COVID-19 Update & Questions #1258 (How do I help my friends?) and #1259: (Social-distancing for extroverts)

Hello, readers, thanks for your emails, your support, and your questions in this time of global pandemic. How’s everybody doing? (Yes, I know the first iteration misspelled COVID as Corvid, I ❤ ravens and crows and have been doing it all week, what can I say).

Image: Meme stating that I have gone zero seconds without touching my face.

Personal update: Mr. Awkward and I are both virus-free as far as we can tell (which is no guarantee), but we’re both high-risk people and we are keeping our asthmatic, seasonal-allergy-prone asses home except for one or two essential medical errands. We’re very lucky to be able to do so, and I’m sending so much solidarity and appreciation to people who do the essential jobs to keep everyone fed, housed, not drowning in piles of our own garbage, and receiving necessary medical treatment.

The pharmacy has been out of my ADHD med for almost a month and doesn’t know when they’ll get resupplied. I run out Friday, so, I do not anticipate regular intervals of focused productivity, but who knows what inspiration may come in the hyper-focus zone. Last week, I did what I could to help former colleagues make the sudden switch to online teaching (release the tutorial-kraken!) and I’m working on a piece for Vox (who are doing some very good explainers) about scripts for getting relatives to take this seriously that will go up within the next day or so. I’ll share a link here when it does.

My general plans are to keep writing my morning pages with the #ArtBuddies, pet cats, wash my hands, keep my writing schedule as much as I can, wash my hands, read a ton of books, wash my hands, check in with friends (especially my extroverts) regularly, wash my hands, bug my electeds a ton about getting our collective shit together and getting relief to *people* (not just *workers/employers*), wash my hands, and play many games of “I didn’t know we had this in our pantry, let’s put it on some rice!” in between hand-washings.

And, you know, try not to freak out entirely.

Would you like to look at cats? They almost never share the lap peacefully, so this was a rare pleasure.

Image: Henrietta Kim Wexler Pussycat (closer, darker swirls) and Daniel Jason Mendoza Striped Tiger (further from camera, lighter stripes) share a rare moment of peace on my blanketed lap.

Now for some questions! We’ll call them #1258 and #1259. 

#1258: How can I help friends and family whose livelihood is being affected by the pandemic?

Hi Captain!

I was hoping for advice on how to offer my aid (financial or emotional) in a kind and non-condescending way to friends or family who are not working right now because of COVID-19. These would be people who might need financial assistance to live because they typically live paycheck to paycheck but now they do not have a regular source of income. My husband and I are lucky to have remote jobs but I don’t want to come across like a patronizing privileged asshole. Thanks!

Hello! You are nice! 

Financially-speaking, I want you and your husband to think about your budget for helping and think about concrete offers you could make, like, “Would a $100 gift card for groceries help out right now, or do you want to text me a list and I’ll drop whatever on your porch when I go to the store? Would [store] or [store] work better for you?” or “Do you need help making rent, we could cover up to $X this month.” These aren’t necessarily the exact scripts for making offers, but I want you to be specific and realistic with yourselves about what you can and want to do, and think in terms of concrete offers you could make within your limits. 

A stressful thing about being offered (even highly welcome!) financial help is not knowing how much or what you are allowed to ask for – Is this the situation where all the theater and film kids and activists in Chicago have been passing the same $20-50 around since 2003, or are you somebody who can keep somebody’s lights on for a bit? Being able to gently reach out and say “We’re lucky to be able to work from home, we’ve set some money aside to help friends & family cover financial emergencies right now, anything from grocery gift cards or help with bills, please don’t hesitate” and also make clear “This is a gift, pay it forward when you’re on your feet, not back” will take the stress off everybody. It’s the same principle behind taking a friend who is struggling financially out for a meal and saying from the start, “I’d love to buy you lunch” or “Remember, this is all on me.” Knowing where your budget and boundaries and intentions are before you offer help removes the guesswork that leads to worry that leads to the person you’re trying to feed up ordering The Water and The Bread just in case you didn’t really mean it.

Emotionally-speaking, if you’re offering help, that’s also a good place to ask what people need (before helping) and also specify what kind of help you can offer and when. “Let me know if you need any help” puts the onus on the person who needs help to brainstorm stuff at the intersection of what they actually need vs. what you can actually do. If you say “I can do x and y, could you use help with any of that?” a person who needs different help they can always tell you, “No, but could you do ______?” and you can figure it out together. Some things I’ve seen:

  • “Need me to do Skype story-time with the kids so you can take a shower and hear yourself think for an hour?”
  • “Are there some bureaucratic phone calls I could make for you? Do you need help filing for temporary unemployment or filling out forms for rental assistance?”
  • “Want to text me before and after your doctor appointment? You can tell me how it went and I can distract you.” 
  • “I can do some free tech support for your grandparents if you want someone to teach them about webcams and Face-Time.” 

People are stretched thin and sensitive so this is a good time to refresh sympathy vs. advice vs. distraction best practices:

  • “Do you want advice or are you venting?” 
  • “Do you want to talk about it or do you want to Studiously Not Talk About It?” (Do you want commiseration or distraction?)
  • “I’m happy to listen, but before I forget, is there something specific you’d like me to do?” 

People asking for emotional support can help remove guesswork by saying what they need even if the listening friend doesn’t ask: “If I want advice, I’ll ask, but right now I just need to think out loud.” “I’ve had a terrible day and I don’t want to talk about it, but I could use some distraction. Are you caught up on Better Call Saul yet?” Give us an idea of the threat level, if possible. “I am spiraling and I urgently need someone to talk me down *right now.*” Ok! Let me drop everything, or find you somebody who can. “I’d really love to hear your voice and see your face in the next couple of days, can we make a Skype date?” We can work with that! We’re in an emergency, and emergencies call for directness. If you ask somebody how they are, expect to hear the real answer. If you need something from somebody, help them give it to you.

One thing I’m personally noticing about long-distance emotional support: This is obviously a “my diamond shoes pinch” situation because I do have many kind people who want to check on me, and that is a lucky thing, but seeing a bunch of messages and texts and emails all at once that just say some version of “How are you?” is stressing me out, especially when it comes from people I don’t talk with very much under better/normal circumstances. Are we connecting or am I reporting back? Thanks for checking on me, I don’t have this number in my phone, can you remind me who it belongs to? It’s making me feel a little like when Mr. Awkward was in the hospital and I suddenly ran a 24-7 medical update and general chitchat line, fielding prayer offers from everybody he’d ever met who wanted to know how he was doing.

People love him a lot and this was mostly very good, and I do not regret sending 150+ “Thank you, I’ll tell him you were thinking about him” texts or generally handling this for him. (It’s how I could help.) Checking on friends & neighbors & relatives is a kind & good & necessary thing that I definitely don’t want to add a “you must get the wording right” pressure to (Please, 100% risk doing it imperfectly vs. not doing it!), but what might help me right now is people who want to get in touch out of the blue and/or people I don’t talk to very often sharing something about how they are doing as they check how I am, so we have an obvious thing to chat about and can work in the “how are you” exchange organically, like so:

  • “We built a soap dispenser out of Lego today (photo). How are things with you?”
  • “Please enjoy these costumes I put on the dog/the houseplants/the children (photo). How are things (d)evolving in Fort Awkward this week?”
  • “Found this old photo of us getting ready to go to prom (photo). Can you still make your hair that big?” 
  • “I’m feeling strangely calm (or is it dead inside?). Howabout you?”
  • “I used to be jealous of people who worked from home. Never again. How do you do this all the time?” 
  • Like I said, even “Hey, I’m really freaking out right now, can we chat on the phone for a little while?” helps me get in the right frame of mind, whereas if you start with “How are you?” and make us do the polite back and forth it just makes more anxiety for everyone. 

Again, this is personal to me, about a thing that is stressing me, specifically out, not a guide for what everyone should do in every case, but I offer it up in case it would help anybody else. Definitely feel free to adapt it for your online dating/flirting purposes by replacing boring “Hey”/”What’s up?” texts and IMs with sharing a thing [NOT AN UNSOLICITED IMAGE OF UR NAKED GENITALS, COME ON, KEEP IT CLASSY] and then asking a thing.

Now for the next question: 

#1259: “I’m an extrovert. Social Distancing is my nightmare.” 

Hi Captain Awkward & Co!

I’ve been avidly following your column for years, and it’s been very helpful to me, especially since I’m a serious extrovert who mostly swims in introverted waters (I work in tech, and my hobbies include gaming, crafting, etc – basically my entire social circle is introverted. It’s a balance, to keep friends without being obnoxious or annoying.)

The pandemic sweeping into the US is throwing me for a loop, though. For background, what I mean by “serious extrovert” is, my way of staying mentally stable and healthy is literally other people’s idea of hell: I go out in crowds by myself and talk to strangers. If I don’t do this regularly, like once or twice a month, I dive pretty badly. I get anxious, and withdrawn, and tired. I can’t focus. I sleep too much. Everything makes me irritable. My household has a code-phrase to gently throw me out of the house to go socialize until I’m myself again; it’s a little bit of a joke, at this point.

Clearly, that’s not going to work for the next few months. I worked from home this past week for ONE day; after 5 hours I felt like I was crawling out of my skin. I fully expect within the next week, my office is going to mandate remote work for everyone indefinitely. Which is the right thing to do! In theory, I approve of all these measures, they’re very important!

I have a two-fold question, though. For me, and other extroverts like me, do you have any ideas on how to stay sane? How can I fill that social need at least enough to get by for indeterminate amount of time? I have depression and generalized anxiety disorder*, enough that I have several minor anxiety attacks a week when things are going well. When they’re going badly, it’s a few a day and several panic attacks a week. I don’t want to backslide (I do have medication and a therapist) more than I have to to keep my community safe.

And on the other side, naturally all my social media feeds are filled with “Introverts! You’ve been waiting for this!!” ‘joke’ memes. I get the need to make fun of the scary time we’re in. I don’t resent any particular one. But the deluge of them is killing me; I feel completely othered, and like I can’t talk to a large portion of my circle about why I’m so anxious about this. (My partners are great, it’s everyone else that’s making me twitch.) Normally, I’d just shut off social media for a few days or a week, but I’m not seeing anybody either! Doing both feels impossible. Is there a solution I can’t see?

*If I get any “bUt EXtRovErTs DoN’t hAVe AnXiETy” comments, I’m going to cry. I have to fight that battle too much as it is. That’s not how GAD works.

 Thank you,

Social Butterfly (they/them)

Dear Social Butterfly: 

Hello, thank you for your timely question.

For people who need a social distancing explainer/review, this one is very good. See also: This graphic/explainer. For our purposes, I am going to assume that people know these four things:

  • Social distancing is an incredible act of solidarity. Those of us who can stay home are saving lives by “flattening the curve,” i.e. slowing the spread of the virus to hopefully allow overwhelmed medical facilities and researchers time and resources to handle urgent cases and work on vaccines/treatments, respectively. If you think or know you are sick, stay home, and call your doctor/urgent care on the phone for instructions before you show up at a clinic. If you are not sick and you can stay home, then stay home except for absolutely necessary trips out. When you must go out, keep your distance from people and avoid crowds.
  • Not everyone can stay home right now. Some people are saving lives in doctor’s offices and hospitals, keeping us fed, preventing us from being buried in piles of garbage, delivering our necessities, keeping the lights on and the toilets flushing. That’s before we even get to people who are going to work because they need to earn a living. We need to be really kind, thoughtful, and supportive of these folks, always. 
  • Staying home (for those of us who can) for the next few weeks helps the people who cannot. The people who cannot do all the necessary work that helps us stay home. The more we can help people stay home (by canceling social events we’re hosting, with mutual aid, and by say, pressuring governments and employers to make it possible for people to afford food, rent, medicine, etc. and access necessary testing and care instead of going to work sick or at risk of infecting people because they need to pay bills), the more lives we’ll save. 
  • The challenges many of us are suddenly dealing with are not new – Disabled people have been fighting to work at home, to have meds and other necessities delivered, to have telemedicine covered, and to have 1,000 other accommodations that go from “special treatment” to “the norm” as soon as “everyone” needs them. People with suppressed immune systems and other conditions that need isolation and effort and expense around keeping a sterile, clean home environment have had to make whole social and professional lives work from a safe distance. We can learn from them now, we must fight for and with them – and against ableist eugenics and fascism forever. When things go “back to normal” for able-bodied people, we can’t leave anyone behind.

I’m leaving comments on this post because I think our community could use the discussion and connection right now, but I need to be absolutely clear: This is not debate time. Nor is this “every possible detail of pandemic exploring time.” I’m not an epidemiologist or public health expert, and I’m translating what I’ve gleaned: Stay home, save lives. Get our vulnerable neighbors who cannot stay home fed, housed, and safe, save lives. Help the people who keep the world running save lives (by staying home if you can). If you can’t stay home, I believe you! Do what you need to do, you don’t have to explain. But optional socializing – even if it feels really important for an extroverted person like our lovely letter writer – is dangerous. If you can handle it, watch Italians make videos talking to the person they were 10 days ago. (If you don’t think you can handle it, practice good self-care and don’t. Maybe enjoy this Grandma instead?) 

Good talk, everyone! 

Now for the letter’s specifics.

Hello again! 

A thing I tell myself/every fellow diagnosable anxiety sufferer who writes me: Treat the anxiety to the extent you can. You have medication and a therapist, that’s awesome. Do your providers do telemedicine and is it covered by your insurance? Find out. Do you have therapy homework/workbooks/exercises/strategies/daily practices that have worked to manage anxiety in the past? Dig them out. The Headspace daily meditation app (mentioned in a past resource here) is offering a lot of their content for free, and I mention it because I have personally found it really enjoyable and useful. Obviously again, YMMV but if “reviews from a hater who was sure she would never be able to do any kind of meditating or mindfulness” are interesting to you, there you go.

I say this because, even experienced anxiety-havers tend to skip this part as we start imagining dire scenarios and looking around for tips and tools, but often we already have some basic things in place. Use them, use everything you already know and have. ❤

The second thing I remind myself/every fellow diagnosable anxiety sufferer who writes in is: Where possible, translate the anxious energy into *action.* 

Scanning all the details of everything related to the pandemic is technically an action, but that’s not the action I’m talking about. You’re feeling anxious, so what are you going to do? What can you do? Make lists of things you can do. Don’t judge, you can put ridiculous, impossible things on there. But make lists. Who can you call? What do you need? And what can you do? 

Some ideas for your lists: 

You need a daytime routine where you figure out how to work from home, get some of your social needs met, take care of yourself and your physical plan as well as your space/environment, and ride this out. 

  • Make a set schedule and try to stick to it. Doing the same things at the same time every day will give you a sense of normalcy. Take a shower. Put on clean clothes. (They can be really comfortable clothes, just, try not to wear the same ones 4 days in a row). I am the worst at this but I grudgingly concede that it works. 
  • As you design a new daily routine for yourself, one of your tasks is probably “treat/pamper/baby the anxiety.” Set aside at least 30 minutes every weekday for necessary research, bureaucracy, phone calls, and actually doing the exercises/meditating/what have you. Invest in a weighted blanket, it will help when you are missing hugs. You may find yourself taking your “as needed” meds more often than usual, but if you need to, you need to. 
  • Use timers and work in bursts and take breaks to get up and move your body. 
  • Plan your meals and definitely eat lunch, away from your desk if possible. 
  • If you live with partners/roommates, schedule ahead of time and make lunch a social thing that you eat together at a table. If you live alone, maybe make lunch a social thing with your favorite coworker or coworkers. 
  • If nobody’s available for lunch, do what introverts do when we work in busy/social offices: Read! Or find a friendly podcast if the vibe of conversation is what you need but you don’t want to spend the time scrolling your phone: I am loving You’re Wrong About
  • If you have a laptop and the ability to move where your desk *is,* my physical therapist recommends moving to different spots/seating positions throughout the day to save your back/knees/wrists. 

Socially speaking, you are the extrovert in a sea of introverts, ergo, you are probably now your friend group’s new self-appointed Minister Of Fun.

  • Possibly you are the arranger of Virtual Happy Hours.
  • Maybe you are the person who is going to figure out the Netflix Party extension for Chrome. 
  • I have not tried this app/site, but it is one of many I have seen linked for people who want to have a long-distance karaoke night
  • Is it time for Virtual Iron Chef involving your weirdest pantry staples? 
  • What games lend themselves well to play over Discord or Google Hangouts or another chat program? 
  • You probably aren’t going to be able to get everyone together even online as much as you want, so may I suggest “small, regular, predictable windows of time” and “calendar invites to specific people at specific times.” It’s easy to miss or ignore a general “Hey everyone” event, so, target that stuff. 
  • When you make a daily schedule for yourself, can you  put “look at/engage with social media” in specific blocks of time and use one of the apps that blocks you the rest of the time, so you can be more intentional about it? 
  • Can you use your social media to find other extroverts? Things I’ve seen in my feed over the past few days (but do not have time to go back and turn up at present – kindly use your own Search-fu and judgment): A virtual prom where people are going to get all dressed up in their best clothes and take photos and videos, at least ten separate groups/lists that parents & teachers made for stuff to educate and amuse kids, including one (I think) that’s just “We’re scientists who will Skype your child for up to x minutes to talk about y subject, reserve your time block.” Numerous online DJ listening sessions, at-home dance parties. 
  • Write letters, postcards, make phone calls to people you love who live far away from you. Maybe people can’t feed your need for contact just now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to feed them and see if making the effort and taking action feeds you in return.
  • Use calendar invites to plan actual dates with partners and friends (for phone calls/FaceTime and mutual fun). “Let’s catch up sometime” isn’t going to cut it right now. Vagueness isn’t going to cut it for you.“I know that at 8pm we are going to eat an edible and watch CATS together” can get a person through a day. 

