We’re all Mr. Lonely.

What a week.

As the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies, public events and establishments have shut down left and right.

The NBA indefinitely suspended the current basketball season. Mirvish theatres have paused all productions. Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber have moved classes online for the remainder of the Winter 2020 semester.

Scene from MTV's, "The Hills," where a man slowly closes a door.

The logistical changes, and the fear, brought on by this rapidly spreading disease have ushered in a flood of new buzzwords. It’s nearly impossible to get away from articles about panic buying, quarantine, and isolation. Perhaps most prevalent of all is the concept of social distancing: a deliberate effort to limit social contact in order to reduce the risk of transmission.

Basically, experts are saying that until the danger decreases, you should stay home as much as you possibly can. And yes, it still applies if you’re not sick.

A cartoon woman holds up a mug of tea while sitting at a table with a note that reads, "Stay home."

Postponing your St. Patrick’s Day party is a small price to pay for the health of your community. However, humans are social creatures—we need connection just like we need food and water.

So, how can you feel closeness while you’re socially distanced?

Get streamin’

We live in the age of Netflix, YouTube and Spotify (also Apple Music, Spotify’s far inferior counterpart. Don’t @ me.) In other words, there are a host of resources at your disposal that allow you to feel connected by sharing content.

Carrie Brownstein sits next to Fred Armisen on a couch in the show, "Portlandia," and shouts, "Next episode!" repeatedly.

Now is the time to catch up on all those series you started over reading week but never got the chance to finish. You can finally find out which couples on Love is Blind stayed together! And, while you’re at it, you can hook your device up with Netflix Party, a Google Chrome extension that enables a group chat while letting you watch things in sync with other users. You know, so you can text your friend the whole time about how much you both dislike Jessica.

Seriously, what was her deal?

If Netflix gets a little old, you can always turn to YouTube. Its content library is unrealover 500 hours of video is uploaded to the site every 60 seconds! You could spend an entire 14-day quarantine watching YouTube and you would only get through two-thirds of the content posted in a single minute.

Some of my personal favourite creators include Jackie Aina, Cassey Ho and Kurtis Conner (a Humber alum!)

YouTuber Kurtis Conner covers his face with his hands and says, "Folks."

Streaming platforms aren’t limited to video, either. Spotify (and, okay, fine, Apple Music) are constantly updating their catalogues with new albums, artists and podcasts.

In fact, IGNITE just so happens to have a round-up of the 10 best podcasts out there! Designed to make you laugh and make you learn, they’re a sure-fire way to soothe the isolation blues.

LeVar Burton wears headphones and looks at a smartphone screen while saying, "Amazing content!"

Finally, never underestimate the power of the PlayStation. Video games are great for fostering feelings of connection, as they often involve your direct cooperation with other players. Not only that, but they deliver multiple other benefits such as improved memory, enhanced eyesight, and reduced internal prejudices.

Between all of these platforms, you can surely stream your way back to having a social life.

Get in touch

Yet again, the internet saves the day.

I’m the first to admit I’m a little too addicted to social media—but for now, I’m done feeling guilty about it. And you should be, too. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat and TikTok are fantastic tools to get in touch with others while being physically alone.

If you get tired of looking at meme accounts (although, let’s be honest, how could you), make FaceTime and group chats your new best friend. You can even combine the two and conduct a Group FaceTime, an update that was added to Apple products with the release of iOS 12.1.4 in February 2019.

Maybe you’re not an Apple user. No worries—there are still ways to get in touch with your loved ones. WhatsApp allows for group texting and video calls and it’s available for both iOS and Android.

Side note: it’s also a great tool for communicating with your classmates now that school is online. You’re welcome.

Six people connect over a group video call.

Despite all the wonderful communication tools the internet offers, connecting doesn’t have to involve a WiFi connection. Try kicking it old school by writing letters to family and friends living far away.

“But,” you ask, “why would I write a letter when I could just text someone and they’d get it way faster?” And, to that, I say two things:

One: checking the mail and seeing a hand-written letter among the stack of bills is quite possibly one of life’s greatest joys.

Two: old people are one of the highest-risk demographics for COVID-19. As such, the provincial government has urged nursing homes in Ontario to ban all non-essential visits. Writing a letter to a grandparent, or even an elderly stranger, could make them smile during otherwise lonely and troubling times.

Brightening someone else’s day will brighten yours, too. Guaranteed.

Cartoon animation of an envelope flying out of a mailbox and opening to reveal a heart.

Get creative

Billie Eilish recorded her debut album in her bedroom. She sat on her bed to record vocals for a record that would go on to win an astounding five Grammys.

There’s no reason you can’t do the same.

If you’re a writer, write. If you’re a baker, bake. If you’re a designer, design. If you’re none of those things, but you’ve always wanted to be, now’s your chance. Yes, it sucks that we can’t go to concerts right now. But, use this time to finally realize your passions and, when life goes back to normal, you could be the one on stage.

Billie Eilish performs on Saturday Night Live.

Furthermore, making art with other people has been proven to facilitate social bonding. In other words, when you make something with someone, it’ll improve your social life.

Your art doesn’t have to be fancy. You could have a paint night with your roommates. Make TikToks with your sister. Choreograph a dance with your cousin and make your whole family watch you perform, just like you did as kids.

No matter how you go about it, exercising your creativity will help you get social distancing down to a fine art. Pun definitely intended.

Get grounded

Sometimes the best way to connect is to disconnect. I know that sounds like something you’d see printed on a yoga instructor’s tote bag, but it’s true.

Shakira meditates with her hands in a prayer position, opens her eyes and looks side to side.

Your relationship with yourself is the filter through which you interact with the world. Thus, the more you know yourself, the easier it will be to get to know others.

Use this period of social distancing to do some serious self-care. Face masks and body scrubs are great but don’t shy away from introspection, either.

This is a tough time for all of us—reflect on it in a journal. Take a few minutes to practice deep breathing. Go for a walk through your neighbourhood. (Yes, it’s still okay to leave your house.)

Before you know it, you’ll have a renewed perspective and improved relationships to boot.

Scene from, "Friends" showing Joey hug Chandler from behind.

Get real

There is one thing I can’t stress enough: don’t panic.

It’s scary to see so many businesses and public institutions shut down. I get it. But, if anything, these actions should provide a sense of security—health authorities are taking this pandemic seriously.

We’re not being told to practice social distancing because the world is about to end. We’re being told to practice social distancing so we can keep our communities safe and stop this illness in its tracks.

It’s a sign things are going to get better, not worse.

A cartoon breathing aide featuring a ball rolling down a hill and being carried back up to the top by a mechanical lift.

So, do your best to stay connected. Wash your hands.

And, please, don’t be racist.

Stuck scrolling all day? Here are some accounts that’ll transform your timeline for the better.

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