Technology is vital in maintaining emotional health during pandemic

By Bruce Hartley
Life Columnist

Spring 2020 will be one for the books. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our world in many ways due to physical distancing. In May, I hope the impact of the pandemic decreases, but I still want to dedicate this column to the “new normal” we may see continuing for the near future.

Technology has plays a significant role in how we connect with our friends and family. This concept is nothing new for most LGBTQ people due to dating apps such as GROWLr, Grinder and others. Bill and I met in 2013 thanks to GROWLr, and now we are an old married couple.

We both currently work from home and are learning about new technology that allows us to do business and be social during the pandemic.

Zoom is the video chat app we both use to conduct business from home. I am a university professor and converted all my on-ground college classes to remote learning during the pandemic. This change was challenging at first, but with some practice, it was fun and engaging for my students.

Bill has also used Zoom in is work as a food broker. His company conducts meetings via Zoom, as well. We have heard from many friends and family members who are using various platforms for video chat.

We learned about a new platform that allows users to utilize Facebook Messenger to video chat with up to eight people from a desktop computer. In the past, Messenger video calls were only available on mobile devices. The new desktop option allows for group chatting. We tested it with my 82-year-old mother and her two sisters, along with a few cousins, and it was amazing how well it worked. I was thrilled to see how easy it was for all ages.

We also have used the new desktop version of Messenger to connect the friends who we cannot see in person. Our best buddies live in Oklahoma City, and this new technology helped us stay connected. I have teased that this reminds me of the Jetsons cartoon from my childhood. I would never have dreamed I would see video chatting a reality in my lifetime.

Emotional health is vital as we assist in flattening the curve of the pandemic. Connecting with your friends and families via technology may be scary, but it really is not difficult once you try it.

Facebook has another function called FaceTime, which is also an easy way to video chat. This option is not a group video chat but is a one-on-one chat. Facebook has become a standard for many older people. I hope you will try FaceTime with your family and friends.

Virtual gatherings may seem odd, but with the help of technology, we can still connect. Ideas for virtual get-togethers via technology include virtual dinners, virtual dance parties, virtual backyard picnics, virtual yoga, and workouts, Facebook watch parties and more.

We cannot forget our mothers in May. Think about what technology you will use to show your mother how much you love on Mother’s Day. Zoom, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook Live are free and can be used on a computer or mobile device.

Now I want to request our entire LGBTQ community to use this time to respond to the National Census and make sure you have registered to vote. The census and voter registration can be done online and are critical. 2020 may be the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is also the year when we vote in November for President of the United States.

The LGBTQ community has power, and we can demonstrate our strength by voting. I challenge all readers to confirm they are registered to vote now, so they are ready to vote when the time comes.

Copyright The Gayly. 5/25/2020@ 8:17 a.m. CST.