Possibly your extrovert love and energy can be adapted to other kinds of organizing: 

  • Mutual aid/errands/for neighbors.
    • Does your building need a rotating schedule for disinfecting doorknobs, railings, mailboxes, light-switches and who should walk their dogs when?
    • Are you going to the pharmacy, does anybody need meds or other supplies picked up, can there be Google doc and agreed-upon way to pay?
    • How will people know if someone gets sick and/or tests positive? Perhaps you are the maker/keeper of your building or block’s spreadsheet and phone tree and balcony choir. 
  • Look around for local mutual aid Facebook or other social media groups where you live. I got added to one last week, it’s amazing, and I think it’s where tons of extroverts are channeling their energies. That’s where I found out about online karaoke, for example. Maybe another friend group’s lone extrovert is your new plague-buddy. 
  • Phone-banking for a cause or candidate and bugging your elected officials.

What are some things you could do to be very nice to your body and your living environment right now? If you’re physically up for it, stress-cleaning is useful cleaning that will pay off if you or someone in your household gets sick. Change the sheets. Do the laundry. Hang up the art you’ve been meaning to. Moisturize. Find some sexy playthings for idle hands. Find one of the many, many yoga (or other exercise) instructors who are running free online classes right now. 

Finally, if you’ve ever wanted to take up a hobby/learn a skill that takes practice and dedicated concentration, this is probably the time. But also, REST IS OKAY. REST IS NORMAL. REST IS NECESSARY. 

I can’t lie – it’s going to get worse before it gets better, and there are some instances  where virtual interaction and immersion in the arts/hobbies, etc. won’t be enough – but you are being so smart right now. You are reaching out, asking for help, making plans, taking your meds, doing what you can. We are social animals (yes, even introverts) and we are resourceful animals and you are not going to be alone at being alone. Speaking of which: The author of How To Be Alone is hosting a regular talk show on the topic of How To Be Alone

Discussion Notes:

Comments are open. Here are some of the things I’d like to read today: 

  • One thing you are personally doing to help or stay connected with other people during necessary social-distancing or outright quarantine. 
  • One thing you are personally doing to take care of yourself during necessary social-distancing or outright quarantine.
  • If you’re somebody who must go to work, what’s one thing you wish the inside kids knew that could help you be/feel safer and do your job well? 
  • One link per post of an online event or group or resource you think might help either letter writer with a brief description of what that is and why you like it. 
  • Short questions you have about manners/social life/etiquette/scripts for being good to yourself and other people during this weird time, and community answers to those questions. Let’s do some mutual aid right here!
  • One or two concrete suggestions specifically from people with experience having to do most or all of their social life remotely.  

If I could limit comment word count/characters with WordPress I would, but I cannot, so I must ask this enthusiastic, helpful, and wordy bunch to help me out: We do not have to cover every possibility here. If you start making long lists of everything cool you saw on the internet or that you are doing as you write your comment, that’s a sign that you are probably writing your own blog post – GREAT! 🙂 – Definitely write it, then link us to that post and a brief description of it as your contribution instead of posting 1200 words and seventeen links as a comment. 

What I do NOT want to read in this comment section this week:

  • Medical advice. 
  • Medical articles.
  • Medical facts. 
  • Medical theories.
  • Medical tips.
  • Medical statistics.
  • Medical questions.
  • Medical anxieties.
  • Medical descriptions.
  • Medical rumors.
  • COVID-19 facts/details/tidbits/explainers/news.
  • Medical anything.
  • Please hold off on recipes for food, food complaints/issues, details about food allergies, dietary restrictions, or eating. (It’s personal to me, I Just Can’t Right Now, Thank You, there are many sites/communities/social portals ABOUT food, that stuff is useful/necessary but this isn’t the spot). “This site with recipes for pantry staples is what’s getting me through” + a link = okay. “Here’s my recipe for _____. /Does anyone have a recipe for ____?” = Please take it elsewhere, thanks. 
  • Electioneering. (Text- or phone-banking reaches actual voters, probably do that!) 
  • Introverts venting or complaining about extroverts. (You heard Letter Writer #1259 – LET’S JUST NOT. Also, introverts, check on and appreciate your friendly extroverts, they’re not okay right now and they could use some love in exchange for the 10 parties they threw and invited us to even if we didn’t go to eight of them.)  

I’m sending everyone love, solidarity, hope, and gratitude. Our lives are going to change so much in coming weeks, and I know it’s so scary right now, but even amid the scary news and administrative failures, everywhere I look I see people organizing, helping each other, and brainstorming ways to connect and give back. We’re going to do our best to get each other through this, and our best is pretty good. 


283 thoughts on “COVID-19 Update & Questions #1258 (How do I help my friends?) and #1259: (Social-distancing for extroverts)

  1. My work group is 3 full time staff, me (doctoral student/staff), and our PI/my boss. When the possibility of going remote was first brought up, I very seriously told my boss how thoroughly my mental health would tank if I didn’t have any human interaction for weeks on end. His suggestions were:
    1. Have a slack channel for us to communicate. Result: We have a slack channel for the staff. Our PI hasn’t been invited. We chat. We might make a work channel and invite him later.
    2. Have a google hangout or zoom meeting just going most of the time, with everyone on mute and their cameras off until they need to talk about something. When/if we go totally remote, I might suggest we take lunch together once in a while.

    For my situation, I think these are workable solutions. We aren’t totally remote yet, so we haven’t had to do the full time hangout/zoom thing yet, but I feel a lot better knowing that some consideration has been made for this. I also think the video meeting/chat could be adaptable for other people?

  2. After seeing loads of friends on facebook who are a) extroverted and/or b) scared folks in high-risk groups – and after realizing how scary of a place facebook/twitter are becoming with a constant feed of scary news, at a time where we need more than ever to lean on virtual forms of connection – I decided to create a Discord server and invite friends to it, in the hopes of sort of creating a little community where we could compartmentalize the scarier stuff into specific channels within the server (that can be ignored or muted if needed) while also being able to share and chat (and ask for help as needed). There’s a channel there specifically for covid news and conversation, another for asking/giving support, one that’s just a “post your happy/funny/cute things here!”, and others for sharing creative pursuits, planning virtual movie nights, etc.

    I started it Sunday, and there’s like 13 people there so far and it’s shaping up to be a really lovely little place. We’re currently planning a virtual movie night using this website, which I’d had a chance to test out with a few folks the other day and worked brilliantly for us:

    1. My partner is working on setting up a “depression Discord” for everyone to chat, since we’re in one of the outbreak zones, and we have people with young children and immunocompromised people. Once they’re off the phone I’ll poke them to make a separate channel for all the illness stuff and designate all the rest as COVID-free, to keep the anxiety as contained as possible. We’re trying to get some D&D going over voice chat so there’s at least *some* human interaction. I’ll suggest movie night too.

      I already have a routine with my extended family in Europe (I’m in the US) where, once or twice a month, I’ll send them a picture of my latest craft project or something, and we’ll talk about baking/knitting/etc and they’ll send back pictures of what they’re doing. One of my cousins recently taught our grandma how to take a selfie, so I had the delightful experience of getting a selfie from my elderly grandma with one of the books she introduced me to.

      1. Some of my friends are D&D people and when everyone started moving to different cities years ago they all started finding online programs for it. My husband would play a game or two with them sometimes and there’s quite a range of online options for it. They had one with a map to view, chat and even video functions built right in.

        Also, if people are into other games, Steam has a ton of multiplayer games at reasonable prices (and even some free!) and has a chat function built in. Lots of great ways to connect and have fun!

        1. My DM is, unfortunately, being kept pretty busy right now. (He’s a lawyer in the EU.) But I hope we’ll be able to settle in and fill out a session this weekend, the last time we did that we brought down an entire ancient temple, made friends with a giant snake, and I got to throw our cheerful, power-of-friendship monk into a healing lake by the scruff of his neck. (I’m the tank – Druid – and SOMEHOW all my squishy magic users keep getting in trouble!)

          1. Aww I hope you can get in some fun time soon. 🙂 I enjoy watching the games but I’ve always been more of a puzzle/open sandbox (minecraft/terraria) player. The stories and crazy things that happen during D&D games are so great though! Some could easily be made into books.

          2. We had to put our regular (homebrew) campaign on hold because one of the three group members (the others are Spouse and me) has to come by train. We had a game over IRC in the past, but Spouse (the GM) is a programmer so types all day, and it would be unreasonable to make him type all evening as well. Video call doesn’t work either because I freeze up completely when faced with a camera, and even voice-only would probably keep me too self-conscious to play. But Spouse and I have a one-on-one campaign on the side (with characters from the previous story arc of the main one) and that keeps us going!

    2. I love this idea. Especially since Facebook doesn’t allow you to mute specific keywords or topics, just people, but I want to stay in touch with those people even if I don’t want to see a constant stream of articles. Thanks for sharing!

      1. You can get an add-on in Firefox called Social Fixer that lets you block things on Facebook. 🙂

        I’ve also set up a Facebook private group where people can invite their friends, and the rule is that you talk only about stuff that cheers people up and social events; no mentioning corona or politics. Only just started, but it was amazing how fast people signed up! Our first Zoom party will be this weekend.

    3. One of our friends made a similar Slack and I’m finding it really lovely as a way to keep up with the people I usually see in person.

  3. My gardening forums were noting that a lot of local garden centers had run out of start-of-season supplies, so I started a (porch pick-up, no-contact) seed-giveaway thread. I’ve given away 10 bundles of local-season appropriate seeds & seed-raising mix to people in my neighbourhood who are now working from home & taking the opportunity to start a garden, and am really excited to keep in touch with all their progress. The thing I like most about it is being able to be a warm, welcoming introduction to a world that people were maybe looking into from a place of fear and apprehension.

    1. As someone who has worked from home for a couple years before this, it’s really cheering to wake up in the morning and check on baby plants (aka see physical changes in your environment when it tends to be static).

    2. What a lovely thing to do!

      Planting carrots and spinach has been really cheering me up and taking the edge off my shelter in place related blues. Also, seeing that the fava beans and coriander seeds I scattered last fall have sprouted is making me feel a lot better.

      Take care, everyone! This is a great community and you all are awesome!

  4. Hi extrovert! One thing you might do is contact your local Meals on Wheels program if you are totally healthy. They all still need volunteers to drop off food to older adults, including a whole new crowd who used to go to senior centers for food and are now stuck at home. You can chat with people that way! Assuming you’re in the US, go to mealsonwheelsamerica dot org to find your local center.

    1. Love this. 🙂

      My plan for today is to put the wheels in motion to volunteer some time at my local food bank. I think a lot of services that rely on volunteers are being hard hit at the moment as much of the voluntary workforce are older and/or in other at-risk groups and need to self-isolate.

      1. Came here to say almost the same! I volunteer for my local food bank already, but love it as an opportunity to meet new people as most of what we do is sorting food, so it’s easy to have conversations. Not sure what it will be like if few volunteers can show, but there seems to be lots of opportunity to meet people with cool stories (like the woman who witnessed a couple get married on a boat explorer tour off the coast of Antarctica)! Meals on Wheels is also a good idea. You can talk to old people through the screen door and in my experience they have a lot of really interesting stories if you chat them up!

  5. My siblings and I have a scheduled daily meme blast and group chat where we send each other funny stuff and joke around with each other for 30-60 minutes. This way my sister in quarantine gets some group interaction and love from her sibs every day, but also my sister that has to get up at 4 am is not disturbed at 10 pm because somebody just HAD to share this cat gif immediately and we all had something to say about it, and we don’t have to get confused about time zones with my sib who lives out of state.

  6. For filling up time, and dealing with my anxiety, I’d like to recommend the excellent new Khan Academy (100% free) meditations. They also have some great classes. They just sent out some emails to say that they are doing their best to provide extra servers/classes ASAP.

    1. Do you have a link to these? When I Google it, I just find a class on what meditation is, can’t find the meditation classes!

      1. Sure thing! (There are intro videos in this list, but the ones that are over a minute long have actual meditations),

  7. A friend and I were talking about meeting up to knit/crochet (before all this happened); now we’re planning on doing it by Skype once she adjusts to working from home and her kid being home all day as well.

    1. Skype has come a long way! I did a 2-hr Skype chat with my parents on Christmas Eve as they had their traditional supper and I made tamales for my non-traditional-to-me dinner. It was lovely — felt like I was really with them. I have the worst, slowest internet and a pretty generic laptop (it was a great laptop… 5 years ago) but it all still worked great!

    2. A bunch of friends and I had a Zoom meeting for a crafting evening tonight. Some people colored, some people knitted or sewed, some people were just puttering around in the kitchen. But it lasted for a few hours, and people dropped in and out as their schedules and energy allowed, and we all just hung out in our own (respective) living rooms, and it was really lovely.

  8. Any tips on dealing with claustrophobia/feeling trapped? My level of human interaction is good, but being stuck inside has me increasingly anxious. I’ve been under mandatory self-isolation for a month, and as of today, my area is under a mandatory shelter-at-home order for at least three weeks. It’s been a very long spring.

    (I’m doing okay – I either have COVID-19 or a REALLY long-lasting seasonal flu, because I’ve had a fever for literally a month straight. My doctor isn’t worried, and we’re keeping tabs on it – but since my immune system is already working on something, I’m in a higher-risk group too, so I’m not even going out for groceries. Arghhhh.)

    1. Do you have a balcony or a big window that you can open to get some sun and fresh air? If not, can you order a large, nice, realistic poster with a view that you like, maybe a potted plant as well, and convert a room into a facsimile of outdoors? I have this sunrise-simulator alarm clock with sunset simulation and relaxing nature sounds that’s been a lifesaver, maybe it could help you set a more outdoorsy mood (link to Amazon site here:

      1. Good idea, maybe some friends would be willing to lend you all their indoor plants for a while (contactless drop off of course) to turn your room into a mini greenhouse?

    2. Not a cheap solution by any means, but a VR headset might be helpful in this. Some of those apps can be extremely immersive and make you feel like you’re outside. I got my mom an Oculus Quest for the holidays and she adores it.

    3. Do you have a car, and how strong are you feeling? I’m also under mandatory shelter-in-place (hellooo Bay Area!), but there are specific exceptions for outdoor activity for the purposes of exercise, with examples of hiking, biking, and running. Only caveat is that you should keep 6ft between you and other people.

      Basically going to a local nature reserve/park where you have enough space to not be close to people and don’t have to touch doors (or anything!) is very, very low-risk, to either catch or spread COVID-19.

      If you’re not feeling up to a stroll and you have a car, you could possibly also drive to a nearby scenic overview spot, and just sit in the car with the windows down and look at NOT HOME for a bit.

    4. I’m kinda guessing here, but could stretching and exercise help? I don’t get claustrophobic, but my body does get weird if I’m not moving it enough, and sometimes the muscles seem to want proof that, yes, there is space for them to move as far as they can.

      1. Was going to suggest this too, if you are feeling well enough to do some gentle exercise there are tons of short yoga videos on YouTube, and maybe connecting with your body for a bit could help?

        1. Started a new yoga app (it’s free during Covid) and I like it okay so far. I’ve gotta work around some of the settings because of my joints, but I did most of that work in figuring out alternate positions with my original yoga teacher. 🙂

    5. The bird conversation below inspired this suggestion – can you order (by internet or postmates-type delivery) a small bird feeder and some bird seed? There are many feeder styles that can be attached to a window if you live in an apartment or if your yard lacks an appropriate hanging spot. Any kind of mixed bird seed is a fine place to start.

      1. In a bad season a few years ago, I found sitting in my house with a cup of tea in the sunniest spot I could find made a huge difference. Good luck!

    6. I definitely second the plants or balcony. Opening a window for a bit, even if it’s chilly, can help. Feeling the breeze come in and getting that fresher air, hearing noises from outside. If you’re a video game type person, letting yourself get a bit lost in a sandbox/open world type game can give your brain that feeling of doing things.

      I hope you start feeling better soon! ❤

    7. If you have a balcony or yard, you could try sitting outside while you talk on the phone or online. It may sound silly, but this helped me when I was really sick a few years ago and I couldn’t go out. I pretended that I was sitting outside in a cafe, chatting with friends. Really, just spending as much time sitting outside as I could made me feel better, even when I was not able to go anywhere and I wasn’t strong enough to do anything.
      Jedi hugs! I hope you feel better soon!

  9. Your cats are so darn cute! 🙂 Best wishes for making it through this pandemic. I can’t imagine how scary this situation must be for someone in a high risk group.

  10. Hello! I’m an extrovert who lives alone in a quarantined area, so this post hit me right in the feels. Thank you very much for hosting and moderating the discussion, Captain. I know it’s an effort for you, but it really helps. Thank you, sincerely.

    So! My one thing that I’m doing to stay connected and help others do so: I’m organising a Skype Trivial game with three friends. It’s gonna be great fun! Still deciding whether we’ll use an online game or whether I’ll whip out my Trivial Pursuit Genus Edition and move everybody’s pieces down the board myself.

    My one thing that I’m doing to take care of myself is that I’ve ordered myself a nice greasy delivery dinner today. On the plus side, this helps the local small restaurants, which are really suffering from the sudden forced close & switch to delivery-only. The delivery person and I kept a very nice safety distance with security measures and I tipped well.

    Hope everybody is surviving out there. We are not alone, and we are getting through this. Take care, everyone ❤

    1. Similar to you, I’m making (with the help of my disabled nephew) a family and friends game. Silly questions like ‘which one of the X family once accidentally caused an explosion while doing her virology degree?’ (That one was me…) and ‘which under 15 person can curl their tongue upside down?’

      To be honest, getting everyone to submit questions is tremendous fun! I’ve found out my great aunt worked as a code breaker for instance!

    2. I’d like to add to this, that as another person living in a quarantined area, my social life has actually not been this active since I was in my twenties. The thing is, everyone is in the same boat, and looking for contact. Where I would have gone out with friends once a week (normally too tired to go out that much) I am having online drinks with friends most nights now.

