Bored at home: Streaming concerts, virtual classes and 6 other ways to stay connected
Being in quarantine doesn't mean sacrificing human contact, just tweaking it a bit.
Shelby BrownEditor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
It's finally summer, and many people are still working or studying from home while the coronavirus pandemic continues. Even as businesses in some states begin to open back up, practicing social distancing is still a necessity. But that doesn't mean you have to be solitary, even if you're still staying at home most of the time.
Musicians are livestreaming concerts. Religious organizations are streaming worship services. Friends are hosting virtual happy hours. You can even set up your own virtual book club. With a little creativity and technology, there are a lot of ways to stay connected with the community in the summer weeks to come.
Stream a concert or opera
Since the US government first encouraged social distancing to slow the spread of the illness back in March, performers have been trying to find a way to share their art. Artists such as Pink, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Keith Urban, Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, Rob Thomas and John Legend have streamed live concerts on Instagram and YouTube -- many of which are still available to watch. Another nice thing about the streams when you catch them live is that you can often chat with others who are watching and leave comments for the performers, too, as another way to connect.
The Grammy Museum put some of its recorded Q&A performances online from artists like Billie Eilish, Brandi Carlile and Greta Van Fleet. The initial rollout included nine artists. All of the sessions were filmed in the 200-seat Clive Davis Theater inside the museum, located in the LA Live complex, according to a report from Variety. Plus the Metropolitan Opera has streams of performances every night on its website.
Sometimes it's about making others feel less alone. With social distancing, some older people in nursing homes might not understand why their families aren't visiting. Reachout America has a seniors pen pal program that's easy to sign up for. You can also reach out to your local senior or nursing home and see what programs are available.
Take a virtual class
Having extra time means you can learn something new or teach a skill to someone else. Video chat services and social media livestreaming can be helpful resources. When people started practicing social distancing, some of my friends offered to teach classes, like how to crochet, for example, via video chat. You can also find free courses and lectures from Harvard (yes, the Harvard) or browse a list of online classes from other universities on Coursera.
Also, though it's not technically a class, you can check out a new educational game from NASA. In NeMO-Net, a game for Mac and iOS, players can virtually travel the ocean floor in a vessel called the Nautilus, identifying and classifying whatever coral they come across. The cool part is that when you play the game, you're actually helping NASA with its data and research. The game aids in training the Pleiades supercomputer at Ames to recognize corals from any image of the ocean floor.
Gym memberships and exercising with friends are another way people stay social. Planet Fitness is livestreaming free "work-ins" every day at 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET) on Facebook Live. The home workouts are also available on the gym's Instagram. If you're more of a yoga person, lots of studios and instructors are doing livestreams of classes, which you can search for on Twitter (or check with your local studio for resources).
On Instagram, celebrities are getting in on it too. Keep an eye out for fitness classes from trainer Jackelyn Ho, a meditation video from Grammy winner Lizzo and instructional cooking videos from Queer Eye's Antoni Porowski on IGTV.
Weekly gatherings in a place of worship with others are a special time for many. It's worth checking if your place of worship has a livestream on its website. You might be able to find sermon recordings or podcasts as well. If not, there are multiple places you can look online for religious services during this time of social distancing.
Podcasts were already a nice way to feel less lonely, in my opinion. With more people at home, podcasts alone might be a temporary cure to silence. Be on the lookout -- your favorite show might host a special live episode. The social media pages for podcasts are another way to feel connected, especially with other fans of the show. Either way, you can find a number of bingeworthy podcasts on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Music, Google Play and iHeartRadio. Old-fashioned radio -- or internet radio -- is another way to feel connected, especially if it's a local station.