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'The past week has forced me to find new and creative ways to connect with friends'

Gráinne Sexton


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It has been two weeks since college closed and it is therefore not revelatory to admit that I miss the way things were. I miss my friends and the plans we had made for the months of March and April. I miss my part-time job and the co-worker I spent every Friday furtively chatting with. I miss sitting in seminars and engaging in impassioned debates with fellow students about the merits and failings of various literary texts.

Hit by a sudden wave of loneliness, I began this week feeling adrift and detached. Unlike the impulsive messages I am used to sending over Facebook or random tweets drafted to Twitter followers, I realised that meeting up with friends online doesn't just 'happen'. Similar to the low-level planning involved in organising coffee dates or casual pints, virtual interactions require a degree of organisation that, up until now, had eluded me.

The app of the moment is Houseparty. At a time when we are all seeking distraction from isolation and uncertainty, I have found it to be a godsend. My friends and I can chat over video call while also playing card games. We can invite other friends who are online to join - in the same way we'd invite a person to sit at our table in the pub. It's a strange feeling to be sitting in my pyjamas at home, roaring with laughter at a virtual version of Cards Against Humanity and staring at my friends through a screen. This is our new reality, however, and there is a common relief amongst us that at least we have this - some thread which is keeping us safely tied together.