this rule would be playing Risk, one of my personal favorites. My lifelong partner and I tend to get a bit competitive whenever the dice begin to roll, so we made a rule that whenever one of us successfully conquers the world, the winner has to buy the loser ice cream. I tend to get ice cream often… 

VR Happy Hour

Happy hours at bars and restaurants have always been an entertaining way to hang out with drinking buddies on the cheap, however, a certain virus has put a stop to such interactions. The good news is that video call meetups are still a great substitute for in-person happy hour, but if you want to take it up a notch, make a toast in virtual reality. 

While video calls have been a saving grace for remote interactions, “Zoom fatigue” has started to take its toll, which has made spatial presence—the feeling of “being there”—more important than ever. With such apps as Rec Room, BigScreen, VRChat, and AltSpace, you can now create your own avatars and meet up in virtual 3D worlds to get you out of the house, so to speak. 

And don’t forget, all of this can be done with a drink in hand! Though keep in mind, wearing a bulky headset that covers your eyes and nose makes drinking a bit more challenging, so I recommend sipping out of a straw or bottle. There’s also the hurdle of the real world being masked by your virtual space, but this can also be an additional means of entertainment by having to feel around for your drink and not spill it everywhere. 

Berlin Scavenger Hunt

Just because you and your friends have to socialize remotely, it doesn’t mean your interactions have to be sedentary activities. If you feel like getting out of the house, and learning more about the city, why not try a remote scavenger hunt?

Scavenger hunts are pretty straight forward: organizers provide a list of specific or broadly themed items to find, then you go on a quest to find them. As for a Berlin scavenger hunt, the idea is that you go on a city-wide adventure in search of whatever’s on your checklist. Ideas for your hunt could range from finding historical landmarks to cool street art to stores and restaurants, and then uploading photos of your destinations to a shared drive.

It’s possible to work as a team with someone from another household depending on current COVID-19 restrictions, but if you do, everyone should wear masks and maintain social distancing. It’s also a good idea to restrict your checklist to items that don’t have to be purchased. And seeing as how running around the city might take some time, it might also be beneficial to let your scavenger hunt span over a period of several days/weeks. Experiencing bad weather? You could also confine your search to being whatever you have lying around the house. Now gather your friends and let the hunt begin!

Co-Viewing Movie Marathons

Now that you’ve mastered the art of co-viewing parties, it’s time to take group video streaming to the next level. Do you and your Circles friends have some time to kill? Then grab a case of beer and a stack of pizzas, and indulge in a marathon of your favorite films.

Marathons are a great way to socialize with others who share your passion for on-screen media. It’s essentially a giant-binge fest of stand-alone movies (or TV shows) based on a particular franchise, such as Star Wars or Marvel’s Cinematic Universe movies, that are watched back-to-back. Marathons generally take up a large chunk of your day, so you’ll need to clear your schedule. For example, you’ll spend 11 hours and 36 minutes watching The Lord of the Rings extended edition trilogy—which I’ve done and was worth every minute.

Co-viewing parties have become the gold standard for socializing these days, and with almost every movie available online, you can throw a marathon for any number of series. As mentioned in my previous article that included co-viewing parties, many streaming services offer co-viewing options, while 3rd party apps are also available for those that don’t.

Need marathon suggestions? Why not try out one of these franchises:

  • Alien
  • Back to the Future
  • Harry Potter
  • The Hangover
  • Indiana Jones
  • James Bond (could go by favorite Bond actor)
  • Jurassic Park
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe
  • The Matrix
  • Monty Python
  • Star Wars 
  • Toy Story 

And speaking of movies…

“If I Wrote That…” Rewrite Night

How many times have you watched an atrociously written film or TV show where the writer(s) word-vomited all over their manuscript, and you thought to yourself “If I wrote that, my version would have been a thousand times better!” Well, now’s your chance. 

“If I wrote that…” movie rewrite nights branches off my earlier blog that included hosting write nights with your friends, where you get together to write, read, and/or give feedback on each other’s work. This time, you get to put your money where your mouth is and show the world how a terribly written screenplay should have been written. What’s great about this is that it doesn’t matter if your rewrite is any good, it’s just a fun way to take aim at on-screen media you regret paying to see. Annoyed at the last season of Game of Thrones? Rewrite. Wanted to strangle yourself during every scene in the Twilight saga? Rewrite. I ran a similar creative writing exercise with a group of undergrad students where they rewrote the god-awful balcony scene between Anakin and Padme from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

So if you’re looking to take your own “Revenge of the Consumer” out on multi-million dollar movies and TV shows, grab a quill and some ink, and try your hand at rewriting. 

Zoom Trivia Night

Do you miss your battle of wits with fellow pub-goers to see who can answer the most random questions, all while under the influence of a beer or 5? Then maybe you should give remote trivia night a go.

Trivia nights are a fairly easy activity to put together. Just assign a host to come up with a series of questions (themed or completely random) and see who can score the most points by answering enough of them correctly. To make it more interactive, have your host turn it into a slideshow presentation using PowerPoint or Google Slides.

What’s also great is that you can still work in teams, even when playing remotely. Zoom has a feature called “Breakout Rooms” where you can split your meeting up into separate sessions so teams can work together in private. Players can simply write down their responses using pen and paper, but if you want to keep it electronic, use Google Forms to collect and send your answers. And for those winning teams who want to take their talents on the road, there are numerous online trivial leagues you can join where you can go head-to-head with other trivia aficionados across the globe. 

Virtual Pub Crawl

Bummed that you can’t meet up with your Circles friends to pub crawl from one bar to the next ‘til the sun comes up? Well, the good news is that virtual pub crawls can still be a great substitute for the real deal.

There are many ways you can pub crawl virtually, but I’m going to push one that takes the least amount of brainpower, which I’d like to call a “Web Crawl.” Here’s the basic idea: 

  1. Join a video call with a supply of beverages on standby.
  2. Have the host share their screen, and they will then take you to a series of “thought-provoking” websites that serve as conversation starters.
  3. After about 15 or 20 minutes, or whatever that translates to in tipsy-time, move onto a different website and see where that conversation takes you. 

You can also take turns playing host if you want to jazz it up a bit. Either way, it’s meant to be an easy way to chill with friends while exploring all the crazy stuff on the internet you never knew existed. Need some website starter ideas? Then check out these sites: 

  • Zoomquilt: a trippy zooming image that is apparently infinite. 
  • Pointer Pointer: where a picture of a real person appears on the screen pointing to wherever your cursor is located. (I can’t get enough of this one)
  • People of Wal-Mart: dedicated to “unique” patrons of Wal-Mart. 
  • Scale of the Universe 2: illustrates the scale of anything and everything in our universe. 

International Holiday Dinner Parties

With Berlin being the cultural melting pot that it is, you’re never far from people with different backgrounds. Such diversity gives you the opportunity to meet others from around the globe, learn about their heritage, and take part in holidays you may have never celebrated. And an easy way to educate yourself about different holidays is through food.

Whether you’re eating latkes on Hanukkah or haggis on Burn Night, sinking your teeth into traditional holiday food items is a perfect way to get a taste—literally and figuratively—of others’ cultures. While large gatherings are currently on hold, you can join or host your own remote dinner party to try your hand at these dishes. Even if whatever you're making doesn’t quite come out how it's supposed to, the experience will give you a greater understanding of how others celebrate. Dinner parties also give you the chance to take turns talking about each other's holiday traditions. Whichever holidays you celebrate, embracing traditional holiday meals and treats is a great way to reach out and make new friends.

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