      We set up a video call, but we make sure to treat it as if we were seeing each other in person. So we each have a drink, a plate of crisps on the table…if it’s 5pm we have afternoon tea. If it’s eight we have a couple of beers.

      The good thing is that it works with the people you normally see, but also then you set it up with people from your home town, people you haven’t seen for a while…and hopefully we will carry on once this period is over.

      Planning to set up a quiz night too soon. It’s working very well for us, and I would suggest trying it for anyone who is missing social contact.

    3. Delurking to chime in that we played virtual Scattergories the other night with friends via video call. Aside from discovering, after the first round, that our respective sets had lists that were almost-but-not-quite identical, and that whilst I had rolled a K they had heard me say A, it worked very well indeed. I scanned and emailed them pdfs of our lists, we had the die and the timer, and it was a very diverting way to pass a couple of hours.

  11. Saw a meme I want to share: It’s COVID-19, not CORVID-19. Nineteen crows aren’t coming to kill you, but if they did… it’d be a murder.

    1. Hahaha that’s amazing. I’m entertaining myself these days by watching a pair of crows making a nest across the street, under the watchful eye of a little red hummingbird.

      1. Aww! I have a dove nest outside my window that has been giving me similar joy!

        Fun bird fact! Little birds like sparrows (and perhaps hummingbirds?) sometimes will make their nests very close to the nest of a much larger bird. The sparrows are quick enough to escape the crows, but the crows are big and mean enough to keep away other predators like raccoons that otherwise would threaten the sparrow babies. Maybe your hummers are doing something similar!

    2. I’m working from home temporarily and have found myself writing a series of emails to various organizations looking for information on [discipline]. I realized on Friday that I had explained to several of them that I needed replies by email because I could not access my phone due to “CORVID”-19. Fortunately, I did not write this to the state nursing association, who passed my email around to at least four people and is also, well, a medical organization. *Facepalm*.

      On the other hand, if anyone is starting a metal band and needs a name, CORVID-19 is up for grabs.

  12. I have a friend who is doing a series of video chats with people about “the most interesting thing” in their home! He records them and posts them to his Facebook. It is really cool to see people get excited and talk about something they love in their home!

  13. Virtual board games night! Try either Tabletopia (free for small numbers of players, premium cost for larger numbers, I think it’s browser based) or Tabletop Simulator (costs a small amount of money for the software, individual games only have to be bought once by a “host”). Combine with some sort of voice chat so everyone can trash talk each other.

    Also if you want to use netflix party with international friends, can be used to check that the movie is available in everyone’s country.

    1. Thank you so much for these recommendations! My partner’s and my closest friends are board game people who live around the corner from us. We’re used to being in and out of each other’s homes like we’re family and playing Ticket to Ride together on random weeknights so this has been hard for us as a group. I was trying to think of games we both own physical copies of and could Skype our way through. This seems way better.

      1. For some board games (Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne) there are app versions you can play in real time with others. My husband and I would play these the last couple of months while I was away for A Thing. We could talk in the phone (and have fun trash talking each other) while playing that made for a fun time.

  14. For #1259 Sign up for one of the language conversation platforms. You could even earn a bit of money. (Try You are a native English speaker, plenty of interesting strangers around the world would love to chat with you on Skype while they practise their English skills. You don’t have to have teaching credentials, it’s enough to just be a conversation partner.

    I’m using my lock-down time in Europe to do some intensive language learning and am enjoying chatting to a range of strangers as we share our experiences at this strange moment in history.

    1. This is such a great idea! And caters almost exactly to what the LW was needing, conversation time with strangers 🙂

  15. Had a virtual tea party with my nieces and sister today. Legit, we all dressed in fancy dresses, made cookies, made tea, and sat down in from of the computer.

  16. — Two friends and I have all gotten the app version of the board game Ticket to Ride (you build train routes between cities on ‘boards’ that are different countries or larger regions). We play about a game per day and have some periods where we are clearly all actively playing, and some where it is going slowly because some of us are busy, but it just feels like a little fun check moment in the day.
    — For mindfulness I really love the Insight Timer app–it has guided meditations where you can search by length, topic, gender of speaker, religious/spritual/non content, music/no music, etc. It also has silent meditations where you can pick beginning and ending tones. I found a 4-5 minute meditation called “I am safe” by Shakti Sutriasa that helps me in moments of anxiety. I found this app because the Headspace guy’s voice is not my favorite. I use the free version of Insight Timer and there is a lot of content available.

  17. Costco employee here. The main thing I have been having trouble with is people who are not prepared for the lines and who then walk away from their cart of perishables, which have to be destroyed if they are outside the coolers too long. I would recommend budgeting quite a bit of time for your shop, especially if you’re going immediately after a state of emergency has been declared or other distressing news.

    Much love to all, in any case — stuff is messy and sad. ❤

    1. Love from a fellow essentials worker. I am a fairly low risk thirty-odd year old who works at a home improvement store. We aren’t gonna close because electricians, plumbers, roofers etc need us to keep homes habitable.

      My two cents: Please, please, please – do not purchase non-essentials while telling essential workers that your whole family is working from home so you’re going to get some painting done! I’ve got coworkers who are over 60 (even over 70) who are working because they can’t afford to stay home. Or with lung problems. Or with compromised immune systems. I have coworkers going on unpaid leave because the crowds of DIYers at our store is causing their anxiety or OCD to escalate severely. I have no problem with customers – or my coworkers – but try to put yourself in the shoes of people who are trying to earn money, care for their kids and care for elderly people while holding a customer service job during a pandemic.

      On the flip side, literally reading that my job is essential for societal functioning according to the government – that helped me a lot. I know – literally know – that I’m doing the best thing that I can do by going to work while healthy, maintaining 6 feet spacing, and being kind.

      1. Oh man, you are right there about hearing my job called “essential”. It’s really disorienting because I’ve actually really been struggling with some internalized stuff about working retail. But like: we sell food. We sell toilet paper. People need us. I feel like the public perception of what I do has jerked from “insignificant” to “vital” in, like, two weeks.

        1. OMG yes this is such a good point. Hopefully once things calm down, folks can leverage this to gain momentum on minimum wage increase campaigns.

        2. This has been really good for me too – I work at an outdoors store in a ski resort community that’s been hit very hard all of a sudden by the resort closing operations. Everything that’s owned by the mountain is closed, and in this town, that means 90% of businesses are shuttered. There’s also no way to get outside safely in our current avalanche conditions now that the lifts aren’t running, unless you have the safety equipment we rent and sell. Our hiking meal stock is cleaned out, our maps are sold out, people are coming in to buy emergency supplies and bug-out bags and even underwear and hand sanitizer and soap, because our grocery store is tiny. People are buying tents because it’s the kind of town where you pay $1000/month to share a bunk bed in a room with 4 people. The laundromat and almost all clothing stores are closed, so we have people buying shirts and pants and jackets because they literally cannot do laundry. Letting people get outdoors and away from our scary overcrowded ghost town feels like an essential service.

        3. My working in a large grocery store (which is part of a major chain) tip for you: remember that we have gotten so far away from normal we don’t know if we will ever get back. Also–the person you are talking to, is almost definitely not the person making decisions. So while it’s fine to ask where the milk is or the yogurt, and even if we know when the next truck is due (probably not–our trucks are showing up on an unpredictable schedule, and are not neccessarily filled with the stuff we need most, and there are ordering restrictions, in an attempt to offer as many people as possible some food), be patient when we don’t know.

          Also: Move away from the entrance before wiping down your cart handle. Please. Making people stand in line to enter the store doesn’t improve anyone’s mood.

        4. Yeah, my husband works at a wastewater treatment plant. I have family members (now estranged) who made fun of him and acted really mean about it. Now, he is performing an essential service. I hope that people working all these jobs are able to get a whole lot more respect going forward.

          1. Gratitude and jedi salutes to you! Again, I’m trying to wrap my head around this, because I have a hard time believing this about the job I do — these were essential serivces *all along.* Lord.

          2. My friend (fast-food worker) was saying the same thing. She went from the person everyone looked down on, to people saying, “Thank you for being here” as they pick up their to-go orders OVERNIGHT.

          3. Thanks Jane I appreciate you saying that 🙂

            A Jedi fist bump to you, as well as Magpie, Eurekas and all the other folks out there doing some really freaking vital work! Providing food and emergency supplies and keeping the toilets flushing and the water clean are vital jobs, and deserve a ton of respect

    2. I took a pizza order last week from a Costco employee who said “I have no skin left on my hands. It’s just a layer of sanitizer.”

      1. I feel this so hard. I have eczema on my hands. It’s genetic and there’s no cure, just creams to hide the symptoms. Even washing my hands too much hurts, but hand sanitizer feels like it is searing off my skin. I’ve worked retail and I cannot imagine having both the patience for some of these customers that are being so rude and going through the pain of using hand sanitizer regularly. These employees still doing these jobs are amazing people.

  18. One FB friend had been planning to go to a con that got cancelled, and she’d planned a bunch of amazing outfits/cosplays. She’s been wearing them from home anyway and sharing photos. It’s been a bright spot in my day.

    I just saw something cross my FB feed with the headline: WHY QUARANTINE ALONE? BORROW A FRIEND! over a picture of a smiling dog. It’s from the local animal shelter, encouraging people to foster a pet while stuck at home. “If you have time to give a dog a break from shelter life, whether for a few days or a few weeks, please stop by either of our shelters – our staff has a list of pets that are ready to go!”

    The pet fostering might not work for you, everyone’s situation is different, but for those who can, it could be a match made in heaven.

    1. The big humane society in my area is staying open for surrenders, vet care, and adoptions (just serious adopters only, no coming to pet the dogs and leave). If you’ve been planning on adopting an animal, this really is a great time if you’ll be stuck at home anyway.

    2. My local humane society is advertising low adoption fees so they can empty the shelter more as they have fewer trained volunteers to help care for the animals. They have a fairly long fostering and volunteer process, so they can’t easily take on new foster homes. Check with your local shelter/humane society!

  19. I, too, am an extrovert who needs daily human interaction. I live with my partner. I am also one of those who has to go to work, at least for now, as the Powers That Be haven’t seen fit to close certain things in my state/ country yet. I get anxiety around that. I am planning, today, to set up/ link into virtual groups – like the one my choir are doing because we’re shut for the foreseeable future. If you’re in the Melbourne, Australia area, here’s a Facebook group for mutual aid (remove spaces, I’m trying to make sure it gets through and isn’t swallowed): https:// www. facebook. com/ groups /2571848853062199/

  20. I have a goal that I will be able to do one full press up by the time this is over. I have an inside exercise regime courtesy of Google, and after a fortnight of staying in my flat I am already noticeably stronger (newbie gains). I am also finding it much easier than usual to move towards a healthy weight. I’ve been effectively forced to meal plan, and it is impossible to impulse buy all the biscuits.

    I hope I fail in my goal – because that would mean I got let out sooner than I anticipate. But the more time I have, the stronger I will be at the end. I am trying to frame this as a win either way for me.

    1. That’s a pretty great idea. The fitness room at my apartment complex is closed for the duration and I should look up exercise stuff I can do in my own apartment.

      1. I highly recommend the app/book You Are Your Own Gym. (But don’t do the one-legged Romanian deadlifts without researching proper form, they’ll mess up your knees bad if you get them wrong.)

      2. I recommend, a website full of workout programs you can do at home. You can sort them by level of difficulty, look for exercises for specific focus (like back or abs), and many of them don’t require any equipment. Some are gamified, with little storylines that progress each day. It’s free, you don’t even need to make an account, but they accept donations to keep the site running.

        1. I got a used mini stepper (a very tiny stairmachine that is the min you need to get cardio) for $25. A good way to get cardio if you are in a small space. Also good if you are not in very good shape as it;s easy to just exercise for a min or two. I got it on the recommendation of a PT after surgery

  21. My coworkers and I would normally text if we’ve got questions for each other during Spring Break, but we’ve been picking up the phone and calling more instead to make sure we’re touching base and covering everything as we plan to move online.

  22. LW #1259, if your taste runs at all towards fantasy or folklore, here’s a big list of free and low cost resources that might be helpful, including free fairy tales to read and watch, visual tours of beautiful places and museums, suggestions for activities, an online book club etc. I hope some of them might be useful for you, and I’m sending Jedi hugs if wanted.

  23. I decided that this is a good time to get my act together on cleaning house, so I’ve started the Fly Lady system. It has some annoying, heteronormative quirks but it’s pretty structured. Everybody is cleaning the same thing on any given day! It’s kind of a cleaning party? No? It’s currently providing motivation through unfamiliarity, so it’s working for me.

    1. If you love the idea of FlyLady – and I do! I did her system when I was just out of college, when it was still an email mailing list, and it really helped me get a handle on keeping my house under control! – but can’t deal with the heteronomitivity (keeping your house clean in case your husband brings his boss home from work for dinner unexpectedly? really?!?!?!?), check out Unfuck Your Habitat, which is the same cleaning/declutting concepts with a totally different vibe.

      1. I love unfuck your Habitat, they were the thing that got me through most of my boxes of college crud.

        1. I’m trying unfuck your habitat right now!

          So far so good 🙂

          If nothing else, it gives me a feeling that I have done something, which helps when I’m shut in, and the short periods of cleaning are better for my joints than marathon cleaning sessions

  24. LW 1259 – I’m also an extrovert and a nerd, and I am right there with you with the goddamn introvert memes. Those bug me normally. “I, a sensitive introvert, so unlike the hoi polloi of big dumb animals, um, I mean extroverts.” Glad to know you think I’m human garbage because I like other people! And for a bunch of people who hate being around other people, y’all sure spend a lot of time on social media . . . interacting with other people.

    I would say stay off fb, etc. if that stuff is getting to you. Phone calls, chat, Skype, etc? Talking to people even if you can’t see them in person? If you game, playing through Roll20? My D&D group does that and it’s been a big help. Going for walks outside alone has also helped me, just to be out in nature, but that’s not possible everywhere. I’m thankful I don’t live alone because I would be going out of my mind. I need to see people not to be depressed.

    1. I don’t have a pony in the introvert v extrovert race,* but this comment seems unnecessarily hostile and aggressive for a post that’s -supposed- to be about people supporting each other and not being judgmental jerks about how other people live.

      *Does it REALLY have to be a competition? Come on, now, people…

    2. It’s not about disliking being around other people, although the memes certainly do mix up introversion and misanthropy. It’s about needing time alone to recharge. Society is more set up for extroverts so I can see how it would be a bit refreshing for people who usually get treated as odd or rude to be the ones modelling good social practice. But anything that pits people against each other in discrete and rigid categories is unhelpful, especially right now when we need to take a collectivist approach!

    3. Hey. So, giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming you’re genuinely confused about introverts posting stuff on social media (because I have a very low tolerance for misinformation):

      Some people find in-person social interactions draining. Generally phone calls as well. These people are called introverts. People who feel energized or charged up from in-person social interactions are called extroverts. Life is complicated, and in practice it’s probably more of a spectrum than two clearly defined poles, and extroverts can still get too much social time and introverts still can get too little.

      People who get drained from in person social interaction are not necessarily drained in the same way from messing around on social media, any more than they get drained from reading books, even though that’s technically an interaction between the person who wrote the book and the person reading it. Make sense? Some introverts spend more time on social media than they would if they were extroverted, precisely *because* they want to interact with people but in-person interactions are more tiring. Some people (possibly heavily overlapping with the introvert/extrovert distinction) have an easier time communicating very personal things in text/writing compared to speech, so that is another reason that someone who identifies as an introvert might post things on social media a lot. Finally, anecdotally, introverts are perhaps more likely to have very niche interests, and therefor have an easier time of finding “their people” on social media than in real life.

      It is not weird or incongruous for someone who self-identifies as an introvert to be making posts to social media. It is *extremely* weird to be implying that someone is possibly not actually an introvert (?) if they are making posts on social media.

      I dunno if those memes really were written that way or that the people posting them really do see extroverts as lesser (it’s possible), but given how “off” your take is on what introverts even *are* I’m wondering if your interpretation of what the memes intended to convey is maybe a bit off as well. It’s pretty danged easy for people to read ill intent in other people’s words when there’s none there. For instance, you come across as being pretty contemptuous of introverts (people who don’t like other people, in your way of thinking?) but perhaps that isn’t what you meant.

      If what you meant is that “if introverts want to complain about the hardships of being around extroverts, maybe they should read the room and only make that complaint around other introverts, not in spaces where they might reasonably expect extroverts to “overhear” them as well…” then maybe you should swap the words around a bit and take your own advice.

    4. I’m an introvert and I gotta say, I’m going to apologize to you for the sheer quantity of people getting angry at you for responding to a hostile and toxic kind of dynamic that I myself have observed in a lot of people (who may or may not even BE introverted)!

      Many, many people who constantly talk about how much BETTER it is being an introvert, how it means you’re SMART and DEEP and SENSITIVE and UNDERSTAND THE FINER THINGS IN LIFE and not like people who are EVIL for inviting people to PARTIES and CHATTING TO STRANGERS and enjoying GROUPS OF HUMANS AT ONCE. They are very real, they exist, and I have seen them try and rope me into their convoluted horseshit.

      In terms of advice, I agree with you that staying off social media that can’t be filtered for that sort of stuff is helpful. Some sites allow you to blacklist for keywords and tags, and I’m pretty much going on those where I don’t even have to see horrible things for the moment.

  25. My partner read about “neighborhood pods” in the Boston area and decided to think about our own pod. We moved to our place in November and haven’t met all our neighbors yet, and don’t have everyone’s number. He made little slips of paper introducing us and giving his number and put them in people’s doors/mailboxes. 5 houses down on both sides of the streets, about 30 people total living in these houses we think. He’s put together a little text list of people who replied that they want to join, to make requests and offer up things. Right now we’re not in a “shelter in place” situation, so it’s mostly being used for “going to Costco this afternoon, anyone need anything?” type of things. It felt like a nice, local, neighborly thing to do, not offering up too much (we didn’t want to overpromise and underdeliver in these times!).

