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Zoom is where we hang out now

In which a pandemic changes how everyone lives, but not us so much, which is weird, even though all of it is pretty weird

I missed my own writing deadline this week. I resolved to post something to my newsletter every Monday, and this week I failed.

It’s a weird week to think about committing to anything, to be honest. Everyone’s either in or contemplating a self-quarantine; Alicia and I have basically been quarantining for weeks now. By nature of both of us both working from home, we’re basically mostly at home — save an occasional dog walk or grocery run or outing to a sparsely populated place. Yesterday I did the obligatory bulk-supplies run to BJs Wholesale, so now we have months worth of frozen and non-perishable food. Alicia and I have probably spent the majority of our time trying to relax together while acknowledging our crippling anxieties, which in a way has been a bit therapeutic and has certainly brought us together. (That and washing our hands and sanitizing & re-sanitizing our stuff when we forgot to wash our hands before touching something.)

I feel for the folks living alone, working at home alone or generally being stuck inside little boxes in cities, which is where we were only a few months ago. For me, not much has changed since moving out to the sticks: I’ve been working at home, so has my spouse, and neither of us generally go out much between where we live and our anxieties. Alicia has repeatedly stated that, for her, this amount of hand-washing and nervousness and generally trying to avoid crowds is what she’s done for years.

But I am still feeling a bit of the isolation problem that everyone is writing and/or worried about. It’s really nice having a wife and puppy at home to love, but there are other people in this world that I like, and my work and hobbies and other distractions only go so far. I’ve FaceTimed a bit with family but that’s differently frustrating. Also frustrating has been my attempts to stay in the loop via social media: a lot of the people I follow seem to be posting a lot about their coronavirus-driven isolation, but it doesn’t feel like we’re doing much about it.

Should we all just get on Zoom calls and hang out, then?

We remote workers have been doing this forever, as a means to build team camaraderie: book a time to jump on Zoom, as a group, and talk about anything but work. We call it, unironically, a Hangout, or sometimes a coffee chat” but that implies a certain amount of work-ness. A Hangout on the other hand feels like what we do when we go to a bar, or someone’s house, and just — hey — hang out.

Seriously, though: everyone’s talking about Zoom in the context of remote work, so why not leverage this (or Skype or group FaceTime or pick-your-online-gaming-platform or whatever else) to just hang out with each other? Are people already doing this?

I’m game if you are. I have booze in the house; I’m sure you do too. It’ll kind of be like going to a bar?

Posted on March 13, 2020

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