The need for social distancing has led to many happy, if unintended, consequences. While it’s tough to spend so much time isolated, technology and virtual connections have created unintended consequences of social distancing that include more time to learn a new skill, attend virtual happy hours, become creative and develop content for the web.

Never have innovations in communications technology been more important. It’s given people access not only to other people as they live under stay-at-home orders, but also offers ways to stay productive during this unprecedented time.

Some of these unintended consequences of social distancing including the following.

Reaching People Via Social Media

For those who practice marketing online for their business, the pandemic has created an unprecedented situation. Even as they deal with their own personal situation, those who run websites have seen huge jumps in traffic as more people spend more time online. Trends in online behavior include:

  • Huge jumps in digital activity in countries and U.S. states where lockdowns are the strictest
  • More people are using social media, and video has taken center stage
  • More people are using ecommerce to buy everything
  • With more people staying at home, more are playing video games and watching esports

All this has led to some unexpected opportunities for digital advertisers to reach their audiences.

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Learning a New Skill

For those who want to use this time productively, there’s never been a better time to do so. For example, those who want to become a better cook will find a wide variety of cooking lessons on YouTube. Or you can learn a foreign language, how to play a musical instrument and how do just about any household chore.

Formal education is also an option. Sites such as EdX and Coursera offer the possibility to earn academic credit online for free. For those who want to learn a new skill, an unintended consequence of social distancing is that they now have the time – and the means – to do so.

Virtual Happy Hour

For those who want to maintain social contacts, they’ve learned that just because you can’t join friends at the bar for a drink doesn’t mean you can’t join friends for a drink at all. The virtual happy hour is something people are turning to as a way to keep socializing even as they stay at home. People are using Google Hangouts, Zoom or other virtual meeting places to get together and chat as they have a drink or two at home. It’s a simple but effective way to combat loneliness and isolation as the stay-at-home orders drag on.

Bolster Creativity

Much of technology is geared toward allowing for creativity, especially for writers and artists. For example, you now have more time for blogging, either for your website or to reach people interested in your hobbies. Websites such as Smashing Magazine give artists and designers the tools that can boost creativity.

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Read More Books

Sure, you can’t go to the bookstore or the library. But reading still offers one of the fastest ways to expand your mind, and online books make it easier than ever to read whatever you want. With an electronic, portable reader such as an Amazon Kindle, you can access thousands of books. What better time to catch up on the classics, contemporary literature or learn about a topic through great nonfiction? Reading also reduces stress and could add years to your life, according to numerous studies.

These are some of the ways technology is helping people cope with the isolation of coronavirus stay-at-home orders and allowing them to stay productive in their business, which is one of the unintended consequences of social distancing. It’s an opportunity to stay productive until it’s safe for society to return to normal.

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