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What’s a social being meant to do in isolation?

IMAGES BY JORDAN DRYSDALE
WORDS BY HANNAH COLE

Tips for all you social butterflies out there.

Initially, the idea of a little isolation sounded somewhat appealing – finally, the permission I need to switch off. My brain waves frazzled back and forth with plans. I would read all the books amassing next to my bed. I would learn to make gnocchi. I would start crafting sourdough and become a patient baker (along with the rest of the isolated world it would seem). I would rediscover myself and invent a decadent future for myself. 

But as social distancing has become a policed way of life – where the rules are confusing and often stressful – the sheen has started to dissipate. I’ve always relied on my weekly happy hours and adventures with friends to whet my social appetite. Now it has sunk in that I can no longer indulge with my friends in these ways. There is no such thing as an after-work drink or weekend brunch in the time of corona.  

Everything has slowed down, and with it, the way we communicate has drastically changed. It would be out of character for me to pick up the phone for a quick chat just *because*. It’s taking all the effort I can muster up to plan a few FaceTimes; I’ve been phone-averse my whole life.  

But in this new era, I have no choice, and my social needs require at least some form of interaction. With endless Zoom sessions out of the question, I’ve dedicated my silent hours to scheming grand new ways to communicate with loved ones. Here’s a snippet for you – try one, or try them all. 

Host a baking party

If you can get your mittens on flour, you are one of the lucky few. It seems the Australian public has set some big MasterChef goals over the next few months, so shortages have ensued.

Nonetheless, let’s work with what you have in your pantry (or your mum’s, or neighbour’s). Find your recipe – I recommend Googling recipes that help use up some of the lonely fruits or shelf staples you have lying around and going from there. 

Next step: dial in a friend. Cook up the same recipe if you’re keen for some good old-fashioned virtual competition (who will have the winning cake?) or opt for something different to serve as inspiration for the next bake-a-thon. Get chatting and start baking. Practice your TV personality skills and recreate your favourite home cooking show, or stir and giggle away. Not only will you receive an instant hit of endorphins, but you’ll also end up with a warm, freshly-baked snack for later, too. 

Take a class

Everyone keeps talking about upskilling and using this time “productively”. If you don’t have the energy, don’t force it, but if you’re looking for a way to unleash creative energy, check out some offerings from your favourite art schools and venues. Now we can take (often intimidating) courses from the comfort of our home, without the embarrassment of beginner’s efforts. 

Seduce your friends and register together for an evening of creativity. Redfern’s 107 has taken its card and poster making courses online; Melbourne Art Class is offering drawing courses via Zoom (for kids and adults).

The NGV is offering drawing classes online, and the Australian Ballet is hosting virtual ballet workouts, and both are completely free. Clay Sydney is bringing classes to your kitchen table (offered Australia-wide), or just plug into a few Bob Ross clips together and get arty for no cost at all. If art isn’t your thing, keep an eye on DRNKS – they’ve been running wine tastings online. Nothing has ever sounded so good.

Game up

We could always bring back the days of Words With Friends, but I fear that time has passed. Instead, hit up Playingcards.io and lock in a virtual games night. 

Hook up a FaceTime/Zoom call on a laptop at each end and set up a games room on your own phones. Choose from Remote Insensitivity (i.e. Cards Against Humanity), Go Fish, Checkers, or make your own with the custom board. Fashion the cheeseboard and pour the wine and tuck into an evening of laughs (even if it is experienced through a screen).

Start writing

Retrieving the mail could soon become the highlight of your pals’ day. We’re taking things offline and bringing back ye olde pen pal. There’s nothing more heart-warming than a love note or two in your personalised scribbly script.  

Share a few postcards you have lying around, or pop in some excerpts from your burgeoning art career. Press some flowers and share a recipe card – anything to show you care and you’re there, whether in-person or not. These are the notes we will be kept in treasure boxes and read for years to come. The mark of pure, unbridled friendship in the midst of a pandemic. 

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