  26. Hello LW1259! I understand your pain and it is real. You’re doing so good! Lookit you, knowing what you need and working to get it! Heck yeah! I’m very proud of you.

    Something I am doing to help keep myself grounded in this time is watching the sun rise. I am a morning person, naturally and by habit, and now I have the time I’ve been taking some tea outside to sit and watch as the sun comes up. The weather has been accommodating and it’s been the only time I’ve actually been outside in the sun for about a week now. I take some tea if I can, and I sit, watch, and centre myself.

    My situation is a bit different – I’m in Australia, and I’m actually sick, not working from home. Not with Covid-19, I think I’ve had tonsillitis, but I’m off work for the whole week. Still, I’ve found taking that time to be really grounding and helpful. I hope both LWs can find something to help themselves in the comments, and best of luck!

  27. I work for a state government agency. I telework two days a week but there are no plans to increase that or close our building to the public (access is extremely limited anyway). I’ve been told that unless someone in the building tests positive, this will not change. But no one can get tested, sooo.

    Please stay home. Please. I want to do my job. I like my job. It’s important work. Since I can’t self isolate, I need other people to do it for me.

  28. Reading LW#1259 loving to meet strangers (me too!) my immediate thought was “that sounds like chatroulette… is that still a thing?” Turns out it is. Maybe it’s full of other trapped extroverts. I haven’t tried.

  29. Extrovert here in CA, with a “shelter in place” order. Here’s what’s helping me:
    1) Exercise, outside if possible. It is amazing how much music and body movement can quell the extrovert wigglies.
    2) Ignore the stories how this could go on “endlessly.” This has a 10-day probable incubation period, so try to think in 10-day chunks, not weeks or months. This is not the new normal! It will get better!
    3) The “social distancing”requirement was really hard. We are all happier with the shelter in place order in that expectations are clearer. We actually feel way more at peace because we are not trying to be close-yet-apart simultaneously.Strange but true!
    4) Phone really helps feeling connected… for me more than Skype or texting. Talk to someone on a brisk walk and you might feel better!
    Hang in there!

    1. Seconding the recommendation to think in 10-day or two-week chunks. My family is making plans every Sunday for the following week because who knows what’s going to happen more than a week away? But at the same time, it helps us so much to have that week planned out.

    2. Yeah, the shelter in place has caused a whole lot of people here in the SF Bay area to start going for walks every day. It is great, because you can say hi to people across the street and get that little hit of socializing without worrying about it. I think it is helping a lot of us keep our spirits up.

    3. New York City here — I’m glad to hear of the positive effects of shelter in place and that it clears up any uncertainties. Thanks for sharing ❤

  30. I’m full-time teleworking, as is my entire suite of coworkers. I have found it immensely helpful to maintain a casual social interaction (similar to what we would normally have walking around the office) at least once a day. In fact, I’ve set myself a reminder to do this. I find it helps my mental health significantly.

    Also, I have found social media (some of it) to be a huge solace. People, including me, are posting much more than ever before, most of it stuff like, “Day 2 of staying at home: have made a fort out of pillows!” Then find, and comment, on other people’s posts who are doing the same. It helps with feeling connected.

    1. Our work has a group chat which is literally “Points 4 Laughs” – post funny stuff and if you make someone laugh, you get a point. We set a couple ground rules so it stays truly fun (minimal politics, SFW, no LGBT+ jokes) and that’s it.

      It’s been nice already (you can hunt for things to get specific people to laugh, or go for the multi-laugh combo, spam or sneaky – lots of strategy), but now that we are all separate, it’s great to stay connected in a non- “Now We Are Socializing” way

  31. Hearts to #1259. I don’t consider myself an extrovert, but I actually love(d) and now miss the daily routine of going in the office, seeing my co-workers, hearing them around me, etc. Working from home is SO BORING and actually much less productive for me. It’s only been one day so far but I am seriously dreading it. (Yes, I get that it is necessary and yes, I will be following restrictions.) Thank you for all the ways to make it better.

  32. WFH just started for me today, but “social distancing” in general has been going on for longer. Admittedly I’m a giant introvert, but I also live alone (with cats), and I’m a bit worried how this could be as time goes on (potentially 3 weeks here, or just this week, or potentially longer…)

    Anyway leverage your social media and group texts! I have one crew on WhatsApp, one on Tumblr for my fandom (interesting as there are people in different parts of the world, but we’re ALL dealing with covid stuff – tho we try not to dominate the convo too much with that topic), a group email with extended family (planning Easter, hoping against hope we’ll be through this by then). Plus regular Facebooking and general contact with friends. Another friend who lives alone nearby, and has been WFH since last week, called me at lunch today. My mom called last night. Frankly, I feel like I’m actually socializing more than usual rn, even if not in person.

    Also, I’ve been part of my local Buy Nothing group for awhile now, which has been more active as people spend more time at home. There’s a spreadsheet for needs and offers (things/time/actions). I’m finding this group and the sense of community, neighbours helping neighbours, to be an essential antidote against the stream of grim news stories about the worst parts of human nature. Many people out there are helping and trying to help – it’s just not as newsworthy! But if you have one in your area, you might find it worthwhile. (Oh, and “Skype calls” are one service being offered in our spreadsheet).

    It’s touching to me to see so much of the world unite in solidarity to protect our most vulnerable. Try to take comfort in the best parts of humanity during these difficult times.

  33. dear Social Butterfly #1259: Girl Guides is cancelled here (Melbourne Australia) and the Guide Leaders are scrambling to keep in touch with our young people. A lot of ZOOM meetings are being run be people who’ve never done it before. I bet lots of clubs and groups are having this issue. If you’d like to meet lots of new people and be cheered by their gratitude, maybe you could offer to host ZOOM meetings and help them with it? You could get in touch via the parent organisation’s web site.

  34. Also, there is an Australian Face Book page, Adopt A Health Care Worker, linking up local people who have practical help to offer for healthcare workers who are madly too busy to run their normal lives. The first one started in Perth I think but now there’s offshoots elsewhere. Extroverts could meet new people and be a meaningful assistance in their lives. ww w.facebook. com/group s/66673996408 8379/ (take out the spaces)

  35. Back in college almost 20 years ago sometimes I would turn on an early version of skype (no video) and pretend my long-distance boyfriend (now husband) and his roommates were just in the next room, like I couldn’t see them, but I could hear what was going on so it was almost like I was there and I’d do my homework while they did whatever they were doing. Because sometimes you have to get work done and you can’t do the full attention of an actual phone call, but it’s nice to not feel alone. Like you’re with other people and you can say hey and communicate and laugh at little things without being taken away from whatever you’re doing. As if you were with people IRL.

  36. The Renaissance Festival near me just had to close, less than halfway through it’s run. To help some of the patrons deal with the closure ( and honestly the musicians and cast as well ) they are planning to do a webcast version of their normal Pub sing, and webcast versions of several of the acts this weekend.

    I suspect this isn’t the only place doing something like this. Reach out to your local artist communities and see what events are being converted to online.

  37. Look, I NEED to know about Virtual Karaoke. The site the link went to confused the hell out of me.

    I just need to organize one (or 10) Virtual Karaoke nights like right now.

    Any other links for that?

    1. I do not have one that I have used, so your Google-guesses are as good as mine. I’m supposed to actually use something on Thursday, I’ll report back?

      1. Please do! I’m also thinking of organising one (my idea so far was setting up a discord channel with everyone taking turns to choose a song off youtube) and would love to hear about your experience 🙂

  38. Jackbox games like Drawful, Fibbage, Monster seeking monster and Trivia Murder Party are great to play over a Discord. One person screen shares the game and everyone else can play on their devices. Google hangouts and zoom would also be likely to work.

    (I am planning a game night on my very inactive discord this weekend! )

    1. Oh Discord can screen share games but it also sometimes works for video! So you can watch Netflix/hulu/hbo with a big group or play other videos.

      Kast is another resource where you can stream video from your computer to a private room of friends.

  39. Instructors who are moving your courses online and would like a hand, how can we find you and what sort of help could you use? I run an educational YouTube channel so I definitely have a skill set that could be useful to folks, but I’m having trouble finding people to be useful *to.*

    1. My best guess is threefold: ask on Reddit (there surely are specialised teaching subreddits where you can offer your skills), ask on twitter, and follow some social-network-prominent teachers and scroll through their retweets (or tell them your idea and ask them if they know of anyone who could use your help). CA’s twitter feed had quite a few interesting threads on the subject this past week.

      Teachers in my country are very active on twitter, and some teachers in the US are as well, so it looks like a good place to start. In any case, I’m sure they will appreciate your kind offer 🙂

    2. Hi, that’s me! Second the advice to try Twitter– I don’t have huge reach but I’m @MSLARKIN_IPA there & would love to know more about your channel. DMs are open. 🙂

      I’m also really enjoying all of the advice in this post/these comments and thinking about how I can appropriately encourage student communication. (Obviously they’ll do a lot of communicating amongst themselves, but I’m thinking about videoconference Office Hours, for example, or maybe School “game night”/trivia contest/etc.

      Also very interested in ideas for alternative prom/commencement ideas, as I’m acting from the assumption that we won’t be having either. :/

      1. Thank you for your work! 🙂
        About prom, maybe asking the students to organise a virtual prom would work? That way they get to participate, brainstorm cool ideas to try, and feel more involved and in control. It can also be a nice distraction for them: organising parties takes a lot of time and effort. And, whether your students are a “let’s hang out in fancy clothes and sip fancy non-alcoholic drinks” bunch or a “board-game marathon in our pajamas” bunch, it’s always a good idea to let them tell you that themselves.

  40. My most extroverted friend texted me today and asked for a FaceTime call sometime in the next few days, because she will be so unhappy if she has to be entirely by herself for her two days off. I am the most introverted introvert to ever introvert, but since I’m not leaving the house at all, and the only person I’m talking to otherwise is an 11 year old, this is ABSOLUTELY! a task I can take care of! So, call is scheduled, she’ll get out of her head, I’ll have my conversation with another adult for the week. It helped that she was very specific about what she needed.

  41. My husband is an introvert but enjoys his routines of going to classes at his gym (which is now closed), leisurely Target runs, going out to eat, and socializing with close friends. All on hold. He’s also clinically depressed and anxious. I’m encouraging him to do online yoga, up his self care, keep in touch with friends, cuddle the dog… but if anyone has suggestions for me or him, I’d appreciate it.

    1. I am depressed and anxious too and I have the same problem of all my routines falling away. On top of that, my appointments with my psychologist have been cancelled for indefinite time.

      Things I do:
      – make sure that I see the sunlight every day and that I breathe some fresh air. I prefer going for a run, but even just sitting on a balcony or in a windowsill is better than nothing. Your dog might stimulate you to take care of this, which is nice.
      – stick to a fixed bedtime and out-of-bedtime (mine are 22:00 and 8:00, but I need a lot of sleep)
      – set a goal for myself to work on; I want to journal every day now. Learning something is a nice goal too (language, music, programming, sewing, drawing)
      – send postcards to elderly family members
      – cook more extensive meals for myself
      – enlist myself (I am physically healthy) to give local help (doing groceries for people, walking dogs, etc). Netherlands: Ready2Help, HeldNodig, local Facebook groups. This channels my “I have to do something” anxiety a bit.
      – join a Discord of my friend group so that we can voice chat instead of only Whatsapp chat
      – try to not be too hard on myself. I get fewer things done, but every little thing I do get done is a win.

      Hope this helps a bit!

    2. The suggestion for him — and for you — is for him to do his own research on fun things to do. I mean this in the nicest way. He can post here and get great ideas! But for many reasons, HE is the best person to search for fun things for himself.

  42. I have an elderly aunt in Seattle – no visitors and can’t leave her room. I’m sending her postcards with one of the phone postcard apps: take a cheerful picture, write a cheerful note, click send. She gets a physical postcard, which is a level of technology she can still manage. I’m trying to send one every day, because I need the structure. There are several of these apps. Costs about $1/card.

  43. Introverted extrovert here. I host monthly cocktail parties at my house–off the table now in the Bay Area–so that all the people I like can come to me. I set up a Facebook Messenger chat for regular party attendees, and now we have a rolling virtual cocktail party going. Memes, stresses, weird cocktail concoctions–anything goes. I share the info on how to mute the chat if things get busy for a bit, do everyone knows they can tune it out without offending. It honestly has been a lifesaver. I used to hayve hate hate group texts, but I’m living for this one.

  44. FWIW, our local Pride center has started doing its support groups via Zoom. I just participated in one. It’s not as good as in person, but it did help alleviate the “only trans person in the world” feeling. It also gave me a reason to dress up (i.e., make the efforts I normally would when going out), which helped me feel a little more like I exist. (When I’m alone for too long, I tend to feel like I’m just dreaming I exist, or maybe that I’m just someone’s dream.)

    I’m still pushing for an E-mail list so we can E-socialize the rest of the month.

  45. Netflix has a chat thingy, so you and your friends can put on the same movie, or binge watch something, and snark along in real time.

  46. One thing to look at is more socially oriented volunteer opportunities. Daily wellness check phone calls for elderly people or other vulnerable people living alone, video tutoring with school kids stuck at home, grocery shopping for vulnerable people (do your normal shopping, pick up the other people’s lists, drop at the front door to minimize contact).

    Also stress cleaning, if it helps. Do a deep cleaning of your closets, wash the walls, dust and sort your books. I’m not particularly tidy, but I find the physical activity of cleaning, plus the low level mental effort of sorting stuff, to be helpful for physically tiring myself out, and keeping my mind off of other stuff.

  47. I’m lucky to be in a warm weather state, so I’ve been digging holes in my yard (which is solid clay apparently) in preparation to put in some plants, which also means plant research!
    My dad & I are FaceTiming (because he loves it) about every other day, and I’m also having actual phone calls with friends. I’ve worked from home for years, and strongly encourage the use of whatever IM-type program your org uses to chat about some non-work stuff with coworkers. It makes it more like if you were in a real office together.

  48. For CA’s list of Things:

    I made a special #coronavirus channel on a Discord server I’m on, so that people who want to talk about it can — and those who do not can mute the channel. It’s a small server and we’re kind of band-of-sisters in the way we interact already, so we’re all checking up on each other.

    I’m taking care of myself by using an alt Twitter that has no ‘rona news except Dr. Mike “Alert Not Anxious” Varshavski. To that end, I would highly recommend looking for Doctor Mike on YouTube! He’s great!

    Lastly, as someone who mostly does not leave the house anyway, the best thing I ever did for myself was make good online buddies who don’t need me to be there in person. Just to be near them virtually, and to feel toward them the same way I’d feel toward an in-person friend. This has made a giant difference in my world. I know that if something happened, good or bad, I’d be able to reach a bunch of people who get it and get me.

  49. Here’s my two cents:

    My husband and I lived in self-isolation for around 18 months after our son was born extremely prematurely. The Spawn was born in November 2016 – so if we got sick, we couldn’t see him in the NICU for the course of the illness + 24 hours after. By the time he was released from the NICU, we knew his lungs were pretty damaged. He came home on a feeding tube and oxygen. We had to take him to doctors frequently – but every doctor trip ran the risk of exposing him to something that could send him to the PICU or kill him. We didn’t take him out of the house during RSV season which is October through April. I shopped at weird times and walked miles at the store to avoid people in aisles.. I washed in and out of our house. I had to explain to nice but clueless people that the Spawn could not go to (pick a crowded place with snot-nosed children) because the risks were too high – even if “it’s tradition” or “but faaaaamily” came into play.

    The entire time was insanely stressful – but that’s not the important thing.

    The important thing is that he survived.

    Between focusing on feeding and keeping him safe from respiratory illnesses, Spawn was able to grow. As he grew, his lungs healed. Because his lungs healed, his heart grew without developing any issues from pulmonary hypertension. Because his heart and lungs grew, his body grew.

    And now – he’s a sturdy three year old boy who chirped excitedly “Mama, good job!” when I pumped gas today.

    That was a hard time for me and mine – but we are so much stronger because we’ve gone through it. My wish is that everyone finds something inside themselves that was hidden before the pandemic.

    1. This is wonderful. I’ve been wanting dispatches from the post-virus future and I feel like you just gave me one. Thank you, and I’m so glad your son is well.

    2. Tell Spawn he’s done great! One of my cousins was similarly premature, she’s pretty close to his age, (also doing fine!) and reading this made me tear up.

    3. Thank you for sharing this. I’m expecting my second child any day now and I’m absolutely terrified. This is not how I planned to bring him into the world and I’m so afraid for his future. But your story reminds me there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we will get through this safely.

  50. I’m a college student who had to go home because my school closed down and was in a high-risk area. I also have ADHD and anxiety. It’s a really hard time, especially because I’m a Senior and this was supposed to be my last semester enjoying my great college. I’m finding that leaving some time for my sadness and fear is important. There’s a lot of advice and pressure to just move on/ignore it/distract yourself. And you do have to do all of those things! But you can also give yourself some time to feel it, loss and distance and fear. My therapist recommends giving myself a daily worrytime for my anxiety. I’ve also been pushing against people trying to insist that I be happy. It’s okay to feel what you feel. Accepting my feelings has really helped me.

    Keeping in touch with people in creative ways has also helped. I got a boyfriend this last year at college, and going long distance with him indefinitely because pandemic really sucks. But I’ve been keeping him updated and talking with him every day! And I’ve been writing him little stories, and doing that has really given me something to do and have fun with. Writing/making something to send to someone is helpful and makes me feel more connected.

    I did a lot of anxiety researching earlier on, and it… well, a lot of it didn’t really help. There is something to be worried about. But in the end there was also so much unknown/conjecture/disinformation that I just had to default to the basics. Focusing on what I can DO, just like Cap said, really helped.

