Written by Todd Simmons
It wasn’t at all the typical goodbye at the end of the school year. We know it’s hard for a million reasons and grieve with you the things that are forever changed because of it. But that shouldn’t be the end of building and deepening your brotherhood and friendships.
Today, as most brothers are faced with this abrupt and unexpected separation, you are lucky to live in such an age with many ways to connect with brothers while being apart.
Regardless of each brother’s personal interest, see the following platforms and opportunities designed to help you engage with one another virtually.
Just a few weeks ago, in-person interaction with your brothers was easy. Now, instead, try by hosting a video chat, either for a small group of brothers or even the entire chapter. Free platforms such as Facetime, Skype, or Houseparty are useful.
Another option is the app Marco Polo, especially if brothers want to have conversations that are more personal than a text but don’t want to sit down for a video chat.
If you are looking to continue the casual conversation with others while doing remote work or studying, hybrid-models that use both chat and text, like Slack and Discord, allow for members to connect through either a mobile or desktop app and stay connected while focusing on their own work.
Although the campus recreation center may be closed, it is pretty easy to enjoy a workout right in your family home. Most people like the accountability of working out among friends, so you can set up group workouts for members who are interested. Just schedule a specific time and decide how (Snapchat, video, etc.). This not only combats laziness and being suddenly sedentary, but it also connects you with friends while sharing a healthy and fun activity.
The Iron Phi program has designated 4:44 p.m. as “Iron Phi Time,” a perfect time of day to facilitate this brotherhood.
Or you can engage brothers through workout challenges via apps like the Nike Run Club or through wristband devices like Fitbit or Apple Watch. These challenges can be specific to the participants but provide an additional touch point with friends while completing workouts together. Not the same as doing it together, but not bad.
For our gamers, stay connected while separated by distance through playing games with brothers. Games such as Fortnite, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Super Smash Bros: Ultimate can provide a fun space to engage with your brothers while communicating during and in-between games. Along with playing with brothers, you can also create a members-only server on Minecraft for members to utilize and play on.
If playing video games isn’t your thing, Twitch, a live streaming video platform that allows gamers to stream their games for others to watch while they play, allows for similar interactions between player and spectator.
For the traditionalist, an app like GamePigeon allows users to play five different old style games in iMessage: 8-ball, poker, sea battle, anagrams, and gomoku.
Even if you cannot be in the same room as your brothers, watching movies or episodes from the same series can be a good way to create shared experiences from afar. You can create a list of movies/episodes to share with all members, to provide shared experiences and reasons to communicate and engage.
If brothers would rather watch movies/episodes together, this can still be a reality while practicing social distancing. Third-party extensions, such as Netflix Party for Chrome, allow a video streaming service while also allowing communication capabilities for participants during the movie/episode.
Listening to music is something that many of you do, whether alone or with others. Brothers can share music from afar with collaborative playlists using Spotify, which also allow others to add songs to a shared playlist.
Did you know that Phi Delta Theta recently created a Spotify playlist featuring Phi Delt artists?
In addition to your school reading list, leadership or skill building books can be a great shared opportunity. You can read actual books, if you’re old school, or if you prefer audio, try Libby or local library-provided platforms for books downloaded directly to your phone or tablet.
Create a space for brothers to discuss what they are reading fosters conversation and learning, whether this is through text-based chatting or video calls. Regardless of whether brothers are reading the same books or have picked up one on their own, discussing what each of you are reading is a great way to idea share.
As you adjust to new schedules and routines, it is important to uphold some of the rituals that kept you grounded just weeks ago. For many, that includes communicating with your chapter brothers about your lives or engaging in other activities with each other. Just like courses and chapter meetings are finding their places online, there is also space for us to rethink the ways in which we are keeping up with brothers while separated by distance.