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Ask HN: How do you deel with loneliness when WFH alone?
40 points by throwAwayWFH873 48 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 33 comments
I find myself basically under a 3rd lock-down/curfew, working from home, single with friends scattered.

Basically, besides work related zoom meetings and the occasional hello exchanged with the delivery guy, my social interactions have been forcibly reduced to zero.

I'm sure other people are in the same boat, and would love to hear how you're tackling this?

I live alone in London (reading between the lines, I’m guessing OP is U.K. based), and find the simple act of going for a walk to get a coffee really helps when feeling lonely. Seeing other people on the street and the brief chit-chat with the barista help me feel more connected with broader society, and also get me out of my own head.

France, but pretty much similar (more cops though).

PS: It seems you're vaccinating more people and hopefully seeing the light at the end of the tunnel soon.

Join a UU church (https://www.uua.org/)! They've all over the country / world.

Seriously, I've been "WFH" at church instead of home, and I bump into friends I haven't seen in a while because of the lockdown, who are all eager to chat and catch up.

I can find a nice sunny spot with good Wifi and be left alone if I'm in a meeting, or hang out in the common areas and bump into people.

I am fortunate to have my life partner and dog pack, but I have been thinking about churches in general as possibly being a legitimate construct in humanity. I don't mean to phrase that offensively, "maybe there is something here" is a compliment to my mind, and not a slight to you. It's a step toward.

This comment caused me to reach out to a UU congregation leader friend of mine always inviting me. Not necessarily to visit, but to understand... What does UU mean in practice? You describe an environment that should be great, but then I think... What else is going on there?

If you would like to follow up to your post with why UU vs. elsewhere FOR YOU, I would be interested to hear. I am ignostic and shamanic personally.

Lockdown gave me opportunity to connect and reconnect with a lot more people than ever before. I am married and naturally introvert. But I felt I have never been this social before.

Of course, it started with work happy hours over Zoom, then I started organizing happy hours with my friends. Then proceeded to have happy hours with old friends around the world who I would have never thought about reconnecting. Of course, some of happy hours were just dinners, some were with wife's friends. Strangely, my wife who considers herself extrovert didn't really enjoy virtual gatherings and she been having very rough time. I wish I could help her but she just wants to meet people in person. And yes I spend a lot of time with her, watching Netflix etc. But pretty sure if I was single, I would have been able to do more Zoom/virtual gatherings.

Here are some of the way I socialize online:

1. Super large happy hours - perfect for introverts because some people will keep the conversation going and you can chillax.

2. Drink with just one or two people on Zoom - works with close friends only but you can have meaningful conversations.

3. Watch movie/show while on Zoom/phone. Works great if you and your friends like to make comments during movies.

4. Video games - online or single player. You don't have to play same game, fun to have a conversation while playing games. Use bluetooth headsets.

5. BBQ. I even done pool party last summer. Not everyone had access to pool but they could still join us.

6. Join random meetup on Zoom around the world and learn something new. Invite your friends to join you.

7. Zoom workout challenges, though not fun for me. We do push ups and squats.

And to get started, just sch. a fb event and invite a few friends. It is awkward initially but many people will thank you for organizing it, and then it gets easier.

I’m in the same boat OP, and I don’t have a good solution either.

At work, some of us in our team set up a meeting that spans 10am to 5pm every day - a few of us regularly call in, keep our cameras turned on and microphones on mute while we work. People hop in and out all the time, and everyone waves a hello whenever someone logs in. Being able to watch colleagues work helps a ton. Occasionally someone will unmute to talk about the cute/funny thing their cat is doing. This has softened the WFH impact a lot.

I’ve also developed a habit of enjoying long phone calls with friends and family. We watch netflix movies together sometimes (search for netflix party). It’s a poor substitute for in person interactions, but it’s something.

Otherwise I keep myself drugged up with audiobooks and anime.

I find that taking an hour long walk every morning to soak up some sunlight is incredibly effective at keeping my sanity intact.