    In turns of the social front, I’m keeping up clubs that go on in my school! I was part of a social club and a writing workshop that have both moved to zoom. Having a stable club to be a part of (or preferably multiple)! Has always helped me with socializing and feeling good. This still applies during the days of social distancing! Don’t just have one karaoke night or movie night- make it regular. Give yourself something to look forward to.

    It might also be a good time to download some new social media apps and groups, especially lighthearted and very social ones!

    That was too many words there about what I’m up to and what I’ve been doing to get along, but I hope it helps someone else too, maybe!

  51. My group kept a tabletop RPG going for years with videoconferencing tech considerably cruder than what’s available now, so I know it’s doable.

    On a simpler note, my copy of 150 Ways to Play Solitaire notes that multiple people can play, each with their own pack, and compare scores.

  52. Hi! I work from home and I’m an introvert, but one thing that has been helping me out a lot has been going outside. The weather is getting nice here and people are being encouraged to go out for a walk or a bike ride if they can. Even getting out on a balcony or porch can really help me – there are lots of people out walking dogs, and birds, which are both nice to see.

    I also play an instrument, so I sometimes post a video of myself doing that to social media, which can be fun. Do you have something that you could show off to folks on the internet?

    I’m setting up online calls with friends and relatives.

    In general, if I’m sad or frustrated, I get up and go into another room for a little change of scene. It’s silly, but I find that it can work pretty well.

    But I don’t have that deep need for interaction with others, so this is gonna be way harder for you, LW. I hope you find some good ways to cope, and I’m sorry it’s like this.

    1. When I was too sick to go out, one of the things I did was join forums for the games I play, and help answer newbie questions. I also spent way too much time in the comments sections of webcomics 🙂

      1. I am so glad that the Questionable Content webcomic just goes on in its own universe where no corona exists! Reading it every weekday is a bright spot in my day now, more than before all of this.

  53. It’s been a long rainy period here, and we’re dealing with some amount of cabin fever, so we put on “Movies For Cats” (there’s a great “Forest Songbirds” one on Amazon Prime & YouTube), which was technically to amuse our cats… but wound up being very entertaining for the human household members, as well!

    BIRD IDENTIFICATION EXCITEMENT, plus the very peaceful feeling of being deep in the woods and getting a secret close-up window on wild birds/animals.

  54. If you know kids who are off school you can help them and their parents by checking in with them. Listening to kids sing songs, practice instruments, ohh and ahh at their artwork or the amazing indoor hopscotch thingy they’re doing… gives them a fresh audience and their parents a break. Also if you have something you can teach or tutor: you can record a video of yourself making bunny cupcakes, you can help your nephew with algebra by FaceTime or you can share your amazing French verbs song. There will be so much gratitude for your efforts! Little people will be so eager to see your face on their screens. That love might feel good.

  55. Due to medical crap — both husband & I are disabled, with medical conditions that keep us homebound. So we’re kinda used to it. What helps us:

    1. Games. Especially games that have chat channels. MMO’s like World of Warcraft & Final Fantasy XIV are good for connecting with folks, especially if you have friends/family/acquaintances that already play. It gives you both something fun to do, relieve stress, and re-connect, while taking a virtual vacation to a new world — both the games I mentioned have “fishing” as a job, and being able to crank up the nature sounds of water & wind while doing something soothing & repetitive & solitary also helps TONS (as does beating the crap out of fantasy monsters with lots of flashy magic & moves, but that’s how I roll). Hit your friends up for a referral code, too, which usually gets you & them cool extras in the game.

    2. Need something new to read? Check out the Wayback Machine — The Internet Archive is no longer just for old websites. They have linked with libraries around the world, and now have a huge amount of books, magazines, audio files, and videos for free watching & reading. You get to check out five books at a time for two weeks; magazines & vids can be read/watched right then.

    3. Most important: put yourself on a news diet. Limit yourself to ten-fifteen minutes in the morning to get updated medical/quarantine info, and that’s IT. If you can manage it: step outside. Walk, even if it’s just around your yard. Sit on your front stoop. Remind yourself the world exists. Remind yourself that life goes on, and that it’s never as bad as the media wants you to think.

    1. I don’t know if you’ve ever played City of Heroes when it was first out, but it’s out again and 100% free (and for those familiar with it, back to it’s glory and not the messed up disaster it was before closing). For those not as familiar, it’s an amazingly great super heroes video game. I actually know people who haven’t even actually played, they just sat making characters because the character creation is very detailed and fun.

  56. Social Butterfly – I feel you. My birthday is the one time of year I make an effort to see every single one of my friends in a short time span, but this year my birthday is going to be spent social distancing 😦 so I’m making alternative plans! Since I’m extra sad about it, I’m making a separate plan with each friend or small friend group to extra cheer me up! These will include skype movie dates, multiplayer Stardew Valley, long distance Animal Crossing dates, skype wine nights, and more. It’s definitely a fair bit of effort on my part, but to me it’s worth it to me to still get to see everyone. I hope you can make equivalent plans that help you fill the void Social Butterfly. Take care!

  57. For everyone who had their conventions cancelled, and everyone who wishes they could be at a con, over on Facebook is Concellation 2020, the con that was cancelled before it was even scheduled!
    It’s a very active bunch of nerds with tons of busy post threads, with people sparking discussion, nerd shares, and chaotically pretending to run events. I’ve spent a lot of time there today.

    1. Oh my gosh, thank you for sharing this. It’s going to make the day of a lot of my friends.

  58. I help run a fairly large Meetup group in NYC and myself and the other organizers are looking for ways to keep the meetup going virtually. Ideas we’ve come up with so far include
    – Group movies. We’re trying a bunch of websites (Netflix party, Kosmi, Watch2Gether etc) to figure out which one works the best.
    – Show and Tell. Our meetup is around a particular fandom, so we’re asking everyone to show up on a video call with an item they’re willing to talk about with a group and share why it’s important.
    -Group Cooking. Pick a recipe and have the entire group work on it in their own kitchens.
    – Book Clubs. Have a certain number of chapters and weekly check ins.

    We’re only now starting a lot of this so I’m not sure how its going to work out, but we’re trying to let our members know that we’re here for them!

  59. I’ve actually got two virtual game nights scheduled right now, using a mix of discord and steam. Audio chat on discord is a pretty decent substitute for conversation with faces, imo. As far as the games, Jackbox party games use a browser window to interact, so one player can stream the program ovelr discord and everyone can play using their own phones/computers. Also, a decent number of board game ports on Steam work well wit remote play, for which only one player has to own the game.

  60. I have one work suggestion and one social suggestion.

    Work — set up a 30 minute “virtual coffee break” videoconference, have it recur every day/few days, and ask folks to stop by if they’d like to have a coffee break together. It’s a good way to replace a bit of that random water-cooler type chat that happens when people are in proximity in the office, and be able to see people face-to-face and talk out loud.

    Social — I saw some suggestions for Discord, but my circle isn’t very game-y and a new Thing isn’t for us. Tonight a group of us spent two hours playing games over Zoom, though, and it was very fun! One person has a Switch account and they have a set of games from Jackbox. They screenshare the main game screen and then everyone else plays simultaneously on their smartphones. It’s very intuitive for people who aren’t gamers and super fun. I recommend trying something like that. Good luck!

  61. #1258: Hi fellow anxious extrovert! I’m right here alongside you with this whole social distancing thing. Here’s how I’m trying to handle the situation:

    – Keep busy. I have learned to make bread, and will continue iterating it to figure out how to improve on the basics. I am working on learning to sew a corset. I am binging TV in the background, and diving headfirst into a new fandom to help keep me occupied. I am, of course, doing what work I can do from home, which for me is luckily most of it. I am considering taking up creative writing again (I say ‘again’ like the last time I did this wasn’t middle school). I am considering buying a new video game in spite of my tight budget, if I can find one that will last for enough hours to justify it. I’m taking up yoga. Note that I don’t expect to be GOOD at all these new things, or to necessarily keep doing them once social distancing ends! The point is keeping me occupied, not gaining a new lifelong hobby. My brain is an absolute asshole when given free time; I’m doing the best I can to give it basically none.

    – Intentionally create socializing opportunities. I am setting up calls with virtual meetings with colleagues, friends, family, literally anyone who I think will tolerate it. Most of it (even with colleagues) isn’t really about work, or about anything in particular really; it’s about checking in on each other, having someone to talk to for a bit, and reminding ourselves that we’re not alone in this. People have mostly appreciated me actually reaching out; I think even a lot of introverts and borderline folks are feeling the isolation, and we extroverts are the best at saying “Hi please talk to me!” by virtue of sheer practice, so let’s use it for good! Setting up events and virtual gatherings is also good, but don’t underestimate the power of just texting a bunch of people each day and going “Hey, virtual coffee break?” and setting up one-on-one conversation time.

    – Avoid the news. Even more importantly, to the maximum extent possible, avoid the rumor networks circulating virus gossip. So much of it (even the things on the actual news) is unreliable, given how little we know and how rapidly things are changing. It’s just an anxiety pit. Skip everything you can. Even if you’re not trying to see it, probably the highlights will trickle in via the socializing opportunities you’re creating, so don’t worry about missing anything important.

    – Get out of the house. Yes, I know, social distancing, quarantine, staying home is the whole point…I’m not talking about diving straight into a crowd.
    I’m talking about going for a walk around your neighborhood where you keep your hands firmly in your pockets and don’t get within 10 feet of anyone, or jumping in your own personal car if you have one and going for a drive for the heck of it, or taking your necessary errand of choice (grocery store? pharmacy?) and giving yourself permission to walk there rather than take public transit (yeah more time in public, but safer and less densely packed public, so probably a fair trade-off…and it’s a necessary errand anyways, right?), or spending an hour on your balcony waving to your neighbors instead of sitting in your living room, etc. Whatever reasonably safe outside-ness you can fit into your life. It’ll help.

  62. One thing you are personally doing to help or stay connected with other people during necessary social-distancing or outright quarantine.

    I basically live in Slack and Discord right now. All the spaces I’m in have either banned covid talk or created specific spaces for it. I have all those specific spaces muted. Today I trialed a Zoom call with friends and that went great.

    One thing you are personally doing to take care of yourself during necessary social-distancing or outright quarantine.

    Talking about my feelings. I had a good cry yesterday and I feel better today than I have in weeks—and that meant I could support my partners when they were deep in their sadness and anxiety today, so they’ll feel better tomorrow. I’m also doing video calls with my therapist twice a week.

    If you’re somebody who must go to work, what’s one thing you wish the inside kids knew that could help you be/feel safer and do your job well?

    This isn’t me but I just want to say thank you to everyone who is in this category—you’re amazing. Thanks for keeping the rest of us going. Please take care of yourselves as much as you can.

    One or two concrete suggestions specifically from people with experience having to do most or all of their social life remotely.

    I’ve been in long-distance romantic and queerplatonic relationships for 25 years, and the most important things I’ve learned about virtual socializing are:

    1) Schedule it, ideally as a regular repeating thing with each person or group you want to talk with. If you’re likely to cancel often because you have a small child or a chronic illness or some other frequent unexpected interruption, schedule more dates than you actually want or need and build in the expectation that cancellations will happen and it’s not a big deal. My person K and I have a weekly date scheduled with the understanding that we might end up talking every other week; it was originally scheduled for every other week but then we only talked once a month.

    2) Be yourself. If you’re sad that day, be sad. If you’re silly, be silly. Having a regular date with someone you already care about means they’re going to see you all the ways you are, and that’s fine. Don’t go in with any expectation other than getting to spend time together.

    If you’re the sort of person who needs an activity, set aside part of the time for a thing you can do together, whether it’s video chat knitting or reading each other chapters of a favorite book or practicing a new language or running an RPG. That kind of structure can be really helpful if you feel awkward talking on the phone or on video. But do leave time for general conversation as well.

    3) Pay attention to how things go and then make adjustments as needed. “I noticed we’re all talking a lot about our anxiety—can we make five minutes for that at the start of the call and then move on?” “I think I need a better headset. The audio is all tinny and I can’t stand it. I’ll order one, and let’s do text chat in the meantime.”

    4) Be flexible and understanding. Cancellations happen. Calls get cut short. Someone’s overstimulated and can’t handle the extra input. It’s okay! There’s always next time.

  63. Hey! I’m a delivery driver working for a pizza shop that is still open for delivery and carryout in an area that is closed for any form of dine in service. I live in Minneapolis, MN, USA.

    One thing I would like for you all to know is that it makes my life easier if you don’t ask if “we have been effected.” Yes, we have. My place tonight didn’t get as much business as all our customers thought we did. We are all on a razor edge and if I wasn’t scared of not making my bills I wouldn’t be at work. I think what I am doing is not as responsible as I would like to be, and I think that none of us know how to fix that in the system we have in place. We are scared, most of my coworkers are not citizens, I am doing my best to help everyone triage their unemployment benefits and also stay six feet apart from the people I wanna hug the most. I kept myself far away from the kitchen today to keep my coworkers and guests safe just in case. My hands are cracking from all the sanitizer. I am in it bad.

    But all I want to do when I talk to my guests is be hospitable. It is my passion and my career and I wanna make you feel normal for the ten seconds we are allowed to see each other. Let me give you a compliment on your necklace! Let me ask who cuts your hair because it is rockin! Let me tell you how cut your house is! But please don’t ask how I will pay my bills or if my restaurant is gonna close. I can’t answer that and it hurts too much.

    1. Wisconsin just issued the general distancing and sit-down service ban yesterday, but last week, I was recommending to my service staff friendquaintances at my two regular restaurants that they set up donation drives for staff who had hours cut or got ill and advertise them on the reataurant websites, Facebook pages, and/or prerecorded phone messages, because our public safety net here in USA is woefully insufficient (and may not be available to undocumented workers at all). I know people often feel weird about “begging,” but lots of our local restaurants have strong regular customer bases that include people who both appreciate the service and can afford to do what is effectively extra tipping during a crisis. Lots of people legitimately want to help and just need an easy prompt or opportunity, and lots of people are going to be checking for info on delivery or take-out service, so they’re more likely to find the donation info if it’s posted with the temporary service change info. That also gives you the opportunity to turn those questions into an opportunity for pro-social action, which might help you re-frame them for yourself (possible offers of assistance rather than one more demand to do emotional labor to assuage other people’s worries) and be less bothered: “Yes, lots of our employees are struggling; if you want to donate to our emergency fund for suspended and quarantined employees, go here.”

      1. There is a donation set up in Minneapolis called “Tip Your Server” and it is basically just direct linking to a Google doc with everyone’s venmo, but it’s hard because we all lost our jobs (or most of our jobs) at the same time, so none of us have the extra cash.

        You also wouldn’t believe the number of people who aren’t tipping right now. Like higher than usual. It feels like garbage.

  64. Extrovert here. I work in libraries, here in Scotland, and we may well be closing very shortly. I have to admit that the idea of not getting my daily allowance of meeting the public is going to be really difficult, although I appreciate it’s for a good reason.

    That said, I’m also an artist. My partner is an artist in his spare time as well, so it might work out quite well for the two of us. This isn’t a particular reply to the letter writer, but if you are creative then why not think about giving some online lessons? It’s not ideal, since you’re not actually out there meeting and greeting people. But it may be a way of getting out into the world. Here’s a link to where you can set up a class:

    And of course there are other things you can do if you are a creative. If you enjoy writing, for example, why not get together with some of your friends and have an ideas exchange? Brew yourself some damned fine coffee, blast into a brand-new notebook, switch on your Skype and get to work! You may find that you come up with some of your best ideas.

    Or maybe use this time constructively to think of a new business idea, one that makes use of your extroverted skills. And as long as you’re healthy, don’t forget to think of other people who might need our help in the community. Is there a local website or a Facebook group you could join where you can offer to help out neighbours, elderly people, stay at home others etc? There are lots of ways that we can be of service.

    As an extrovert, I think this will be quite hard for us. But I also think as a people person there is the opportunity to be a real people person here. By looking after each other. X

    1. The person who used to be the local children’s librarian, and did weekly story times, has started doing them in Zoom, just because she’s awesome. None of us are really in the age bracket any more, but it’s a lift to the heart to be there.

  65. I spent last night setting up a Minecraft server to hang out with a friend on. We had an awesome time doing minecraft mod community challenge maps years ago and I didn’t really ever think I’d have the free time to get back to that – but, hey, seems like a good moment to have a chill videogame world to explore and invent things in.

    1. This is a great idea. My daughter stays in touch with online friends this way. Right now she is very concerned for her friends in Europe, especially the one in Italy. Their online friend group checks in with each other on Minecraft every day now.

  66. I am in official quarantine because I travelled within Europe last week. Working from home is OK, there is a lot of time without meetings, so I have time for some serious meetings.

    When my official working hours are over, I close my work laptop and put it AWAY. I think it is essential for me to maintain some boundaries.

    As a crafter, I do self-care by aggressively attacking the stash og yarn that somehow has accumulated. (There are stash-buster recommendations on Ravelry.) As a martial arts person, I like this minumum in-place workout: .

  67. Dear #1259/Social Butterfly, I’m the pastor of a rural parish. My congregation is pretty much all in that 70+ high risk age group and we have had to cancel services and some of the ways we do outreach ministries. Can I just say I LOVE MY EXTROVERTS!! SO MUCH!!! (I am not an extrovert myself, but I play one in my job.)

    This week we have been scrambling to figure out what we can do to keep the community spiritually engaged and emotionally healthy, when a lot of folks are not tech-savvy. (Online stuff might reach 1/3 of my folks.) I reached out to the extroverts and they swiftly organized a phone buddy system of circles of 4-5 people checking in on each other on a regular basis, with at least one extrovert in each group (they don’t call them extroverts, they call them People Who Like to Talk on the Phone).

    A minority of people in that high-risk group of elders are tech savvy, and they will probably be fine when I set up a Zoom Bible study. But a lot of older folks rely on the phone and TV for company, and a LOT of them are busy, independent people who now find their lives very disrupted; who miss their grandkids; who miss meeting up with friends at the gym or for lunch.

