It’s no secret the pandemic led to a loneliness and isolation epidemic that continues to rear its ugly head more than three years later – and I fell right into it. I drifted from almost all of my friends during quarantine and things didn’t improve even as restrictions lifted, as it felt like a true disconnect set in.
I couldn’t stand it, so I made my New Year’s Resolution to “be a better friend.” Almost nine months into this deliberate, intentional effort to re-connect, I’ve found three apps have truly helped save my friendships in this post-COVID reality.
- Spotify. No, I don’t make playlists for everyone. (Though I’ve been known to crush it in that regard, be warned.) My rule was simple: if I heard a song and it made me think of a friend (or a party, or a memory with a friend), I hit share and sent it to them, letting them know this song made me think of them. And look, music taste can be tricky (even and maybe especially between close friends) but the response was amazing and it really makes people feel special.
- Birthday App. This is a major secret weapon: whenever I bring it up, it seems like everyone starts shh-ing because they don’t want the secret to get out. The premise is simple: Birthday App is a free app that knows all of your contact’s birthdays and instantly makes a calendar for you. You can tell the app which birthdays you want to prioritize (and want a little extra notice for), schedule gifts, create ridiculous original cards, and send voice notes that lock until they unwrap them on their birthday. Reaching out to a friend on their birthday when they don’t expect you to remember is the best – you look like a real super-friend. (Bonus tip: I found texting someone the day before their birthday really made people swoon and feel special.) Secret’s out.
- Instagram. We all know how Instagram works, unless you’re a time-traveler – and if you are, I’d really prefer if you spent more time handing over lotto numbers or taking out a certain Austrian-born failed artist and less time reading this post. The key with Instagram is positivity – any time you open the app, make it your mission to give a compliment to at least two stories. Don’t force it, don’t be fake – just be the hype person for your friends. Who doesn’t love to hear from the cheering section?
And it’s working. I feel closer to some friends than I did before the pandemic thanks to a little deliberate effort and a few messages letting my friends know “I’m thinking of you” or “you look hot.” It’s these tried and true techniques that always seem to work best, and these three apps have been a great way to amplify those messages.