Highly recommend getting a pet, specifically a cat.

I have done that for so many years now that half my vocabulary is miaow

Do you have weekly scheduled 1 on 1s? I have a few remote team members and make sure they pair up weekly just to feel connected and present. It's team member to team member, not like a traditional 1 on 1 with a lead. I know it's a very small measure, so I'm very interested in other comments here.

I bought a webcam and started to hangout on Omegle. Seems crazy right? It used to be a site where 70% of the people have their cock out on camera, but since the site added a “Nude” section, the main section is 90% people just wanting some casual talk. There is the occasional exhibitionist, but Omegle’s new AI auto-ban system is pretty good. You can also just skip them.

I’ve met cool people from around the world, including people who I’ve linked up with online and played online games with. I recommend it to everyone. On Saturday nights my girlfriend and I will get on cam and just talk to people and listen to music since we don’t want to risk going out.

Talking to people when taking walks help a bit. Also, having short video calls to just have a chat. It can feel a bit odd or uncomfortable at start, but it helps a bit.

It is a difficult time, indeed.

If you want to share your experience about it, you are very welcome to do so in this questionnaire (it is a part of a master thesis). Hopefully, there are at least some positive aspects or insights that this pandemic has resulted in.


What are the parameters of your lockdown? In my area the worst we experienced just involved a lot of businesses closing but no restrictions on movement, so we built a COVID bubble of 2 other families and spend as much time as possible with them. If that isn’t an option, are you able to go on walks outdoors? If so I’d take that opportunity to go on long walks with friends, masked and 6ft apart if necessary. Or maybe you can get to know your neighbors in some way?

I’m not saying this doesn’t suck, all my suggestions suck, but maybe they can be enough to keep you going, hopefully

Thanks for your response!

> parameters of lockdown

I'm in France: latest rules are basically a police-enforced curfew 6PM-6AM and a full-lockdown (police enforced) during the weekend.

I try to go out -during the day- when I can get some time off work. Eat a sandwich outside and get some air during launch break, but after this long, walking alone for an hour isn't helping much.

My friends basically scattered in different towns/countries where there are less restrictions. I try to keep in touch with the few that remain but it is not easy.

Are you able to temporarily move to another, more relaxed place in France? Maybe close to the coast where the weather is better?

I can afford to pay double rent for a while if necessary. But from the looks of it, the lockdown rules will be generalized in the upcoming weeks.

Couple tips: (1.) join discord groups based on your interests; I've found this to be super wonderful (you may have a discord group local to your city) (2.) get ever "small" interaction you can; nod to people on the street, talk to the barista, start with small interactions with anyone around you, in a gentle and polite way (3.) if exercise is allowed (not sure); exercise around other people (4.) 100% pets (5.) no joke VRChat is amazing, and is something

I’ve been trying to deal with this since long before the pandemic.

Closest I’ve gotten is getting temporary distraction from it via hobbies, but even that is volatile.

I tried side projects, even dabbled with some music. But with anxiety it is very hard to keep motivated.

My personal take is that hobbies complete an already fulfilled life and not the other way around.

Oh man i feel you 100% on that. Its so hard to focus on a project or working on my interests when my heart feels so empty. I only enjoy working on smaller projects when i am content with my life as a whole

> My personal take is that hobbies complete an already fulfilled life and not the other way around.

Exactly. You can fulfill a desire, but you can't fill a void.

Can you elaborate on the link between anxiety and motivation? I can relate.

I'm not sure I have the required vocabulary or expertise to elaborate.

However, from personal experience, anxiety can be a sinkhole of emotions and motivation. Its good to be aware of one's emotions but TBH I don't have solutions.

Play some games, get some hobbies.

Don't get too old before you get to truly enjoy something in life that isn't obvious like having a job and meeting people, because you will likely not have both when you get old. Your kids will be busy adults and you'll be retired.

I just started Clubhouse the other day, which is great. Join some groups in your city and start chatting with the neighbours!

