Marissa Verson Harrison, a mother and advocate for more humane technology who lives in Oakland, Calif., similarly craved person-to-person conversation. After learning about Living Room Conversations, Ms. Harrison joined a discussion on what it means to be “alone,” and found it a refreshing break from social media and broadcast news. “A lot of what’s happening right now is you’re either screaming into the void, or you’re responding to other people screaming into the void,” she said.
Determined to help her family and friends experience deeper connections, Ms. Harrison hosted a Living Room Conversation on “Technology and Relationships” and called the experience “magical.” “Everyone left saying, ‘OMG, I have not been able to have these kinds of conversations’,” she said. They appreciate having found a place “where people can express themselves and listen to others without any agenda.”
There’s a science to that “magic,” Dr. Aron said. “When you have questions that encourage responsiveness, it creates an opportunity to show you care, and lots of research shows that feeling you’re being heard is key to creating closeness.”
Of course, there are also ways to connect without baring your soul. Some outgoing types don’t hesitate to post fliers around their neighborhoods to organize creative, socially distant ways to meet up with neighbors the old-fashioned way — in person — such as a dog parade, curbside cocktails, a garden tour. But not everyone is inclined to be an organizer.
That might explain the popularity of a New York-based MeetUp group called “I wanted to do that … just not alone!” Through the group’s online portal, organizers plan bike rides, park outings and other events for anyone seeking both adventure and company.
Shawn Jobe, a Queens resident and the group’s main organizer, says his involvement began 10 years ago with a revelation. “I was in school and working, and one of my bosses recommended MeetUp because he saw that I had no life,” Mr. Jobe said with a chuckle. “So by overtaking the planning of this group, it’s held me accountable to dedicate a chunk of my time to socializing.”
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 27, 2020
What should I consider when choosing a mask?
- There are a few basic things to consider. Does it have at least two layers? Good. If you hold it up to the light, can you see through it? Bad. Can you blow a candle out through your mask? Bad. Do you feel mostly OK wearing it for hours at a time? Good. The most important thing, after finding a mask that fits well without gapping, is to find a mask that you will wear. Spend some time picking out your mask, and find something that works with your personal style. You should be wearing it whenever you’re out in public for the foreseeable future. Read more: What’s the Best Material for a Mask?
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
- In the beginning, the coronavirus seemed like it was primarily a respiratory illness — many patients had fever and chills, were weak and tired, and coughed a lot, though some people don’t show many symptoms at all. Those who seemed sickest had pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome and received supplemental oxygen. By now, doctors have identified many more symptoms and syndromes. In April, the C.D.C. added to the list of early signs sore throat, fever, chills and muscle aches. Gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea and nausea, has also been observed. Another telltale sign of infection may be a sudden, profound diminution of one’s sense of smell and taste. Teenagers and young adults in some cases have developed painful red and purple lesions on their fingers and toes — nicknamed “Covid toe” — but few other serious symptoms.
Why does standing six feet away from others help?
- The coronavirus spreads primarily through droplets from your mouth and nose, especially when you cough or sneeze. The C.D.C., one of the organizations using that measure, bases its recommendation of six feet on the idea that most large droplets that people expel when they cough or sneeze will fall to the ground within six feet. But six feet has never been a magic number that guarantees complete protection. Sneezes, for instance, can launch droplets a lot farther than six feet, according to a recent study. It’s a rule of thumb: You should be safest standing six feet apart outside, especially when it’s windy. But keep a mask on at all times, even when you think you’re far enough apart.
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
- As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
Mr. Jobe, who has helped the group grow from roughly 400 members to nearly 24,000, says most members are not originally from the area, or have otherwise lost their network. “Everyone is there to meet new friends, so it kind of puts everyone on equal footing,” said Mr. Jobe, who has met many of his own close friends, including a current roommate, through the group.