The coronavirus forces millions of people around the world to stay confined. Many initiatives are developing to deal with containment.
Confinement due to coronavirus or not, Amaya Howard intends to continue to relax after a long day of work by sharing a few glasses of wine with her friends.
But what can you do when bars and other bars close one after the other and gatherings are discouraged? The group of friends simply got together on the internet, via Houseparty, one of the many videoconferencing applications that are all the rage with the pandemic.
“We had the idea of making a happy hour. We just connect to the application, we drink wine and we discuss everything and nothing”, explains Amaya Howard.
Particularly stressed applications
The young woman is not alone in this case. The downloads of these apps, which allow all guests to see who connects, have exploded. In March alone, Houseparty, which was very popular among teenagers two years ago, saw its downloads increase tenfold, to around 210,000 per day, according to the Apptopia site.
Other applications such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype or Rave are also in high demand, no doubt also boosted by an increased use of telework and distance education.
For Esmee Lavalette, a young Dutch woman who studies cinema in Los Angeles, confinement was an unexpected opportunity to reconnect with her friends in the Netherlands. The difference in time (eight hours now) certainly forces her to “drink during the day” but she seems to be reasoning.
“They organize parties every week, but since everything is canceled now, they decided to spend on Houseparty”, she explains to AFP.
“And for the first time in two and a half years, I was able to join them. So I was drunk at 2:00 pm”, says the student.
The video drinking session ended when the time was too late in Europe, and Esme returned to her homework. Even the evening planned to celebrate his diploma, which was to take place this week, has been reprogrammed in cyberspace.
We’ll all have a drink and something to snack on
These applications are useful for keeping in touch with friends, they are also a good way to preserve your mental balance in the face of the stress of confinement and the pandemic, note users.
Rachel Chadwick, a local community worker in Leeds, England, suffers from anxiety and depression. “I’m more of an extrovert … so this forced isolation is really difficult for me,” she explains.
Rachel and her friends are used to meeting for a “girls night” once a month, an appointment which is now held on the application.
“Tomorrow evening, we are doing a little quiz with a category for each of us, but we will all have a drink and things to snack on”, as for a meeting in the flesh.
One of the guests even “borrowed” a whiteboard from her work to mark the scores.
The opportunity to make new friends
The Houseparty application is also endowed with functionalities which allow this kind of quiz, games or drawings. A decisive asset for Fiama Liaudat, Spanish professor from Argentina and who lives in North Carolina.
With her teaching friends, before the coronavirus, she used to go out to bars or find herself at home to play board games. “The app allows us to keep doing it, except that it’s on our phones,” she said.
This interest in videoconferencing is even for some people the opportunity to make new friends. Amaya Howard has long chatted with strangers through forums connecting travelers. They recently met on Houseparty, discovering themselves for the first time face to face.
“We stayed until four or five in the morning, everyone had a drink. I really don’t seem to be foreigners anymore”, she concludes.