    If you know some elders, call them and see how they’re doing. Maybe set up regular times for conversation. All the best to everyone here. Peace

  68. I have joined a discord server for playing one-shot rpgs online! So far I’ve played a game where we were space smugglers who turned into communist space pirates, and this evening I’m playing a game based on the setting of the video game the Sunless Sea. Spending 5 hours making up cool nonsense with strangers is definitely helping me feel like I’m getting enough socialising in.

  69. I find hanging out in the friends of Captain awkward forum helps me when I need to talk to random strangers. My partner, who is also a real extrovert, has been hanging out on It’s a mental health support community. She went to get support, but is finding it really helpful for her own struggles to help other folks it on there.

  70. My place of worship is organizing its social action committee to make calls to homebound elders, check to see if they’re healthy, or if they need groceries or supplies, and chat with them to make them feel less lonely. Another member of the committee is organizing getting grocery deliveries according to the elders’ requests. Find a group doing this and make calls to sweet old people who need human contact as much as you do. I’ll be calling my four assigned elders, only one of whom I actually know, later today.

  71. Just to say, thanks – as an introvert I wouldn’t have worked that out for myself. I’ve just spent a very happy, entirely confused hour playing Stardew Valley remotely with my extrovert, self-isolating daughter. (I’m middle aged: lots of – I can’t get into my house! as she bustles about expertly watering things.)

  72. I’ve scheduled a daily morning walk, which I discovered takes place during peak dog-walking time in my neighborhood. LW, if you’re in a walkable area, perhaps you can take a stroll when most people are lettin’ the dogs out and get some interaction then?

  73. Seconding all of the recommendations to set a schedule and get outside when possible. I have set myself a goal of “interact with one human being outside your house every day” – facetiming family and friends just to talk has helped.

    My immediate friend group is also using an app called Marco Polo, which is…basically walkie-talkies, but for video? You can record yourself and everyone else can see it and respond. It’s been an absolute LIFESAVER – yesterday we did tours of everybody’s work-from-home spaces and then basically a virtual cocktail hour where we heckled each other mercilessly. It helped things feel less awful for a while.

  74. I recommend – lots of board games, both recent and traditionnal, also some card games. You can play with strangers from around the world, or with your friends, and they have an audio chat option (otherwise, text chat). It’s free, but you can have a small montly subscibtion to have more options.

    Also origami ! There are plenty of free diagrams on the internet (for exemple and also video tutorials (

  75. For folks who have a bike trainer, you might try Zwift, which is an interactive platform that lets you ride with other folks in a virtual world. It may sound silly, but exchanging a thumbs-up with Amy from Australia or Gavin from Ireland while you’re slogging up a hill does feel like a moment of human connection.

  76. Introverted parent of extroverted child seeking advice please. Tiny disclaimer that this isn’t a rant about extroverts in general or my Jr Mint extrovert in particular. I just know from past experience (snow days, school breaks) that if I can’t get my kiddo out among other humans regularly, it gets bad for both of us. She craves more interaction than I can provide, even if I had the stamina to give my undivided attention all day long (which I don’t).
    I’m not looking for links to educational materials, streaming storytime or concerts, my FB feed is already overwhelmingly full of those. It’s more in the realm of how to structure our time so there’s a balance between our opposing needs.

    1. If I were you (well, I am a parent), I’d make it official and draw up a visual timetable. She must be used to those from school, and it’s not unreasonable to import it if she’s out of school for the foreseeable; you can use the same rhythm of morning/lunch/afternoon/evening she’ll be used to from school. Include her when you draw it up so that she feels it’s a negotiation where she gets a say, not a diktat, and block off time for everyone’s needs. She needs social time, you need quiet time, presumably both of you have work and chores to do, so map it all out. Maybe have a system of rewards for sticking to it without (excessive) fussing?

      I’m in a slightly different situation, as my son is autistic and the need is to schedule some time where he plays in the garden or I will DIE OF ECHOLALIA, but I think creating new routines is advice that probably works for NT families as well.

    2. can you organise family/friends to do video/phone calls with her? i have friends in the same situation and they’re setting up a trello board with a schedule of virtual hangouts for their kid

      1. My sister got the family set up on Marco Polo recently; its been getting quite a lot of traffic in the past few days.

    3. How old is Jr. Mint?

      One thing my dad used to do was ask me to tell him a story. He would say that he was going to be very quiet and just let me talk and it was his turn to listen, and I would have a length of uninterrupted time to tell him a story. His particular flavor of introversion meant that he didn’t have to listen to me with his whole brain and could relax a little while I just chatted at him.

      1. Kiddo is 8. If she senses I am listening with less than my whole brain she is motivated to Try Harder.

    4. It probably won’t help with your child wanting more attention, but it may help you find a tiny grasp of time to reset your brain. My kiddo just turned 5 last month and for the last year we started doing quiet time. When she was 4 we started doing 1 hour a day, usually just after lunch and she can have her tablet, books, things to draw with and whatever stuffed animals. She sits in her bedroom and does whatever she wants for an hour as long as it isn’t loud (is allowed to come out to use the bathroom of course, but then goes back after). We set up a digital clock so she can see how much time she has left and I set an alarm in case she wants to mess with her clock (learned that one when she tried to have a 10 minute quiet time one day haha). It helps her have some designated time to wind down from having constant interaction and it gives my husband and I time to reset from the constant noise of a small child. She didn’t like it at first but now she wants to have it every day and most days asks if it’s close to quiet time yet.

  77. Are Chat Roulette and Omegle still around? Or is there a new equivalent? Those strike me as good sites to visit if you find it uplifting to chit-chat with strangers.

    1. Omegle is still around and I have had interesting conversations there within the last week! but unless you specify interests it tends to be full of bots and people showing off their shiny new genitalia.

  78. I pulled together a list of links of educational and semi educational YouTube channels that Im ok letting my kid watch for hours. (YouTube was how I dealt with hair issues when she was younger.) Might be useful for those who need to get some work done but are locked in with a kid/extrovert.

  79. The Cincinnati Zoo is going live on Facebook at 3pm EST each day for a virtual safari ( I really enjoyed watching the first one this past Monday which was about their baby hippo, Fiona who is an actual celebrity in Ohio. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s ( Sea Otter Cam is also excellent and they are doing a morning meditation called MeditOcean. I’m pretty sure there are other zoos/aquariums doing something similar so take a look at your local one.

    For those looking for cooking suggestions, there’s a new podcast with Samin Nosrat (writer of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat) & Hrishikesh Hirway called Home Cooking where you can send in questions on what to cook with what you have. I really like both Samin and Hrishi and can only imagine how good this will be!

  80. Couple of things I’m doing right now:

    1) Intentionally thinking about how to be particularly kind to those I live with (e.g. making a favourite meal for my partner, giving my very social cat all the cuddles she wants). This focuses my social needs in a positive direction, and also helps make being stuck inside together easier to cope with.

    2) There are a few friends/family who are ‘subscribed’ to me: every morning I find something on the internet that I think will make them smile, and send it around. Low pressure for them, but gives an opening for conversation if they need to talk.

  81. Fellow anxious extrovert here. I remind myself constantly that I’m privileged to be healthy, alive, and able to stay at home except for trips to the grocery store and doctor’s appointments.

  82. One thing I’m doing is organizing a daily “Open Zoom hour” for my church. Every day from 7 to 8 pm, we have a Zoom call that any church member can just drop in on to see some friendly faces and chat. A group of volunteers agreed to take a day a week that they would “host” the open Zoom hour to make sure someone is always there. One older extrovert volunteered to host 3 days a week!

  83. Hi! Me too, LW, me too. Now that my husband is also home it’s not as bad, but I get a little panicky even thinking about what’s to come. I’m pregnant too, so we’re on total self-isolation. Oof.

    That said, here are my two things:

    – Marco Polo. I’ve been Marco-ing with my mother every day for a year or more. It’s basically video voicemail. It worked really well for us because we have different schedules – talking in real time didn’t work. Now I have a group called Crossword Club (me, mom, dad, uncle, aunt) where we talk about the daily NYT puzzle (nerds!) + my lovely girlfriends and I have one too. It’s amazing.

    – Casper ter Kuile is an amazing human who studies and practices what community is all about these days. (You may know him as the co-founder and co-host of the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.) He has recently started hosting sing-alongs on Sundays. He has a newsletter and a great Instagram.

    Best of luck, fellow extro. We can do this.

  84. One thing I’m doing to help myself manage my anxiety is channeling it into similar but unrelated actions to what I want to do but shouldn’t – i.e., if I want to be constantly reading news about the pandemic, I pull up a nonfiction book or podcast on an unrelated topic. I’m still “seeking information”, so it’s still soothing to me in some measure. If I want to be planning or prepping for the pandemic when I’ve already done everything I can, I’m optimizing my laundry workflow instead. Still organizing, so again, it helps. I’m doing the action my anxiety is demanding without letting it focus on the pandemic itself.

    I don’t know if this is a me thing or a thing that can be helpful to others, but it’s a new (or newly conscious) coping mechanism that I’m excited to have discovered.

  85. In terms of helping, beyond immediate friends and family – one thing our household is doing is to keep paying our regular service providers, even though we can’t have them come to the house right now. Specifically, we have a wonderful cleaning service with folks who come every two weeks to do the heavy-duty stuff, but reluctantly decided we shouldn’t have them come in for the time being (our household has some high-risk folks due to age and other illnesses). However, we made arrangements to pay them their regular fee, plus tips, plus a bit extra, for every cleaning we will need to miss. I know not everyone is in a financial position to do this, but if you are, please do consider continuing to pay your providers, especially if they are individuals or small businesses and not large chains with a safety net.

  86. If you’re going to buy something at a store, pay in credit/debit cards. Right now cashiers and clerks can use not touching bills and coins, which are known infectious disease vector.

    Signed, Post Office Clerk

  87. I am an introvert. My extroverted sibling who just got back from job-related travel is self-isolating with me and Spouse, rather than our parents, who are in a high-risk group.

    It has been less than 48 hours.

    I am grinding my teeth.

    My plan is to do my best to hang out with Sibling when I’m not working (fortunately I can work from home) and be sociable, because I think otherwise we’re all gonna get really cranky really soon. So that means being in public areas of the house and chatting for as long as I can stand it at the end of my work day, and also making time for myself to either be completely alone or quietly catch up with my own friends. (Spouse and I had a video chat with a friend of ours yesterday. Sibling totally monopolized it by standing in the same room and monologuing! The stories were entertaining at least, but it definitely illustrates that I am gonna have to be more deliberate about who I’m spending time with and how.)

    I will probably invite Sibling to go for a walk with me most afternoons.

    I think I might reach out to some of my friends to see if we can set up some kind of virtual hang-out so that I can channel Sibling’s social energy a bit.

    The point, I guess, is that introverts and extroverts alike are gonna have to be a lot more intentional about their socializing for the next while.

    1. Good lord. Sending you all the quiet in the world!… Keep telling yourself ‘I am a good person, I am helping my family, I am being kind to my sibling’ and also keep telling yourself ‘This too shall pass’. You WILL get your life back!!

  88. Awww, thanks for the cat picture.I also had a pair that color. They were sweet boys (sniffle).

  89. I’m working from home for the duration. My team just scheduled a WebEx meeting for every lunch hour so people can turn their cameras on and chat while they eat.

    1. I look forward to the influx of Ask A Manager videoconferencing table manners gripes from around the country! 🙂 🙂 🙂 (This is a very good idea, I’m just anticipating what happens when the same coworkers who microwave fish or steal lunches are eating on camera).

  90. Thanks for the reminder about reaching out to extroverts…I’m a homebody/introvert/semi-loner, and my bf is the polar opposite. I just messaged her to say that someone reminded me it’s extra hard on extroverts right now. \

    Two days in to working from home and I’m already feeling that pull to go ‘do things’. I know this is psychological and just because I know I shouldn’t. Argh!!

  91. I haven’t read the other 98 replies, so I know it’s probably been covered: if you’re not allergic to animals, your local animal shelter/animal rescue could use foster homes for pets.

    If you are able to do it, can you foster a child? Particularly a teen?

  92. In the past week I’ve already had a virtual brunch meetup over Skype & a virtual happy hour over Zoom, & there was an invite that I couldn’t make to a virtual craft/sew over Zoom (these are all with different groups of ppl). Today, my work team is having a virtual happy hour over Microsoft Teams, plus all my company has really amped up the non-work social chatter & photo sharing on Slack.

    While I’m an introvert, my big hobby is going to conventions & similar events, which are all getting canceled, so these online meetups with friends who I’d usually see at those events is really nice. We’ve all committed to putting this on our calendars for a half hour / hour a week. Even the work socializing is enjoyable, & I usually don’t socialize w/coworkers a ton. It improves everyone’s mood.

  93. For people who want something that makes them feel productive and takes up just enough brain space to push out the anxiety, without becoming anxiety inducing itself, I have to push – it’s a site that collate citizens science projects. You can go through images from camera traps to identify animals (turns out camouflage works nearly as well on AI as it does on predators!), look for patterns in wave forms, transcribe documents and records, categorise audio, and so on. You will get really obsessed about which species that zebra butt belongs to!

  94. The scientist thing is called Skype a Scientist, and they have live Skype sessions that anyone can join, in addition to scheduling sessions specifically for your household. It’s under Events on their website.

    I’ve been writing letters to stay in touch with people – some to regular pen pals, but also some to people I usually touch base with in other ways, or to people who I think might just appreciate a paper letter. They’re not works of literature, but it’s a way to share and feel like I’m talking to people, particularly in different time zones, and I figure if all goes well we’ll have those as reminders of that time when we all had to be a little more creative with social contacts.

    1. Do you know if Skype a Scientist are okay with grad students who do do actual research as well, or do you have to be A REAL SCIENTIST WITH A SCIENCE JOB to qualify?

      1. As a PhD mathematician, I would like to jump in here and say: graduate students are 100% REAL SCIENTISTS WITH SCIENCE JOBS.

  95. Hi! I’m an introvert who’s worked exclusively from home for 5+ years. The vast majority of my outside-work social also comes from online sources. There are SO many ways to stay in touch with other people online, and I highly recommend that someone who’s used to a lot of social contact try MANY of them.

    There’s a ton of quirky multi-player steam games up for sale right now: I highly recommend Monster Prom, which is a multi-player dating sim/visual novel. Jackbox is also great. This might be a great time to take up an MMO and join a guild if you’re into that—FFXIV has a ton, as does SWTOR. Guild Wars 2 is pretty simple to learn, and has massive world bosses several times a day that foster a spark of community, even if it doesn’t necessarily last. Fallen London is a browser-based text RPG that has a huge discord and a focus on social actions. Stardew Valley has a great discord and a very chill community. If there’s a video game that you’re really into, I can almost guarantee you that there’s a discord specifically for that game. If there isn’t, make one. Discord also lets you screen share, so you can theoretically share whatever you’re doing with friends.Video games do not have to be a solitary pursuit.

    Even if you’re not into games, there are almost certainly discords for your favorite hobbies. I’m on one for makeup, one for collecting a specific item, one for a book series I’m really into, one for writing in my community. Good places to check are the subreddits for various hobbies, hobby forums if those are around, patreons if there’s an artist you’re really into, etc. Friend discords are great, but might not be enough if you’re used to friends + work + going to bars and talking to strangers.

    My more extroverted partner is going absolutely mad with this. It’s rough, and I’ve got a TON of sympathy for people who’re doing this for the first time. But tech lets us reach out to other people in unprecedented ways, and we should absolutely be making as much use of that as we can!

  96. My husband and I are very friendly people who love to go out and talk to everyone, making friends everywhere we go. We’re in the SF Bay Area in San Mateo County, and we’re currently on a shelter in place order. Part of the order is encouraging people to go outside for a walk, while keeping a 6 ft. social distance (in case you cough or sneeze). We’re finding that when we go for a walk in the park, EVERYBODY is starved for social interaction (and it’s been 1 day!) and we’re having the best time chatting with people up from 6 feet away and hearing about their shelter in place experience. We’re also planning on going for some walks with friends 6 feet apart.

    We’re Facetiming family and making phone calls, appreciating hearing about all the kind things neighbor’s are doing for each other.

  97. I’m on day 2 of working from home, and am the worst sort of ‘vert: an extrovert with a fear of people.

    I’m considering starting up a twitter based liveread to fill some time, and I’ve started to spontaneously manifest crocheted stuffed animals.

    Currently the only social engagement I have not postponed or canceled that will happen in the coming three weeks is when my best friend and I will need to witness each other’s mail in ballots, and probably do some anime and food then because we already left the safety of our respective burrows, damn it.

    I brought my office plants home with me for the increase in available nature, will probably post pics somewhere at some point.

  98. A friend and I just made plans to walk a local trail at a safe distance apart, after which we’ll eat a picnic lunch in our parked cars and chat on the phone.

  99. I’m an introvert who works at the grocery store, so lack of social contact isn’t my issue. So the only thing I can offer extroverts specifically is, if you’re home because you’re un- or under-employed, and you’re okay with the risks, your local grocery store is probably hiring! Not sure what’s happening with grocery shopping in shelter-in-place areas, but where I am we can’t keep up with the demand. Get social contact while making money and keeping people supplied with food and other stuff they need. Grocery delivery services are also having higher demand if you want to freelance. You could also volunteer to shop for someone who can’t go out.

  100. Staying connected: I am making reusable shopping bags to bring to community events, like clothing swaps, for whenever community events resume.

    Self care: I am affording books. I am currently working my way through the Maise Dobbs books by Jacqueline Winspear. I am also reading old comfort reads.

