Staying Connected During COVID-19
According to the NY Times, on Monday, March 30th, “at least 229 million people in at least 26 states, 66 counties, 14 cities and one territory are being urged to stay home.”[i] COVID-19 is forcing us to move indoors, shrink our world, limit our face-to-face contacts, and adding “social distancing” as a new phrase in our collective lexicon. If we don’t social distance, we risk contracting and spreading the virus; if we do social distance, we risk falling into isolation. Technology can help us navigate this damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation.
Almost all of us have a cell phone (96% per Pew Research). Smart phone ownership is at 81%, and “nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults now own desktop or laptop computers, while roughly half now own tablet computers . . .” [ii] We may need to socially distance but we can stay connected through our devices.
Granted, there is research to show millennials[iii] and Gen Z[iv] would rather text than talk but, remember, a cell phone is, first and foremost, a phone. Most of us have a circle of family and friends who are old-school and will engage in a verbal conversation. If the only way for you to connect with someone younger is to text, so be it, but intentionally reach out to those who enjoy hearing your voice.
Right after waking in the morning may not be the ideal moment to Facetime, but this is an option for staying connected. For those who need a bit bigger screen, there are connection apps like Zoom and Skype, which allow you to carry on a conversation in the comfort of your easy chair. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are additional ways to connect to others.
Staying connected to people is important, as is staying connected to reliable information. Be prudent and picky; use your technology wisely. County, state, and federal departments of health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are reliable sources of COVID-19 information. While staying at home helps control the spread of the virus, staying informed helps control the spread of rumors and misinformation. As you think about accessing reliable information, don’t forget about downloading a Bible app, one with a daily devotional and verse.
Avoid sitting for hours, passively watching show after show. Consider ways to be active and engaged using your technology. Call someone while taking a walk outdoors. Research a new skill online. Try out a new recipe or culinary technique as you prepare a meal.
Establish a routine. Intentionally factor in ways to both connect and entertain yourself via technology, maintaining a healthy balance between the two. Wake up and go to sleep on the same schedule, as much as possible. Map out daily need-to-dos and want-to-dos, remembering that connecting to others is part of the first.
People are scared and unsettled, two conditions that can create spiritual hunger. As you connect with others, be open about your faith, willing to share the hope and trust you have in Christ. Follow the guidance from 1 Peter 3:15, giving your answers of hope with gentleness and respect. As Christians, we have a unique opportunity to join God in creating good in this situation[v]. Be willing to use technology by taking a page from Paul; he wrote he was willing to become all things to all people so that by all possible means he might save some.[vi] In this time of social distancing, technology can certainly be part of “all possible means.”
Dr. Gregg Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE (www.aplaceofhope.com), a healthcare facility in Edmonds, Washington, which emphasizes whole-person care, addressing the emotional, relational, physical, and spiritual aspects of recovery. He is the author of multiple books and is a sought-after speaker in person, on television and radio (www.drgregoryjantz.com).
[v] Romans 8:28 NIV
[vi] I Corinthians 9:22 NIV