I’ve been thinking a lot about how loneliness and depression will play a factor in the mass world quarantine.
I’ve battled with depression, and although I haven’t struggled with it much in the past 6 years, I can relate to those who are feeling down.
It’s not unreasonable to think that these mass quarantine measures will result in a rise of addiction, alcoholism, depression and possibly self-harm. We need each other more than ever, but we are forced to remain apart.
What do we do?
A New Age of Digital Community
By now, everyone has become familiar with Zoom. I’ve personally been using Zoom for years to record my podcasts and hold work meetings with my teammates. Our employees live all over the county, including the Philippines, so Zoom has played a critical roll in my own life and business.
I’m inspired to see regular people finding ways to use Zoom as a way to stay connected.
It’s exciting to see the creative ways people are using the platform for businesses, socializing, mental health and community.
Let’s look a little deeper.
Online Recovery Communities
Many people who struggle with addiction or compulsive behaviors find help in group therapy sessions or meetings. Coronavirus started forcing these in-person (mostly 12 step fellowship) meetings to close down, so we acted quickly and created an online meeting platform.
The results have been truly inspiring.
Our first meeting had 8 members. Our second meeting had 20 members and last night, our meeting had 50 members. The response from our community has been great and it’s clear that even with such drastic changes in our daily lives, people will intentionally seek out ways to remain connected.
Granted, the world of recovery lends itself to online meetings. It’s a natural transition to bring people together in such a way.
Even though the circumstances are dreadful, the end result has been uplifting and magnificent. This “group platform” makes me think of all the other membership groups that could benefit from a platform like this.
- online book clubs
- online writing clubs
- mastermind and CEO groups
- trauma therapy for war veterans, sexual assault victims, marriage counseling and more.
This new world of digital connection extends much further than online meetings and counseling sessions.
How are other people and industries finding ways to remain connected?
Online Fitness Programs
The gym closed it’s doors to the public last week, so Alex took lead on building an online fitness program. I attended one of her classes this morning and once again, I was thrilled by the engagement within the members.
Not only was the workout challenging and enjoyable, but you could feel the presence of the other members and the psychological effects of knowing that other people were in the group with you. That membership played an active role in the experience.
It felt different than if I were working out on Facetime with a trainer. I knew that I was part of a group of people and the community compelled me to push through the tough workout when I wanted to quit.
For anyone who works out on a regular basis, you know that group workouts fuel your mind to push through the pain. It’s psychological. There’s something about the shared suffering that makes workouts more enjoyable.
For 45 minutes, I was reminded that I am not alone. I’m happy that the fitness community remains intact. Fitness and exercise will be a critical part of maintaining good mental health throughout this challenging time.
Socializing and Leisure Time in Digital Communities
We need to address the idea that this isolation is going to take its toll on our mental health. We are social beings. We need each other. We need to laugh with one another, touch each other, share stories and share food.
How do we do this?
Again, I’ve been so inspired to see all the ways that humanity is finding ways to stay connected.
Jocelyn, a childhood friend of mine, shared a photo of an “online happy hour” that she attended with her friends and family. What a great idea.
If I were a bar owner or a local coffee shop owner, I would absolutely be trying to set up digital happy hours. Small local businesses are feeling the impact more than anyone. I don’t see any reason why people wouldn’t be willing to donate a couple of bucks in order to participate in a digital community event.
If my local coffee shop down the street (shout out to Ugly Mugs) sent me an email inviting me to a digital hangout, I would absolutely attend and I would absolutely throw $5 into the “tip jar” to support them as best I can.
I know I’m not alone here.
Making the Most of the Situation
It’s imperative that we use these platforms to come together.
What other choice do we have?
Every day, I see more and more examples of people desperately searching for ways to remain connected in this critical time in human history. Just look at some examples below.
- Stunning singing of Italian man from the balcony of his home.
- Pat Flynn is hosting a live YouTube event every morning.
- A man in Rome playing No Woman No Cry out his window on the Saxophone.
I try to find opportunities in bad situations. There is always a way to come out of any situation better off for the experience.
In this case, I am hopeful that this will bring us all together. It will remind us how valuable connection to each other really is and maybe, just maybe, it will show us how insignificant our differences really are.