How to feel normal when you’re stuck at home
This is the story of Tommy. He lives alone in a one-bedroom condo in downtown San Diego.
In 2019 he spent most of his free time working out at the gym, attending yoga class, dating people he’d met with an app, hiking, browsing his local comic book store, reading in coffee shops, walking along the beach at sunset, and hanging out in breweries with his friends. He didn’t consider himself a geek, but he used technology to make his life better when it made sense. Besides using an app to meet potential romantic partners, he found technology helpful to manage the thermostat in his home and to keep his car secure. Maybe he’d reserve a movie at the nearby Redbox.
Cut to April, 2020. Due to a global pandemic, Tommy’s life looks different. To stay fit, he works out to YouTube videos and attends a Zoom session for yoga in his living room. He makes his own coffee and drinks it at his kitchen table, reading ebooks borrowed from the public library on his phone. The beaches are closed as part of the shelter-in-place order, but he can still watch the sunset from his bedroom window. He has beer delivered from his favorite breweries so that he can support them during what must be a tough time for them, financially, and he FaceTimes his closest friend for a virtual happy hour a few times a week.
Tommy has adapted well to the circumstances of the coronavirus. We sat down over a video chat and asked him to give our readers a few recommendations for coping with the shelter-in-place order. Here’s what he had to say.
BestTechie: We’re going to assume you’ve watched Tiger King already.
Tommy: (Laughs) Yeah, I did that the first weekend I stayed home.
BT: You told us you still attend classes with your regular yoga instructor – but now on video chat. Is this something you’d recommend others do?
T: Absolutely. Yoga helps keep me physically fit, but mentally fit, too. Being at home all the time, and in kind of a smaller space, this is really helpful. I also think it’s important to try to help support my yoga teacher while she can’t give classes at the studio. I want her to still be open for business when we get through all this. She’s really awesome.
BT: You seem to really advocate supporting local businesses rather than, say, Amazon.
T: Again, absolutely 100%. Not that I don’t use Amazon. I stream movies from there, and I’ve ordered some essentials so I wouldn’t have to leave and go to the store. But I have friends who work in the service industry because I normally spend so much time out and about. Breweries, restaurants, brewpubs, coffee shops. It seems like all of those businesses run on really narrow profit margins, and they have pretty high overhead. So this is an especially tough time for them. I am super appreciative of quality local products, and I want them to stay around after all this, just as I want my yoga teacher to still be there. I order coffee beans from my favorite coffee shop, beer from my favorite breweries, and so on.
BT: What types of technology do you use to stay in touch with your friends and family?
T: A lot of it is probably the usual. I text a lot of gifs and memes – more than I used to. I see what everyone else is doing on Instagram, and lately I’m really into TikTok. FaceTime and Zoom for video. One thing I found – I have a lot of friends whose birthdays are this time of the year, and I found online a way to send original birthday cards, so that’s cool. An ecard doesn’t carry any potentially harmful coronavirus germs! And for books, I found out that the San Diego library lends out ebooks for the Kindle. I didn’t have a Kindle, but I downloaded the app. So I can still read books, which I like to do from time to time.
BT: What’s the one thing you look forward to doing when this is all over?
T: Going for a hike, going to the beach, going on a date. That’s three things, sorry.
BT: (Laughs) No, it’s probably hard to narrow it down.
T: It really is. I think I’m looking forward most to hanging out with my friends in person. I’m going to hug them all. I wasn’t really a hugger before, but I think I’m going to be one now.