Clubhouse is great. Just leave it on. I used to watch "study with me" YouTube and Twitch, but it's not the same.

I'm listening to podcasts, audiobooks, watching twitch streams or TV. It helps me a bit to feel less lonely while working from home. Also taking walks in the forrest and lifting weights help me to stay sane.

BTW: Is there some kind of online co-working space yet?

I’ve gotten far more into twitch during this time too. Just the chit chat of someone else has been nice

If you are still able to travel, I recommend moving to countries without restrictions.

E.g: Brazil https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcAYObnlehE

Unless you care about not getting infected.

Start playing an online competitive game or mmo and put the effort into joining a guild/clan and ‘getting into it’.

Don’t underestimate how good anonymous relationships are (and often less of a hassle).

Loneliness is an epidemic before covid and now exuberated and amplified.

what I find is men just plain suck at "opening" up to a stranger. Paranoid of looking like a idiot looking like desperate to meet someone. Men just suck at small talk. There is only two things men connect on at least here in the States: guns and their fav football team.

Precovid, I got desperate enough to answer a craigslist post. It was just weird I have to say. Nothing really to connect with outside of we were both lonely. I did a few meetups and found every time to be cringeworthy and regrettable.

I'm an implant from the midwest to CA and doing the typical tech co. to tech co. I never really established any long term relationship. they moved, I moved, they moved on in their lives, I was stagnant.

I wish men could just open up and stop thinking you have to be cool or interesting as if you're trying to find a soulmate but in the irony is you kinda are. Up to everything but intimacy of course.

Wish the concept of the original Friendster or FriendFinder didn't turn into what facebook is today. A cesspool of sex and attention starved individuals looking for shallow connection.

Reddit has become the big brother of craigslist but I'm finding most are adolescent sex and attention starved boys who graduated from 4chan. Even in the friends over 40 feels and sounds like 15yrs are present at every post and comment.

I wonder if time has come where one could create a social network for similar interest seeking individuals who wants a deeper connection where they are not looking to compete for attention and are simply looking for something meaningful without feeling creepy? HN is kinda like that but then I'll have to like read and comment on every post hoping like minded will hit me up....

I had an idea where one could goto a cafe and put up a colored one word sign that indicates the topic you're interested. So you're sipping on hot coffee with a sign "AI/ML/CV" and someone who feels connected to those topic and sees a personal connection will start talking. So the premise is I have a site where you sign up and state when/where/topic and you be there. Cafe gets traffic and possible connections made. Yes, men do have physical trait requirements too.

Ok I'm rambling.

truly sad....

I wonder if instead of Amazon saying "people bought this while looking at this item" but say... "Jim bought this yesterday, do you want to connect?" and of course you opt in but then bam..instant same interest at least a start of a conversation.

Sorry, it's late, and I'm aimlessly ranting. I have to say, my wife is my BFF but I'm driving her crazy where yesterday.. she just stood up and said, "I need time to my self" after I ranted about how stupid google home was in understanding basic contextual request it should have figured it out.

I am in Silicon Valley, worked for FAANG+M as eng/PgmMgr/Marketing. Early 40's Married, 2yr old, fulltime dad after quiting mid 2019 way before covid awareness. Now I'm torn between trying to create a passive side prj to pay living cost or make children videos that are truly entertaining but moreover...development enhancing. Ryan kid is making over $26M just opening toys for the last 5yrs.. jesus. then my 2yr can't get enough of a flat color truck ppt video that has garnished over 249M views in 2yrs which at best translates to $10k/1M views which makes it a $2.4M product. Tehy even f*ked up on color orange. $2.4M in 2yrs..WTF?

PS> truly sorry if I don't make sense or even readable. I have one kid and he is driving me to the ground. Scarificed sleep writing this diatribe. How the F** do mothers who have more than one child and a job do this??!?!

I enjoy my own company, literally. I love to listen to music, meditate, smoke a joint, go for a run, bike. I never get bored when I'm alone, but I often feel bored when around boring people.

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