For me, last Thursday marked one full week of social distancing, which meant one full week of talking nonstop about social distancing: how to help people who are suddenly out of work, whether I should decamp to my boomer parents’ house or stay the hell away, and what to cook to spread out my grocery runs as far out as possible. The subtext of each of these conversations is how anxious everyone is about coronavirus.
That anxiety is extremely valid — we’re all feeling it for a reason. But because the pandemic is affecting everyone so radically, it feels impossible to not talk about it. I say, let’s just talk about something else!
“When we’re thinking about something like the coronavirus … it tends to be worried thoughts about what might happen to us, to our family, to the world. Those kinds of thoughts tend to lead to feelings of anxiety and panic,” Cairo tells Bustle. “With distraction, we can bring ourselves back to the present moment and know that right now, we’re OK.”
To be clear, I’m not advocating for everyone to stick their heads in the sand and ignore the very real dangers this pandemic poses. And many people, especially medical professionals, grocery store employees, or other essential workers, don’t have the option to change the subject. But with estimates that Americans might be social distancing for months, I’m sure lots of us are down to pivot our Zoom convos toward anything — anything! — else.
“It's helpful to commiserate, but only to an extent,” Cairo says. “It's also helpful to know that we can talk and think about other things, too.”
Of course, it’s important to stay informed as the outbreak unfolds, since regulations are still changing day by day. But when you just need to hear about something good, here are 80 conversation starters to turn to, organized by most normal to most weirdly specific.
- What’s one thing you did today you’re proud of?
- What’s one thing you’re grateful for?
- What’s one thing you’re excited about for tomorrow?
Crafting A Routine
- How do you transition from work from home to at-home night mode?
- What are you doing for dinner?
- What’s your morning routine?
- What’s your go-to WFH breakfast? Non-workday breakfast?
- What time do you usually work out?
- What is the most chaotic thing you do as part of your routine?
- Why is dance cardio so fun?
- What’s the best online yoga platform?
- Have you been able to finally get into running?
- Does kneading bread count as exercise?
- So how do we feel about Peloton now?
- Do you ever start a chat in the comments of a livestream?
- Debate: barre vs. pilates vs. yoga
Pets & Animals
- Have your pets done anything funny lately?
- What do you think your dog’s name for you is?
- What do you think Jessica’s dog’s name for Jessica is?
- Did you see the penguins taking a tour of their aquarium?
- What animal are you most like and why? (Cannot be your favorite animal!)
- Have you started any new hobbies?
- Have you started any new hobbies that you’re really bad at?
- Debate: Which streaming service actually has the best stuff?
- What niche new show are you watching?
- Is there an old TV show you’re re-watching? How is it better this time?
- Have you watched any of Netflix’s weird hidden movies?
- Have you watched Love Is Blind yet?
- What is Jessica’s deal??
- How much SVU have you watched in your life, cumulatively? Is it months' or years' worth?
- What have you been reading?
- Have you started any books that have just been unreadable?
- What podcasts are you listening to?
- What phone apps or games have you been playing?
- How much time have you spent playing The Sims in your life, cumulatively?
- Have you watched Cats yet?
- What’s the best cooking show on streaming?
- What is the worst show you’ve been watching that’s secretly very good?
Staying Entertained… Hornily
- What’s your go-to opening sext?
- What’s your new go-to dating app line?
- Do you ever download dating apps just for the ego boost?
- What vibrator is your new go-to?
- What’s your favorite kind of porn?
- Have you met anyone in a Zoom party you’d want to date IRL?
- Have you ever hooked up with anyone in a Zoom breakout room?
- Would you ever date someone Love Is Blind-style?
- But wait, isn’t a Zoom date kind of like Love Is Blind?
- What annoying habit have you noticed your roommate doing?
- What annoying habit have you noticed your neighbor doing?
- What annoying habit have you noticed your partner doing?
- Debate: Zoom vs. FaceTime.
- Have you been Instagram-storying a lot more or a lot less?
- Debate: Are Instagram likes disappearing good or bad?
- Are you on TikTok yet?
- Have you learned any good TikTok dances?
- How long did it take you to learn Renegade?
- Is everyone using Twitch without me?
Stirring The Pot
- Debate: What pasta goes best with pesto?
- Debate: What’s the best Trader Joe’s seasoning?
- Debate: Is avocado toast guacamole?
- Debate: Is a hot dog a sandwich?
- What about a taco?
- Debate: Barnett?
- Does anyone actually like Zoom parties?
- What’s an appropriate number of exclamation marks to use in a work email?
- What’s the appropriate number of “ha”s in a “hahaha”?
- Why does ending a text with a period make someone sound mad?
- The Gilmore Girls revival was actually ____.
- What do you think each of the Kardashian-Jenners is doing right now?
- What do you think Mariah Carey’s social-distancing routine looks like?
- What do you think Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s social-distancing routine looks like?
- What do you think Lauren and Cameron’s social-distancing routine looks like?
Stirring The Pot 2: Beans Edition
- Canned or dry?
- Crock-Pot, Instant Pot, or Dutch oven?
- What’s the best bean stew recipe?
- Pasta and beans or rice and beans?
- What kind of beans do you think Brad Leone is making right now?
- What about Andy?
- Have you watched the jelly bean episode of Gourmet Makes?
- What kind of Gourmet Makes do you feel qualified to attempt yourself?