    Helpful links: Project Gutenberg makes available, for free, books in the public domain. That includes the Oz books, the Anne of Green Gables books, lots of fairy tales.
    Baen (the publisher) Free Library, free sci-fi and fantasy books by some really great authors

    1. Quick plug for an app called Libby- you can check out free ebooks and audiobooks from your library.

      1. Yes, Libby is great. Hoopla is another, similar app – highly recommend both if your public library uses them.

      2. I don’t live in a library district, so I pay $60/year to belong to the Houston Public Library and borrow e-materials; there is no residency requirement to purchase and I was able to do it all online. It has been money well spent.

  101. I still am going to work (I take pizza delivery orders) and we are set up with space between the workers, wipes, etc., I am thrilled to deliver you a slice of normalcy.


    If you can, pay with CREDIT CARDS on the phone with me. Even if you’re picking up. We need to minimize all contact as much as possible.

    We are thrilled to do no contact delivery where we leave the food in the spot designated by you and wait by the car/6 feet away for you to pick it up. So when you order and then get a call from a number you don’t recognize, please answer–it’s your delivery person, and they can’t leave until you come out and get your order.

    It may take longer for deliveries in general because of the above, so that’s why we’re quoting X minutes.

    Very happy to go over our sanitizing procedures with you.

    Tips are wonderful and always, always optional. We know money is tight for many and getting tighter. Don’t let fear of not being able to tip stop you from ordering.

    All this said, every restaurant/delivery place is different and doing all it can. Usually their web site will outline how they’re doing things.

  102. As a helper clerk (bag boy plus) at the local grocery store, I will say that it’d be lovely if you can do your Big Restocking Runs early or late in the day. The more intense peak hours are, the less chance I have to leave the front end and take care of the stuff like sanitizing, and I imagine that’s going to be similar for whoever the responsibility gets handed to where you’re at.

  103. For someone who is missing the company of others at mealtime, I found a few years back when I was living alone in a new city, that prepping my meal and then sitting down to eat it with an episode of Dinner for Five (with Jon Favreau) was a way to feel like I wasn’t quite so isolated.

    Hearing Peter Falk or whoever telling stories over pasta, stopping for a sip of wine, while I was eating whatever I’d scrounged from the fridge or gotten for take-out, made me feel not-so-alone, and it kept me in the conversational rhythm so I was able to get back into it easily when there were actually real people around.

    If that’s no longer available on Netflix or whatever, other ‘social’ shows where people interact not-to-agressively (eg, great british baking show, Alan Alda on Scientific American, Finding Your Roots) can work as well

  104. We are about to try watching some tv ‘together’. We all watch the same show, and chat via facetime or skype or whatever works.

    My local sports basement stores are going to hold virtual group yoga, etc.

    I just found this site that has some interesting events listed.

  105. I’m a VERY extroverted artist. I am struggling a lot here. Today I felt better than I have in days by organizing a collection drive for n95 masks.
    Artists, Woodworkers, Craftsworkers, Handyfolk, and Burners (people in the Burning Man communities) all use n95 masks at work and in their hobbies. In a few hours I’ve lined up collections around my city where I can drive to folks houses or studios; they can come out and drop any n95 masks they have in through the back window of my car into a paper bag. The drive-through testing clinic in my city has confirmed that they want new masks from open packages. It’s a way to use my extrovert skills of reaching out and connecting with people’s best intentions, in a way that helps the greater good.

  106. For #1259, could that “go into crowds and talk to strangers” itch perhaps be scratched by going on reddit and doing an AMA? Or asking questions in other people’s AMAs?

    Other social media may also have similar mechanisms for gathering strangers for conversation, but I’m not up on them.

  107. Suggestion for extroverts: offer yourself as a phone pal to your neighbours. Pick a radius and print out some pages stating your name, your local address, your phone number, and say that you are willing to have social phone calls with fellow isolation people, or whatever else you are willing to help with (grocery/pharmacy pickup, emergency supplies, etc.) Drop one in every mailbox within your radius. I’ve seen templates for these offers online that you can probably find fairly easily.

    A lot of people around you might be starved for human connection and voices. You can help them and yourself.

  108. I am a stress baker.

    My family has had enough already.

    I’m now leaving a new treat in the mailbox for the delivery person every day. Yesterday was chocolate cake, today was bread. Dunno what tomorrow is.

    I’m also dedicating at least 1 hour a day to deep cleaning. I have so much to send in donations, and the garage is constantly in flux between “naked- clean” and “wow the house exploded in to the garage”. Three of us don’t leave the house. Two do, for work (until they’re eventually closed). Then it will be one for essentials only. That person will also get to drop off donations and run to the dump.

  109. I’m really enjoying phone-in talk radio and panel discussions right now. Even total trash I’d never normally be interested in! Something about virtually “being with” a group of people feels different and companionable. In the UK, I especially like Call You and Yours and Woman’s Hour – I don’t know if overseas people can listen to them on BBC Sounds but they’re very soothing and not at all shouty!

  110. Yes to the virtual hangouts! We had two virtual after-works (after-after-work?) yesterday and for me it is super helpful to see people’s faces! Also check if there is any writers or artists you like who do virtual QAs right now, where you can both help economically and discuss and immerse yourself in topics with other interested parties.

  111. I see a lot of worries in social media about how to homeschool your kids during school shutdowns and parents seem very concerned that they have to have their kids doing school work for 8.5 hours per day or they’ll forget everything they’ve learned this year. As a homeschooled kid (3rd grade thru graduation*), I just want to let you know that we never did that much work. Once you eliminate the extras from the school day- the changing classrooms, study hall, bus rides- it’s far less time than that. We were done with school work by noon or 1 each day. And remember that life is school. Have your kids price a grocery list, scale a recipe, write letters to relatives, illustrate a favorite story, read awesome books about stuff they haven’t had the time for, figure out the instructions to a new game, plan and price a dream trip, the list goes on. They’ll be ok.

    *So, I didn’t technically graduate so much as I learned the neighbor was gonna go to community college and he had a car so I tagged along. But whatever. My mom made a diploma. It’s legit.

    1. This! This is something I am trying to get through to so many of my friends, especially the ones who are teachers. My kiddo is only 5, but we had been planning since before she was born to homeschool. When she’s interested in things we do them, when she needs a break in the middle of learning something we take a break. If she randomly asks me about an animal we watch videos about it. My friends who are teachers are used to having to do so much non stop they are the worst at home with their own kids. They are all pushing their kids to sit for hours upon hours studying, even ones with 5-6 year olds. And then wonder why it isn’t working. It’s like they are attempting to cram a weeks worth of work in every day and can’t figure out why their children aren’t behaving.

    2. Teacher, here: good districts/ teachers know, too that kids will gave widely varying access to structured time to do this stuff. My boss is explicitly telling us to send home enrichment and review, not the steps of our intended curriculum. So, if you school is Iike mine, don’t worry your kid is “falling behind”, just put in the loose learning routine that keeps you all sane. Board games are learning. Learning to cook is learning. Reading ebooks is super learning.

      1. JenfromWA, I’m sure glad there are teachers out there that understand learning and teaching from home is very different. I have at least 4 personal friends who are teachers and they are just don’t seem to. They’re massively overstimulating their own kids and aren’t listening to anyone with the reasoning that they are teachers and know best. It’s a difficult time for everyone in differing ways. I hope that they can figure it out. And your advice that doing everyday things is learning is great (and true)! I will definitely use that as an example next time they tell me how burnt out they are.

    3. What’s worked with our kids (ages 3 and 6): a theme a day. Pirates, penguins, Jupiter, insects, yeast – we watch videos, do a couple light activities (pretend, draw, some half-assed crafts with stuff in the house, cook together) and try to read books on it, either from our house or online. Playdoh has been used successfully for every single one of these themes so far. Exercise trips outside become migrating butterflies, astronaut journeys, penguins travelling to the sea.

      It’s many of the same activities we’d do on the weekends, just a new spin on them each day. Couple hours, max – gives something for kids to look forward to, and to talk to grandparents on video calls about.

      We’re not aiming to homeschool. We’re just adding a little more active schooling to home. has a ton of science-based activity ideas. For younger kids, the Spring Bingo and PBS Deep Look video series are *great*. Don’t try to do them all, don’t try to replicate school, just do what interests both you and them.

  112. Dear Captain Awkward!… Thank you for this amazing advice. I’m now quoting your advice at friends and lovers, and they are pondering it and finding it very wise. So THANK YOU!… Much love and Jedi hugs in a time of Coronavirus…

  113. Like others, I made short list of things to do every day, including meditation, exercise, go outside and get fresh air, deliberately play with the cat who is 11 and lazy (and is now more of an unofficial emotional support animal than ever before).

    The final item is laugh. Like really laugh – not just a quick “heh” at that last meme going by.

    Right now I’m counting a generous 20 seconds of handwashing via the “Charo Method” (follow her on Instagram, she’s a delight and a half). So I count to twenty by saying “one cuchi cuchi!, two cuchi cuchi!”. In my head this usually also mimics Count von Count (ONE! cuchi cuchi, TWO! cuchi cuchi). If that mashup doesn’t get me giggling, I imagine trying to keep a straight face and remain poised and not laugh while counting out loud – in front of a room during a very serious work presentation kind of situation (an unlikely scenario for many reasons, which is good because I will fail). I expect to switch up the words at some point, with something else that’s silly.

    At the end of all of all of this I’ve laughed and my hands are washed properly. Nothing feels funny at the moment. But we’ve heard for a long time about the benefits of laughter, and this seems like a good time to try and test it out.

  114. Another extrovert here! I am…not going to cope well with this. I keep having to remind myself (daily, always. Hourly, sometimes) that this is for The Greater Good and I have the chance to Be A Helper so I’m gonna take it and make Mr. Rogers proud. (I give myself this speech a lot. I live with no other humans and only one semi-cuddly cat.)

    Luckily I work with a bunch of extroverts that are also like this, so we have a company-wide group chat with a silly theme of the day. It started as “Show me your WFH set up” and moved to “What are you drinking with lunch today?” and “Whose pet is the most demanding of attention?”. We’re making more of an effort to pick up the phone and call each other about things unrelated to work. (I hate the phone so much, but it is genuinely going to save me, I think.)

    My college friends and I have a virtual reunion planned for tonight on Zoom. I’m on dating apps, so I get my fill of random stranger conversation that way. I browse silly-but-uplifting subreddits. Frankly I may soon resort to getting slightly tipsy and reading poetry on IG live. Who knows? Maybe this is the time to start some kind of silly YouTube channel a la My Drunk Kitchen.

    But right now the single most important thing I’m doing for myself is GETTING OFF OF TWITTER AT NIGHT. Sorry for the yelling, but I promise it does a whooooole lot of good to log off because that is *intentional* “alone” time. It’s time I’m choosing to make mine, vs. having alone-ness thrust upon me. I am choosing to virtually go home for the night and focus on me. It’s amazing how important that kind of routine is becoming, and how just the act of choosing it makes a difference.

    Jedi hugs, friend. We’re in this together.

  115. I made a little Twitter graphic of a crow squawking a speech bubble, and labeled it CORVID 19, and I have been putting different messages in there and sending them to friends. DOING MY PART.

    One thing I’m specifically doing to feel connected is participating in regularly scheduled virtual cocktail hours with my (large) extended family. I know this won’t be fun/unstressful for everyone!! But it’s been really nice to get to chat with a group o’ cousins I rarely get to see in person — we’ve been sharing favorite Disney movies, Tom Brady jokes, commiseration about bored and energetic children, etc. If there are family members you like but don’t get to hang out with as much as you’d like, maybe try a virtual cocktail hour with them!

  116. I’m an introvert, but I’m well connected DIGITALLY. If you can, go to Twitch. In fact, I would recommend one stream in particular: the 8-bit drummer. Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday 4:30-7:30 PM Eastern, this guy will go on camera with his drum set and play along to audience suggestions while telling jokes, talking to everyone (and the entire chat talks to each other), promoting positivity and connection and really good music and demonstrating it’s possible to play drums while laughing so hard you can’t breathe.

    Twitch in general is very good, though. A LOT of streamers devote themselves to interacting with the chat while they do (whatever they do): play games, performing original music, providing art tutorials. Having a friendly voice talk to you, even when you have to type back, helps. And a LOT of people on Twitch are ramping up how often they stream while expressly telling people not to subscribe or donate or anything involving money, because of the circumstances, so do NOT worry about that.

    Anyone play a video game? There’s a discord server for it. I’ve only had enough money/supplies to start social distancing on Monday for my 2(.5) weeks, but in the past three nights I’ve spent four hours online, in voice chats, playing video games with people I’ve never seen in real life. Yelling at each other (and being yelled at) and it’s something I do IN PERSON weekly with other friends, under normal circumstances.

    Setting a schedule helps, but be gentle. I have until 10 AM to be dressed and out of bed, have until noon to eat breakfast, must have ‘cleaned something’ by 2, exercised by 4. Loose guidelines, lots of wiggle room, but I get everything done and am not stressing about it.

    Hope this helps someone!

    1. I can here to suggest exactly this! Especially with the new Animal Crossing and Doom Eternal coming out today; there will be a lot of livestreams this next week.

  117. “This is a gift, pay it forward when you’re on your feet, not back”


    I have had a lot of success by calmly telling people that some time back, I was the one who needed help, and I’m glad I can pass it along – and I know they’ll be glad to pass it along in a year or two.

    It’s just cash. Wasn’t even mine to start with. No big emotions here, move along, move along.

  118. My high school friends and I have been using for a long time now to play games together, since we are spread out across the US/Canada. It is a free app that lets you play pretty much any game as though you’re doing local co-op – everyone can see the game and everyone can control the game (which can get a little chaotic, but that’s part of the fun). The host has to have Windows, but everyone else can use Mac or Windows or (though I’m not sure) other OSes. You do have to get the voice chat with a separate app – we usually do a FaceTime audio call on our phones or Google Hangouts.

  119. Captain, do you know of any resources or strategies that could help someone who’s trying to move (possibly to escape an abusive situation) during this pandemic? This isn’t my situation, but it occurs to me that for Americans, if the “stimulus checks” go through, the cash might really help some people get out of bad situations.

    1. I don’t know any resources or strategies specifically but and have both said they are staying open to calls and could probably work on individualized safety plans that include moving.

      People stuck (& stuck inside) with abusive partners is a nightmare.

  120. I don’t see anything in Extrovert LW’s letter to suggest this would be a nonstarter for them (vulnerable household members, etc):

    If they drive and have a car, this might be a good time to pick up a side hustle as an Uber/Lyft driver, or to volunteer driving people to appointments they can’t get to on their own. Meet those talking to strangers in person needs, in small, controlled numbers.

  121. This wouldn’t work in all neighborhoods, but in mine, I see more folks out for walks with strollers or dogs than usual. I have neither, but normally use walks for mental & physical health.

    “More” = passing maybe 6-7 people on a 45 minute walk, instead of 3-4.

    The convention for neighbor street chats seems to have settled on the width of the street as our safe distance. We aren’t talking about anything in particular, but it does help to get that bit of interaction, even at 15 feet apart, or whatever it is.

  122. LW #1259: I’ve been hearing very good things about a game-ish sort of thing called Kind Words, but I’m too much an anxious introvert to go giving advice/encouragement to random strangers. As an extravert, maybe this would be more up your alley?

    For me, the thing that’s been keeping the brain weasels mostly at bay this week is interactive fiction — these two short works in particular:

    The Matter of the Monster (which is silly fairytale fun and great to read to/with kids):

    and Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home (which is science-fictional and astronautical and gorgeously strange):

  123. Thank you for posting the karaoke link — I had almost forgotten I’m in a karaoke group that’s suspended all our in-person meetups for the foreseeable future, so that’s a great way to check in with them and keep in touch.

    If you would normally be going to a convention this time of year, maybe try Concellation 2020 — the running joke is that the con was canceled before it was even planned. It’s a space with 10,000 other non-attendees to make jokes and hang out and some of the threads are more serious while others are just full of jokes.

  124. Any veterinarians on this thread? I want to express my appreciation for your work. We have to have our dog put down tomorrow, and the vet’s office is staying open and communicating policy changes effectively and compassionately. Our pup is in fairly rapid decline, and if we had to wait a month or more, he would end up suffering quite a bit. As hard as it is to say good-bye, I’m so grateful that we can give him a gentle passing. THANK YOU, veterinarians and vet clinic staff!!!

  125. The main thing I’m doing is being *really* intentional about my media use. When crises happen in the world, I have a tendency to weld myself to the computer and read every news source, so I’m trying very hard not to do that. While I’m flipping through Facebook, I completely avoid stories about how dangerous the virus is and how fast it’s spreading (I know that already and I can’t do anything about that besides what I’m already doing), what idiots are doing (helpless rage serves no useful purpose, it just makes me feel bad), and how difficult things will be in the future (speculation, and sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof). Instead, I only read articles that are liable to be uplifting (look for the helpers) or that contain practical, helpful information (e.g. latest instructions from public health authorities, how to apply for the government’s new benefits, opportunities to volunteer online) that I can actually do something about or at least signal boost. I make an exception for political issues that I may actually be able to do something about (e.g. signal boost, write letters to elected officials), but I put a noticeable amount of effort into making sure I don’t get into a spiral/rabbit hole with those.

    1. Same! I’m trying to only read the news once a day, at around the same time every day, to avoid feeding a cycle of anxious impulsive news-checking.

  126. As a somewhat extroverted person who has been stuck inside with chronic fatigue syndrome for ~2.5 years: you will survive this and it will not be as bad as you think it will. Video calls and online chats are almost as good as IRL interaction, and all your friends are stuck inside and bored as well. I’ve had more video calls in the last week than I have in months (which as well as being wonderful is actually exhausting, but that’s just because I’m still sick).

    One cool thing a friend of mine organised recently is a video call escape room! He used a script from Escape This Podcast (there are lots here:, and four of us worked it through together. SO fun.

  127. I joined my neighborhood’s new community response team and just sitting in on the zoom training session with 100+ neighbors made my heart swell and my anxiety shrink. This group is through my alderman’s (city councilor) office and I found out about from her newsletter – the mutual aid societies on FB that CA mentioned sound similar to this.

