Loneliness is something many of us have experienced with the recent restrictions in place. An astounding 9 million people in the UK (nearly 1/5 of the population) say they are always or often lonely, two thirds of which feel uncomfortable admitting to it. What makes this even more staggering is the research was done before the isolating COVID-19 lockdown even started.
The Marmalade’s Trust ‘Loneliness Awareness Week’ (LAW) takes place this year from 15th – 19th June. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness and understanding of loneliness and to help ourselves and others manage feelings of loneliness. Due to current circumstances, this year they’re hosting a virtual campaign called ‘One Less L
onely Voice’; taking the ‘one’ out of loneliness, to signify one less lonely voice.
No matter what you may think of the use of technology for social interactions, it’s definitely proven to be beneficial during these challenging times. Let’s look at some of the best uses of technology to tackle loneliness.
Perhaps the most obvious use of technology, social media has proved its use by keeping us connected. From our nearest and dearest to like-minded acquaintances, it’s given us the means to keep in touch, and check-up on each other. Some of the ‘best’ (arguably!) being:
But, we all know social media has its flaws, from newsfeeds filled with dirty laundry, political jibes, and quite simply depressing news from around the world, our reliance on it – in these times especially – sometimes has more of a negative effect on our mental health than a positive one. It’s always worth remembering that although we can’t control all the content we see, we do have the ability to ensure we follow accounts that uplift, rather than downbeat. Some of our favourites in the office range from:
- Thoughts of Dog (@dog_feelings) on Twitter
- Tastemade UK on Facebook
- Kevin Parry (@kevinbparry) on Instagram
- Simone Giertz on YouTube
Or of course, you could always just delete the feed on platforms like Facebook and keep the direct messaging service – but where will you find all the cute dog videos?!
We know as well as anyone that this whole ‘working from home’ malarkey has its perks – an extra half hour lie in every morning, not having to look particularly ‘presentable’, dressing gowns and slippers. The list goes on. These dastardly video calls are scuppering our efforts – but proving invaluable in keeping us connected.
There are various platforms providing this service. Zoom and Skype have both spiked in popularity, for businesses and family/friend groups. Their key benefit is they allow multiple users to join a conversation. Here at Clear, Zoom has proved a vital tool in not only keeping us connected with clients to complete projects, but also to have internal catch-ups and weekly quizzes to make sure we’re all staying sociable and doing okay.
For smaller groups or one-to-one video calls, most social media platforms mentioned above offer this functionality. You can also find apps like HouseParty, which even allows you to play games such as ‘Draw Something’ (basically Pictionary) with the group!
The online gaming world isn’t just for hard-core gamers. There are plenty of options for non-game-fanatics to get involved with and use as a way of interacting with friends. As well as the aforementioned HouseParty, there are phone app options such as:
- 8 Ball Pool, Android and iOS
- Evil Apples, Android and iOS
- Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Android and iOS
However, if the world of gaming is calling, some of the most popular online multiplayer games are (so I’m told?):
Online Streaming with Friends
Online streaming services have seen significant use during the pandemic, with many users relying on it as their main form of entertainment. To make it a more sociable experience, streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer have launched options to watch shows and movies ‘with’ friends.
Netflix Party synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to link up with friends and host long distance movie nights and TV watch parties, whilst BBC Together allows users to watch or listen to BBC programmes with them at exactly the same time. No more excuses for secretly watching more episodes of your partner’s favourite series without them anymore!
Virtual & Home Assistants
Now, stay with me on this one. I’m not necessarily saying that the company of a virtual assistant can replace that of actual human interaction, as there’s only so many times you can ask “Alexa, surely you can’t be serious?”, but their functionalities to allow for easier calling and messaging without even touching a button could help in keeping us connected. There are many alternative services and devices now available:
- Amazon Echo – AKA ‘Alexa’
- Google Home and Nest
- Google Assistant - Phone App, Android and iOS
- Siri (Apple Devices)
- Cortana (Microsoft Devices)
It seems pretty clear that we have plenty of options to keep us connected and battle the loneliness of not only the isolation lockdown has brought to most of us, but also the loneliness many face in everyday life. No matter what category you fall into, be sure to join the conversation, and check-in on those you think may enjoy and benefit from a chat! #LetsTalkLoneliness
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