I’ve always been a sucker for a good story about someone making the most out of a not-so-ideal situation.
And these days, we need those types of stories more than ever.
We’re dealing with a public health and economic crisis that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen before… and because of that, we’ve had to adapt pretty quickly to a life that’s much more isolated than we’re used to.
About half of all adults in the U.S. are currently working from home. Our children have had to adapt to new methods of online learning, designed by teachers who had to completely shift their curricula almost overnight.
We’re looking out for each other by practicing safe social distancing… but that means that we can’t check in on our family, friends, and loved ones the same way that we used to. Our daily activities might include a solitary walk through the park – but otherwise, our social lives have pretty much become digital.
It all feels a little lonely, to say the least. And no one really knows when things will go back to normal – or what that normal will even look like when this crisis has subsided.
But I’m still feeling very hopeful – and here’s why.
It’s no easy task, but we’re seeing individuals and companies alike step up to the challenge of making the world feel a little bit warmer and a little bit closer.
And they’re doing this in a variety of ways…
I’ve seen student engineers adapt their business models to create face shields and other personal protective equipment for healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic.
I’ve seen companies send robots into senior living communities to help residents in quarantine cope with the loneliness that comes along with social distancing for so long.
And one of my favorites is the story of two artists from California who created a free app designed to revive the art of a good, old-fashioned phone call.
Their names are Danielle Baskin and Max Hawkins. The app, called Dialup, was released last year – before we could even predict what would be happening now.
The app is designed to create “serendipitous connections with strangers and extended networks,” according to Baskin – similar to striking up a conversation with a stranger at a bus stop or on an airplane.
Users can subscribe to “lines” – organized by themes like “Weekend Projects,” “Bob Ross,” and “Tarot Time” – and can connect throughout the day with other network users.
And the Dialup team has stepped up to the challenge of bridging the communication gaps we’re all feeling as we head into another week stuck at home.
In March, Baskin and Hawkins launched “QuarantineChat,” powered by Dialup. It’s mission? Connecting isolated people by simulating random conversations.
When you enter your phone number on their website – don’t worry… it’s all encrypted – you’ll be subscribed to periodic phone calls where you can talk about… well, just about anything.
It’s private and free, and you don’t have to pick up the phone if you don’t want to.
Maybe the idea of randomly connecting with strangers sounds a little awkward at first. It definitely does to me.
But perhaps just answering the phone is a step toward feeling a little bit more connected to the world these days… and maybe that’s just what we all need.
I’m pretty sure that QuarantineChat won’t be the last of its kind. In fact, I think it indicates that people are really searching for newer, more meaningful ways to connect with each other.
We’re living in an era where communication of all kinds can be instantly fulfilled at the touch of a button… and companies that capitalize on this are the ones I’ll be watching for.
Until next time,