Friendship during quarantine means putting on real human clothes to chill with your friends on Zoom. But a Netflix Party thrice a week is just not going to cut it.
Maintaining friendships online, as is true offline, requires real effort and thought. Unless you’re making a deliberate effort to mix things up each time, Zoom dates will soon start to lose their luster and feel a bit routine.
So forget Netflix and Zooming, here are 10 other things you can do to keep your friendship — ahem, I mean conversation — alive. Just make sure you know how to share your screen on Zoom.
1. Take an imaginary vacation.
Google Earth’s Voyager feature offers immersive guided tours for plenty of nature sights and cities. If you want, you can even create personalized tours with your friends. Make sure you toggle between 3D mode and Street View for the whole experience.
Love a good museum? Google’s Art and Culture Platform also offers more than 600 virtual museum tours.
Of course, you can always just do it the good old-fashioned way and hop on Street View wherever you’d like to go.
2. Play Where’s Waldo, but with a twist.
Speaking of Google Maps, what about the WTF moments on street view? You know, like the people who got caught doing goofy, funny, or embarrassing things on camera? Here’s an idea: Make it a game.
Use this funny sentence generator (whatever that means) as a prompt, and race your friends in finding the most fitting image on street view. Take turns being the judge, and pick out what sounds the funniest to you. Doesn’t matter where on the map you go, just find something that fits the description. Think of it like Cards Against Humanity, but with Google Maps.
“I sang to a fork in a swimming pool because someone offered me 1,000,000 dollars” was the prompt I got from the generator — let’s see what you’ve got for it.
3. Endure a true test of friendship.
This is a good way to see how well you know your friend — or how well you don’t. Hit up Quizlet (yes, the website you used to make flashcards in school) and make a trivia game for the friend group.
Create a set of flashcards and change the edit setting so that all your friends can collaborate. Everyone will write down a little-known fact about themselves on one side of the flashcard and their name on the other; the game should last for at least a while if you have 25 to 30 facts on each person. Once everyone’s accounted for, shuffle the flashcards and let the game begin.
Want a surefire way to heat things up? Make it a drinking game: Take a shot or a sip of your drink every time you guess something wrong.
4. Judge a dog show.
Your little furry friend is starting to get annoyed that you’re at home all day to interrupt their daily shenanigans. My suggestion? Look at some good boys and girls on YouTube.
YouTube has all kinds of dog shows and beauty pageants. Want to see a border collie zoom off during an agility contest? You got it. A regal retriever walking around showing off their luxurious golden coat? Say no more, fam.
You and your friends can score these dogs and spend the rest of your chat debating who’s best. That should give you something to do for a few hours.
Looking for more animal content after watching the the riveting saga that is Tiger King? Explore.org offers plenty of animal livestreams — from birds and bears to wildlife and marine life. (I saw a panda parent trying to teach their little one climb a tree the other day.)
If you’re just lucky enough, you might be able to catch a baby bird peeking out of its shell for the first time.
6. Get into a totally, 100 percent serious PowerPoint debate.
Time to take the most heated debates among your friend group to the next level. Maybe you’ll finally come to a consensus about the best type of pasta. Or the best kind of cheese. Or the best character from The Office. Truly, the limit does not exist.
Mandatory requirement: Include a Q&A session at the end of your presentation so your friends can offer rebuttals and form counterarguments. One of you should sit out on the presentation part and just be the judge, though — some things need to be settled.
Chopped is a competition of skills, creativity, and wit — the holy trinity for turning boring pantry items into gourmet dinners. Maybe staying at home has taught you to finesse canned food or frozen meat, maybe it hasn’t. You’ll have fun competing with each other anyway.
Don’t worry about using the same ingredients — it’s best to just use what you have considering the circumstances. All you have to do is let others come up with a challenging basket of random ingredients after they take a look at your fridge and pantry. Set a timer for 30 minutes, and off you go.
Rest assured, you’ll be plenty motivated to cook your heart out. You’ll be eating the final product, after all.
8. Figure out if you’re smarter than a 5th grader.
Are you? Probably not. But you’ll probably have fun trying to defend yourself. All you got to do is quickly search Google for some elementary school trivia questions. (Googling “Are you smarter than a 5th grader question” works well.)
Write your answers on a notepad and reveal it to each other together at the same time. Whoever gets the most questions right wins. Got a little one at home? Loop them in for some family fun.
9. Start a book club.
Need a tech break because Twitter is freaking you out? Go read a book, and get a few friends who love to read to do the same. (Oh, and buy from independent bookstores!)
Make sure you come to a consensus in advance on what books you want to read. You can vote, or you can take turn reading each other’s recommendations. Come together to talk about it over Zoom afterwards. It’s one way to satisfy your curiosity and fulfill your needs for rewarding conversations in these times of isolation.
10. Make a podcast, or try to.
Do you share a common passion with your friends? Are your conversations always dynamic and stimulating? Maybe it’s time to transform those little chit chats into a podcast, even if it’s just for fun.
Zoom lets you record audio directly on the platform. You can even record everyone’s audio in separate files for easy editing later. Want to edit the podcast together? You can download free software like Audacity and play around with it via screen share if you’d like.