    Some of the volunteer opportunities in this group seem good for extroverts – they need hotline operators (they’re using some platform that lets people get hotline calls on their cellphone) and then connect callers to volunteers (via WhatsApp) – there’s a list for volunteers who’ve signed up to go shopping / pick up meds and one for those who’ve signed up to socialize with people via phone or video chat.

  128. If your work uses Slack or similar, set up a channel for natterings, pet pictures, food pictures and general open office simulation. Someone at our work did this and it’s honestly helped so much with feeling connected to other people.

    If you can swing it, the advanced version is to hold a virtual yoga or brainteaser break once or twice a day. We already did this in the physical office, but even more people join in on the virtual version. It doesn’t have to be fancy – we do 10 stretches that are the same each time, and a couple of anagrams per day.

    If you want to talk to strangers, get Twitter, start using Twitter, mute words COVID and isolation if you have to, and get replying. For an outgoing person who can’t hack physical events, this has been a life saver.

  129. I’m a home health nurse, so I’m still out doing the rounds. Quite a few of my elderly/vulnerable clients have gone shopping in the last couple days out of either necessity or boredom. Please reach out to your neighbors, especially if you never have before. Now is the time to take an elder to the park and listen to their stories about the Great Depression or how everyone pulled together in World War II.

  130. I’m organising Magic the Gathering sessions via webcam with friends who already also have MTG cards in their house.

    I’m also trying to resist the urge to oversleep out of depression by setting a specific time-slot every morning, an hour after the time I ideally wake up, to do an activity I want to do (in my case, working on learning a language for half an hour), so that there’s something to get up for that I won’t want to miss.

  131. Hi Extrovert! This little introvert is really feeling for all you extroverts out there and I wish I had more extroverts like you in my life. What a kind, thoughtful, self aware person you are.

    I have read all the responses here and there are so many great suggestions. One thing I haven’t seen suggested is the use of a white noise generator. Very broadly speaking, extroverted people need more sensory stimulation that introverted people which is why a lot of extroverts gravitate towards people because they are the ultimate sensory simulators-noise, sound, movement, tactile! So self isolation is depriving you of a lot of sensory input. This is where the white noise generator comes in to play. There are great apps on the phone so you don’t have to fill your house with it – disrupting your fellow introverts – you can create your own personal extroverted haven 🙂

    An extra bonus is, if you experiment with different kinds of white noise, you may find it may also help with your anxiety.

    And how do I know about this? Because as well as being very introverted, I have a traumatic brain injury. Certain types of white noise are my absolute nemesis (being on the aeroplane for example) so the collection of specialists I have had to figure out what was going on and then explain it all to me as a part of my management plan. So it is wonderful to know that my nemesis may be another’s godsend.

  132. Adding to this that Steam codes for Drawful 2 are currently free on Jackbox’s website (it does specify US only):

    All of the other party packs and standalone games are discounted right now as well. My bar trivia team has been playing them remotely via Remote Play Together on Steam and Hangouts and it is a nice way to stay in touch and scratch the trivia itch with games like You Don’t Know Jack, Fibbage, and Trivia Murder Party.

  133. This might be weird, but – if you’re into gaming, maybe you can implement a virtual version of going out and talking to strangers? Lots of people will be playing MMOs, Second Life, etc. now. Offer to partner up for quests, send cheer emotes to others, give out crafting materials…?

    Not everyone will appreciate it, of course, but I figure that’s the same as in-person talking, haha. And I’ve made some truly great friends through MMOs.

  134. If you can afford to do so, both financially and physically, offer to buy groceries for those in need but frame it as a safety precaution (which it absolutely is). “Hey, I’m gonna brave Kroger, I’m picking up some stuff for people so fewer people have to go out, what do you need from there?” You’ll still have to negotiate a safe drop-off, but if it’s something you can manage, you can provide financial assistance AND minimize the number of people out there. A lot of people whose pride won’t let them ask for or accept money will probably say yes to this, because you’re emphasizing the safety aspects. When they ask about paying you back, you can tailor your answer to the person in question and how you think they’d react to “eh, we’ll work it out when this is all over” (which you then forget to ever do), vs “let me take care of this one” vs “don’t even worry about it.”

  135. I belong to a dance group with a lot of older people who don’t (yet) want to learn how to Skype but do use email. It’s a major part of their social life that has suddenly gone away.

    So, I sent them a group email:

    I would love to hear random thoughts from you all, things like what you had for breakfast, your mail was early, what games you are playing ETC. No special schedule, just when you need a break.

    To start off the conversation:

    I just accidentally poked a hole in a plastic Coke bottle, which just sprayed ALL OVER my kitchen. And me. I had just finished cleaning up my kitchen and then had to do it all over again. All I can say is “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

    LOL, Lucy

  136. I’m a manager (against my will) of a small team of writers — we’re all introvert types and OK with working from home all time but it means we’re likely to just merge with the couch without a reason to come into the office. So I initiated a once-an-hour-or-when-we-remember dance break. Whoever remembers posts a video in the Slack channel and then we all dance for three to seven minutes. (You can pick your own song too.) My wider team has gotten very excited by it, too

    1. Do you accept outside terpsichoreans, and/or can you recommend a public site that does the same thing?

  137. Hey LW 1259, I think it’s possible that either or both of these is true: (1) you’re an extrovert, but you’re not actually a party planner or organiser of things (party planners are but one type of extrovert) or (2) you have anxiety triggers or other dysfunctional thoughts around “must do more to help! girl guide zooms! check! video D&D for friends! check! contact neighbours! check! a good person would have done more though! chat roulette! check! phone literally every friend! check! a good person would have done more though! virtual party! check! so tired now, but sleeping isn’t helping people!” : ie, that suggestions about how you can help send you into a spiral of wearing yourself out helping and beating yourself up for not helping even more. “I’m not a good person and I must serve others even more” is a pretty common way to experience anxiety.

    An alternative framing: you have a mental illness and you’re struggling right now and it’s OK to ask for help and receive it rather than or as well as offering it. Your mental health requires social contact with strangers, and you can ask for that even if it’s not in the form of helping others. Can your family or any of your friends set up you on chat dates with strangers? Can they invite you to tag along on video D&D sessions and virtual parties etc that they’ve already set up? You deserve to get your social needs met safely because it’s what you need, not only as a service to other people. It would definitely be nice if you can line them up together, but it’s also OK to approach this with your own needs in mind first.

  138. One of my BFFs is an extrovert, and she’s started reading aloud on WebEx. Streaming doesn’t have the real-time effect of people saying “hang on, need a stretch break” — she needs the verbal feedback.

  139. One thing to keep in mind is that not all people who help keep people fed are paid. Lots of non-profits such as food banks and meal delivery services are suffering right now because they don’t have enough volunteers coming in. The people who can’t afford the grocery store or can’t travel to get their own food still need to eat. So if you are healthy and have not been around anyone who isn’t, you may be able to find an organization in your area that would be super appreciative of your volunteer time and would allow you to meet new people.

  140. LW 1259: if you or anyone else needs social contact with new people, try things like Silverline (UK), a scheme for people to contact elders and chat with them. Silverline acts as an intermediary to protect everyone’s private details; you phone them and they put you through to a person, and you speak to that person at the same time every week. It’s not the same as going out in a crowd, but hopefully it might give your brain some of the same kind of input?

    For me, I gave my phone number to three of my neighbours, just in case, and am currently setting up online deliveries for my Dad, since he doesn’t have a computer

  141. As someone who is also anxious, autistic and struggles with change, a few things I am doing to look after myself right now:

    – My (very new) work from home schedule includes a long lunch break where I go outside, on my own, to exercise (walk, run or cycle). This is currently allowed and helps me not to feel “trapped” inside the walls of my house.
    – My WFH schedule has specific times for work, outside of which I switch the laptop off and physically put it away in a box and do not get it out again.
    – I’m planning out some structured projects to keep me busy outside of work, but inside the house.
    – I am using Facebook messenger A LOT more than usual, to keep in touch with friends and “work friends”, and phoning family most days. This helps me to feel less alone – IM in particular is good for trying to replicate the “ad-hoc” contact you get working in an office and spending time in larger social spaces.

  142. I have a slightly different concern, I guess, from what many people are dealing with in trying to get their friends and family to take social distancing seriously. I am currently attempting to practice social distancing and isolation while living with a parent who is actually way *too* afraid of Covid-19. She has taken the principles of distancing to an extreme and is terrified that the virus will enter our home if we have any contact with the outside, including necessary trips to buy groceries or pick up prescription medications.

    She will not share any common spaces with me out of fear I will infect her, though I have actually been practising self isolation for several weeks myself and have only left the house a small number of times for necessary errands (i.e. groceries and pharmacy, and once to walk in the park). She insists that only she should have access to the kitchen or any household food. The only system she will accept is if she prepares all household meals and leaves them on the top of the stairs for me to come and retrieve while she effectively hides in another room. She believes it is absolutely necessary to wash vegetables with soap and hot water to eradicate the virus, and refuses to believe any scientific articles I present her with explaining that the virus is a respiratory infection and therefore not food-borne, can reside on surfaces only for a limited time, etc. She became visibly upset when I suggested I might order food delivered to the house and consume it myself in another room, because she thinks it’s almost certain I would be exposed to the virus (she has visions of dirty kitchens full of infected people with unwashed hands coughing and spitting into the food continually, essentially) and therefore potentially infect her.

    The essence of the problem is that…if I go outside the extremely rigid rules she has established for herself, she believes I am choosing to become “contaminated” and willingly putting her life at risk. I am not “allowed” to use our laundry machine, pet our family dog, or use the front door to take out any trash that collects in the basement.

    I returned to the suburban family home to wait out the worst of Covid-19 because I live in a dense urban area with an overburdened healthcare system, and I was concerned that I might become a vector to many of my neighbours who belong to high-risk groups. I was also very concerned about my mom isolating herself in a way damaging to her mental health. I thought maybe I could model a more balanced approach while giving her some company, but…it’s a disaster. There are now travel bans in place preventing me from returning to my own home, probably for several weeks.

    I wonder if anyone else is going through something like this? Or is themselves experiencing very high levels of anxiety about the virus, and can give me some insight?

    1. Sorry, this went to Spam! I have liberated it.

      There was a very good piece on food safety from Serious Eats. You’ve probably already shared it with your mom.

      Your mom is translating her anxiety into controlling and abusive behavior. She cannot control the news, the virus, the world, so she’s trying to control you. I think this is a common thing that is happening to lots of people who are trapped with controlling and abusive relatives and partners and the usual “get awayyyyyy” advice is harder to implement.

      It doesn’t sound like complying with this stuff lessens her anxiety in any way, she just looks for another thing to be scared of and weird how it’s always something YOU are doing. So if you think “Mom, I am taking reasonable precautions. You cannot forbid me from ordering FOOD or preparing my own FOOD” or “If I’d known you would be terrified OF ME and insist I not touch anything, I would not have come home” or “Mom, I know you are scared, but you are treating me horribly and this cannot go on, call your doctor and talk to them about anxiety” will help and then preparing your own food/ordering your own food/petting the dog/sitting where you want anyway won’t make it even worse, then try that. (Like, let her scrub everything you touch if she wants to, if she won’t actually harm you.) If there is other nearby family you could crash with, go there. If there is a nearby AirBnB you could affordably rent for a few weeks (lots of people are desperate to rent their places now that tourism is done), do it? This is not sustainable or healthy.

    2. I don’t know that I have substantially different advice, but I will echo the Captain’s sentiment that this is abusive behavior driven by irrational anxiety and you cannot fix it or alleviate it by complying with her ‘rules’–it sounds like not only is she taking extreme precautions, she’s doing things which aren’t even recommended by anyone (not letting you wash clothes? not letting you *pet the dog*? not letting *you* get food delivery?) and no amount of using tissues/washing surfaces/actually following guidelines will make her see much sense.

      If it’s possible to just do the things you need to do to stay sane without arguing with her actively/while avoiding her I think that may be the most possible solution–get food delivery and don’t tell her, pet the dog and don’t tell her, use the washing machine and don’t tell her, etc. Arguing with her will reinforce the anxieties because she will get to feel more afraid (therefore more anxious) and come up with ‘reasons’ why she is correct and properly paranoid etc (and therefore her behavior will seem more and more rational to her).

      This might sound cruel, but when my own irrational anxiety is at its peak nothing anyone else can do can reasonably reassure me except time and refusing to reinforce it. Especially when it comes to stuff where *some* fear is warranted and *some* actions are useful/necessary to avoid catastrophe/deal with crises, trying to fix a person’s overreacting fear is impossible by complying with their ‘rules’ and/or verbally talking them through it. Literally nothing made me feel better during my own stuff than people refusing to agree with me and doing the things anyway, and beyond that, it would have been totally unacceptable to put other people in a cage made of my neuroses. What she’s doing is not okay–creating additional burdens and stress and not allowing basic human comfort (petting a dog! Being around one’s loved ones who are in the same house!) or hygiene (you need to be able to wash clothes) or needs (food) is abusive. You have to put your own oxygen mask on now, I would say.

      (I’m not saying that helping her anxiety your job but it sounds like you care very much for her and want her to feel better and not be in such fear. So the best thing for her and for you is to take care of yourself and focus on living the way you have to/is good for you.)

      The best thing for you right now kind of sounds like escape, if you can–I echo the idea of an AirBnB, staying with other relatives or friends, or even if she can afford it getting your mother to pay you for a hotel/motel room, if that’s possible.

      Sending you strength and sympathy. This sounds like a really, really hard situation and I hope it improves rapidly soon.

  143. If you need to get it through a thick introvert’s head how damaging this is to your mental health (which… you really shouldn’t have to because doing emotional work while you’re going through this isn’t okay). I suggest asking them how they would fare if there was an emergency that caused them to live in one room with four other people for the foreseeable future.

    If possible, get someone on Team You to knock some sense into their heads instead of you?

    Good luck!

  144. LW 1259: I can absolutely commiserate about having your main coping mechanism be out of commission. It sucks.

    (I’m not an extrovert, and I have different mental health issues and a different main coping mechanism that I’m talking about — long walks, which I can’t do for chronic illness reasons. Still: I know what it’s like to have *the* thing that you’re used to relying on for getting out of a bad head space not be there any more.)

  145. I am so sorry! I had read too fast and did not see the direction for introverts not to complain about extroverts. I hope that the suggestion about ways requests for social support can feel safer has tool value.

  146. My big suggestion, as an ambivert and Very Hyperactive Fidgety Person Who NEEEEEEEDS Exercise, is the good old fashioned *phone* – NOT a Zoom or other video call. I sit in front of the computer 8 hours a day working from home and the absolute last thing in the world I want is yet more screen time when I’m done.

    Using the phone with a headset lets me cook dinner, work in the garden, organize, clean house, or just pace around the yard while talking. It’s a better simulation of actually *doing* things with people, instead of feeling even more chained to my computer.

  147. My D&D group has moved online for the time being; we’re using a combination of roll20 and discord. That’s my main social outlet. It’s been a while since most of my social interactions with friends were remote (although that’s now started again), but the key bit of advice I wish I’d had before that happened was “be aware that some of the people you’re calling/skyping/facetiming are in the same place and interacting. You may feel jealous or hurt or left out or even angry. That’s okay. Taking it out on them isn’t. Know which GSFs you’re prone to, and prepare in advance. Make sure to schedule 1-on-1 time with the people you need it with and maintain your interactions outside of just The Group.”

    As for me, making sure to 1) get time outside and 2) have some sort of concrete tangible result on things (sorry, Captain -they’re both necessary) is absolutely critical for self-care.

  148. To be honest, the comments on this post haven’t been successful at staying out of extrovert-hating territory, considering I, an extrovert with anxiety, can’t get any work done after reading them, and I’m semi-curled in a ball on my home office chair.

    1. I’m sorry for that.

      I think knowing whether one is an introvert or an extravert is a matter of *self* regulation & care.” Oh, I might need to build in some solo downtime if I am going to go to this big group event” vs. “Hey I am going to be away from my usual people, how do I recharge with some socializing?”

      Level 2 is like, “Oh wait not everyone likes the same stuff as me, where my style doesn’t match somebody else’s we should compromise.” “How do I make my needs clear when someone has a different style?”

      Unfortunately Level 3 has taken it to a kind of toxic fandom vibe. Star Wars, Star Trek, we all like space, but as soon as you mention one somebody’s gotta Kool-Aid man into promote the other. And they skip all the clear instructions because the code word was said and will this be the year Hufflequiff beats Slytherplume for the House Cup? Mac vs. PC! Thanks, I hate it.

  149. Dear LW #1259, haven’t read the whole thread yet but: “*If I get any “bUt EXtRovErTs DoN’t hAVe AnXiETy” comments, I’m going to cry.”

    I also am a (recently diagnosed 😉 extrovert, and I also suffer from depression and anxiety so: solidarity  fistbump elbow touch  wave from at least six feet away.

  150. One thing I have been able to do: my next door neighbour’s balcony is about 15 feet away with nothing but air in between (no ability to get just a bit closer, so no temptation). We’ve taking to going outside at the same time and having a coffee and a nice chat. It’s a lifesaver for me. It started by accident, but now we will text each other to meet up. Maybe if you don’t have a balcony, could you open a window and stick your head out? Sit on your front porch and bellow if you’re in a house?

    I will be reading the comments for self-care advice. My husband is home, but he has to start teaching online by next week, so he’s working twice as much, and I have no breaks with my 6 year old and am consequently doing more than I should, sleeping less than I need, and skipping most self-care beyond hygiene and sanitation. While scared as hell. Something’s got to give before I break down.

  151. My company had a virtual happy hour (25 Zoom spots were available; I saw about 15 people on screen) and people videochatted with our beverages and pets in view. It was fun to see people I hadn’t seen since moving to a distant state from the main office. We will continue this regularly as long as everyone has to telecommute.

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