Column: Socializing in a time of social distancing


Sarah Olender

Northeastern students socialize on Centennial from a socially distant length.

Katie Mogg, news correspondent

Although people have returned to work and school, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked relentless havoc on social life, leaving people feeling dejected and isolated. Indoor gatherings in Massachusetts, for instance, are limited to eight people per every 1,000 square feet. With such confining regulations, maintaining a palpable social life is challenging. However, with some innovation and creativity, socializing in a time of social distancing is possible and enjoyable. 

Here are some ideas to inspire safe socializing: 

  1. Go biking through the city

Biking in Boston is a cost-effective way to exercise, enjoy the changing seasons outside and spend time with friends while being conscious of public health. Boston is home to several bike paths, and Blue Bikes cost only $10 for 24-hour access, including two-hour unlimited rides. For an especially eye-catching biking experience, explore the Charles River or the Stonybrook Reservation bike paths.

2. Have a picnic 

Many restaurants have resorted to reduced capacities or take-out dining for the sake of mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Eating delicious food with friends, however, does not have to become an antiquated practice. Instead, buy a favorite meal to-go or bring a meal from home, take a couple close buddies to a local park and pop a squat six feet apart and chow down.

3. Go to a drive-in movie theater. 

Drive-in movie theaters were all the rave 70 years ago, and the pandemic has brought them back into fashion. Watching movies in an outdoor setting can still be a way to safely spend time with friends. Drive-in movie theaters provide a unique and fun experience where anyone can enjoy a film under the stars, socially-distanced from those around them. 

4. Netflix Party a series or movie

Despite drive-in movie theaters’ recent popularity, they are hard to find in the United States with only 325 currently in operation, and not every student has a car. Enjoying a television series or movie with friends does not have to entail a long trip to the closest drive-in theater. By using Netflix Party, a Google Chrome extension that allows multiple people to synchronously stream Netflix content, everyone can indulge in a shared viewing experience without leaving their home. 

5. Throw a bonfire 

The chilly fall and winter months are quickly approaching, which calls for a rapid drop in temperatures. By having cozy bonfires, cold weather does not have to deter safe outdoor gatherings. A socially-distanced bonfire is the perfect opportunity to bond with friends, keep warm while being outside and perhaps enjoy a s’more or two.

6. Start a book club

With more time spent safely at home, one may find extra time to thumb through a dusty book on the shelf. Discussing an intriguing novel with friends virtually or in a socially-distanced setting is a great way to quench the thirst for social activity. 

7. Visit a light park

This is the perfect time to indulge in outdoor activities that a pandemic-free life would non have allotted time for. Light parks are a fun, memorable and most importantly, safe night time attraction to enjoy with friends. Light parks have skyrocketed in popularity, often selling out for months. Boston is home to New England’s first light park, Boston Lights: A Lantern Experience, at the Franklin Park Zoo.  

8. Visit a museum 

As our country has marched through phases of reopening, museums have resumed business, albeit at reduced capacity and usually requiring pre-purchased entry tickets. Nevertheless, museums are a great way to connect with friends over a shared appreciation of culture. A few museums that have reopened in the Boston area include the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science and the New England Aquarium

9. Attend an outdoor exercise class

Many gyms have remained closed or operate at an extremely reduced capacity because an environment where people sweat and share equipment can create potential COVID-19 risks. As a result, many gyms have opted for outdoor exercise classes. A great way to enjoy the changing seasons and break a sweat while having socially-distanced fun is to bring a friend along to an outdoor exercise class.  

10. Go pumpkin or apple-picking

Regardless of the pandemic, pumpkin paraphernalia and candied apples bombards pop culture in the fall. Now more than ever, pumpkin patches and apple orchards are great places to spend time and satisfy the need for fun social gatherings while enjoying fall traditions. 

While the pandemic may have ushered in unwelcomed inconveniences like social distancing and mask-wearing, it is a small sacrifice made for the sake of public health.  Despite the limitations put on social life, there are a plethora of exciting activities and memories to be made while still avoiding exposure to COVID-19.