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How to create meaningful digital relationships

Whether you want to connect with new people or stay in contact with existing relationships, these outlets will help you turn the internet into a space for the community.

video conferencing with remote work
Image: Unsplash

In this era of digital transformation, we conduct business, learn information, make purchases, and consume entertainment online. In fact, a global survey found that, as of 2020, the average internet user spends almost seven hours daily in front of a screen. That is nearly double the amount of time spent on digital platforms in 2019. 

However, in this pandemic when many of us are still in quarantine or remaining socially distant from one another, the internet is more than just a medium for content—it’s also a tool for connection. Outside of those we live with, it’s not safe to interact with each other in person right now, and none of us know for sure when exactly it will be once again. 

In the meantime, we must rely on virtual communication to help sustain our relationships. Based on research in the Public Health Journal, more than 50 percent of the 60,000 study participants exhibited feelings of loneliness due to COVID-19

We humans are social by nature, and our brains are not wired for prolonged isolation, so it’s essential to connect with others, even if just on a mobile device. Below are some fun ways to create and maintain digital relationships as we continue to navigate this lack of physical interaction for at least the time being. 

Join an Online Gaming Community

Whether you are into Minecraft, Fortnite, Call of Duty, Mario Kart or another multi-player game, you can use these platforms to meet fellow online gamers who share your common interest. Not only does this make the gameplay more interactive and enjoyable, but it also promotes a sense of camaraderie as you work together on a team to accomplish the game’s objective.

Plan a Zoom Coffee Date Each Month

The days of meeting a friend at the local coffee shop to drink chai lattes and share life updates might be on hiatus, but you can still participate in virtual coffee dates in your own home through Zoom. This video conference software is not just for remote work meetings—you can also use it to chat over a socially distanced jolt of caffeine. Each month choose a different friend or family member, then reach out and invite them to join you for coffee. Before the predetermined time, email them a Zoom ID link and carve out a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour, based on what each of your schedules allows, to virtually reconnect. 

Connect with Virtual Meetup Groups

No matter where you live or are currently spending quarantine, there are a number of online Meetup Groups hosted by people in your area with similar passions or hobbies. You could join a meditation circle in Idaho, a book club in London, a dance group in New Zealand, or a drawing class in Seattle. Whether you are looking to socialize and meet new friends, build contacts for your professional network, or explore activity with others who have the same interest, this is one of the most accessible and convenient tools to form online connections. Right now, there are meetup groups in 55 cities and 22 countries.  

Host a Remote Teleparty Movie Night

Remember when it used to be safe to pile on the couch with your friends, a bowl of popcorn, and a marathon of Grey’s Anatomy on the TV? This might sound like a faint memory from a previous era, but thanks to platforms like Teleparty, it’s still within reach. Teleparty is a free Google Chrome extension that allows you to stream movies and TV shows with your friends and family in real-time from multiple devices and locations. It also synchronizes playback for members of the watch party and offers a group chat feature, so you can discuss the onscreen action. This tool is available for Netflix, Hulu Disney+, and HBO.

Start a Collaborative Music Playlist

You can learn so much about another person based on their taste in music, so invite your friends or family members to collaborate on an online music playlist together. Websites such as YouTube and Spotify have collaboration plugins that enable you and whoever you share the link with to create a playlist of each participant’s favorite songs. This is a fun way to discover new genres and artists while introducing others to your musical preferences. Both of these music services are free to use, so stream this playlist on a desktop or mobile device anytime you want to feel close to the friends who collaborated on it.

Digital interactions are not the same as in-person connections, but these relationships can still be positive and meaningful in otherwise difficult, isolating circumstances. Whether you want to connect with new people or stay in contact with existing relationships, these outlets will help you turn the internet into a space for the community.      

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