While much has been written about the critical use of broadband for remote work, telehealth, and distance learning during the pandemic, our extended quarantine has also led to innovative applications of the internet for culture, leisure, and just plain fun. In today’s post, we’ll take a look at how friends and family members are using the internet to stay connected in innovative ways.
Dungeons and Dragons Becomes More Than a Game
Henry Kivett and four colleagues in his Austin-based company had a longstanding plan to get together to play Dungeons and Dragons – but it took a pandemic to make it happen. “We missed each other, and were isolated – some with kids, some alone – so we needed a way to interact with our grownup friends,” he explains. “And the fact that D&D is pure escapism provided us all with a much-needed break from real-world worries.”
With Skype as their video platform and Kivett as dungeon master (the game leader), the five embarked on a digital journey of collaborative play. Along the way, meaningful friendships were developed. “We’ve seen sides of each other you wouldn’t normally see in the office,” Kivett notes. The game has continued despite one person leaving the company for a new job and another logging in from out-of-state – and has no sign of abating. “We’ve been watching these characters develop for six months,” Kivett says. “It’s such a joy knowing that we’ll stay connected and can keep doing this.”
A Chat Group for Parent-Colleagues Creates a Culture of Understanding
The strain of juggling parenting, online schooling, and remote work in the contained space of a home has led to a number of different coping solutions over the last year. At Hinge, a marketing and research firm in the Washington, DC suburbs, that has meant setting up a Google chat group designed specifically for parents. “Being able to share struggles with people who are struggling with the same issues, or even where we can learn strategies from each other, has been priceless,” says Hinge partner Elizabeth Harr. “We really have come to depend on it as a way to decompress.”
The key to the success of the chat group has been turning the daily stresses into grist for humor. This has meant sharing details that likely would not have been shared in a standard work environment, such as forgetting to feed a child lunch or trying to talk them into watching an extended movie during a conference call. And just as important as the group has been the general culture of understanding the crisis has fostered.
“Sometimes a kid is just going to show up in your meetings to show you a special drawing they made for you, and we don’t make each other feel bad even if it interrupts things for a few seconds,” explains Harr. “Understanding how to bring a little more humanity to the way we interact with each other is something we’ll keep with us, pandemic or no pandemic.”
Old Friends Reunite With a Millennial-Focused Vlog
Like many college friends, Katie Centabar and Hayley Humiston found themselves far apart after graduation, with Centabar heading to Arlington, VA and Humiston to Albany, NY. While they stayed in touch via texting and social media, they missed hanging out, talking, and watching reality TV. And when the pandemic struck, the sense of isolation became even stronger.
“In quarantine, our worlds shrank,” says Centabar. “All we wanted was to dish about Bravo over a G&T. Since that wasn’t possible, we got creative.” The two friends launched Make it Nice, a vlog dedicated to the friends’ common passions: reality TV and crafting. “Combining our love of crafting and reality TV has been an awesome way to stay connected with each other while also connecting with others through this new medium,” Humiston explains.
Each week, the co-hosts record their conversations on Zoom, edit, and then upload to YouTube. And thanks to the reliability of their broadband, every installment has made its way online to be enjoyed by a wider network of friends – both old and new.
High-Speed Broadband: A Critical Need
If there’s one thing the past year has taught us, it’s that nothing can replace person-to-person contact. But thanks to a recipe of creativity and reliable broadband, friends and families across America have been able to maintain – and even strengthen – their relationships during this challenging era. To learn more about the critical importance of high-speed broadband, and how to ensure we make America 100% connected, visit our campaign on rural broadband.