There's Always a Silver Lining

Life’s been surreal for the past couple weeks. Almost over night, a virus has swept the globe, causing a major upheaval in just about every nook and cranny of our lives. Everyone’s affected, no matter where you live, what you do, how old you are.

I’ll be sharing my experience living through this peculiar time in human history—with a positive spin. Creativity is flourishing as we find new ways to connect with one another. Social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t come together virtually, and in some ways it feels like we’re more connected than ever before. Apparently a global, viral pandemic can bring humanity together.

I’m aware I may sound unconcerned or unsympathetic with the reality of the situation we’ve found ourselves in. I acknowledge there’s real pain and suffering in the world. To be perfectly honest, it’s overwhelming to even attempt in understanding how coronavirus is and will impact us and our planet.

Health systems and health professionals are being pushed to their absolute limits. Businesses are strained and people are left without work in a time already marked by great uncertainty. Financial systems are finding new lows. There’s pressure on our governments to stabilize economies. Families are taking care of loved ones and many of us forced to say goodbye to those who pass away.

With this new reality, we’re pushed psychologically to cope and adapt. What I’ve noticed is a distinct drive to reach out to others and check in on our friends, family, and colleagues. People are coming together to make sense of this bizarre experience and take care of each other. The way I feel most useful to others is by sharing the interesting, innovative, and uplifting experiences I’ve come across in my day-to-day.

Today, I focus my observations on where I’ve seen creative uses of technology to make the most of this extremely challenging situation. If you’ve heard of other exciting activities or products that have recently emerged, please let me know. I’d love to hear about what’s happening in your neck of the woods. (Just reply to this email, it’s that easy!)

📹The proliferation of video chatting

Snapshot of different video chat hangs with family and friends.

This past week I’ve spent more time on video chat than ever before. Aside from my usual work meetings, I’ve been talking to friends and family in groups, and one-on-one. It’s been a ton of fun! It’s nice to see familiar faces, meet new friends, and socialize.

The video chat service I use the most frequently is Zoom. It’s easy to use, and free to download if you want to try it out.

My highlights of video chatting this week have been:

  • Playing charades - my friend Jonathan organized and would text out a list of items for each person to act out
  • Setting up an extra video feed out the window so others could see what was happening in different cities across the U.S.
  • Getting to sit at my sister Pearce and her boyfriend Justin’s dining room table while they made dinner—chatting with them, my mom, and my sister Alexis.

🎻Streaming live music performances

My friend Jason Kleinberg is a professional musician—he plays the fiddle and sings. Just this morning, Jason performed in a one-man live fiddle show, streaming from L.A. through YouTube. He took requests from the chat and over a hundred people tuned in to enjoy the music.

Music is such a nice way to calm the nervous system and get lost in a melody. It’s not a bad deal to get a free serenade from a friend, and join in with other folks from around the world to enjoy a live musical performance. You can check out the footage here. I’m hoping Jason continues to perform live shows.

🎲Twitter games

There has been an explosion of creativity on Twitter—so many people are joining in the conversation to process what’s going on around the world. With Twitter being a buzz, some folks are designing little games to play.

One particular Twitter user, @Thinkwert, is creating little choose-your-own adventure games. Thinkwert’s most recent game was “Four Friends Go To A Party”, and features cute woodland animals.

I started by selecting a character to follow—Arturo the Badger, and acting as Arturo, I made my way through the day leading up to the party. Along the way, I got to make decisions about Arturo’s little world.

After several different questions where I got to choose Arturo’s path for the day (hint: it involved hanging out with my friend Matthew the mole), I ended up at Bernice’s birthday party.

I love these little games and enjoy spending 10 minutes in the little worlds that Thinkwert comes up with. You can check out the full game here—enjoy!

📱New tech products

Last but not least, I’ll highlight a couple of new products that are being offered in direct response to the coronavirus. The first is a software enabled matchmaking service called Cuppa with the tagline of “grab a virtual coffee with interesting people from Twitter.” Cuppa’s here to combat social isolation, and matches people based on their Twitter networks for 30-minute videochats, either 1-on-1 or up to 4 people total. If you’re on Twitter, sign up here. I’ve signed up and look forward to seeing who I meet! Will let you know how it goes.

Another product is a 30-day guided journaling project: Journal Your Feelings. It starts today, Sunday March 22. The creator, Amber Rae, will send an email every day with a prompt or exercise to get you journaling. The journaling experience is designed to help folks process their emotions during this period of uncertainty and change. I also signed up for this, consider joining me!

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