#NativeNerd: Productive things you can do to beat at-home quarantine boredom

Vincent Schilling

Bingeing an online series can only last so long; here are some things to help alleviate boredom, but also give something back

Greetings #NativeNerd family, I hope you are staying safe and well in the midst of at-home orders, self-quarantines and work-related “go the heck home” directives. At this point, many of you are likely wondering what to do after you have watched everything on your “watch this later” lists and sorted your sock drawers for the third time.

Considering you are in the house, and perhaps wondering, “What else is out there?” this Native nerd is offering some suggestions that might help you delve into other worlds of productivity you might not have considered.

Here is a list of productive or semi-productive things you can do to beat quarantine boredom.

Start a podcast using just your phone and a laptop

Native Podcasts are best way to connect to the Native voices in Indian country. Photo: Vincent Schilling
Native Podcasts are best way to connect to the Native voices in Indian country.

Right now there are a ton of ways to start your own podcast online using just your phone and a laptop. One great example is BlogTalkRadio. (I have hosted the Native Trailblazers radio show for 10 years and recently hit 500 episodes, with a great following my wife, Delores, and I have generated over the years.)

On this platform, you only need to register, add a name to your podcast, upload a couple of images and schedule a show. You get a call-in number for yourself as well as a number for your guest(s) to call and from the studio, you can add sound clips, add callers during the recording and more.

Truth be told, it does take a bit of consistency to create a good following, but you can have a nice place to host topics you care about. The live shows are then always available in archives after airing and can be programmed to post immediately to your social media pages.

There are many other platforms that use recording equipment. It’s all at your Google search fingertips.

So get out there - why not you?

Create your own YouTube channel and/or start adding videos to the one you already have

Perhaps this is something you’ve always wanted to do, or maybe your channel, that you made a few years ago, is still sitting fairly empty. Well, what are you waiting for? Get creative and start putting some fun stuff out there!

If you are looking to be a successful YouTuber, there are a ton of videos on how to be successful. I have researched many of them as well, and the most important aspects of YouTube success are consistency and regularity, inspiration and talking about what you know, and connecting with a target audience.

Don’t fall into the “overproduction” trap. It is more about the message. Strive for your absolute best, and improve as you continue to grow your brand.

Call an elder or friend who might be alone

Now more than ever, our elders and others who often are more disconnected can see even more isolation in this tough time. Hearing your voice can help them feel connected to their community. So that said, hit pause on “Tiger King” and pick up the phone.

Another option is to call your local senior services center. Google the center in your area as many of these places have a list of seniors who would welcome a friendly voice. These centers often seek volunteers who can make calls for welfare checks or can call an elder who is alone and simply needs that friendly voice to let them know people care for them.

Help an elder or non-technology-fluent friend learn more about connecting with the online world

I recently spoke at length with a friend who had problems with her computer after what she thought was a “severe email hack” in which someone accessed her contacts and sent out a spam email.

Such things can be annoying for sure, but can usually easily be remedied by logging out of your email account on all of your devices, disabling all social media account permissions, creating a new password for your email account and logging back in.

My friend didn’t know what to do and ended up paying a computer professional a few hundred bucks to assess the situation and create a new email. I could have helped her had I known, and saved her time, grief and money.

So reach out to elders and friends and ask if they need help. Computers and other technologies can be extremely intimidating to elders.

There is a fantastic free program called Team Viewer, in which you and another person can both install the program, and when they give you their access code, you can access their computer, virtually control it, and show them how to do things.

When I do this with my 71-year-old father, he thinks I am a technological rock star.

Host an online activity group

The online meeting platform Zoom has had an explosion of growth over the past few months with the onset of COVID-19 and the related social distancing efforts worldwide.

It is not as difficult to do this as some of you out there might assume. You can create a free account and invite a friend or two to test things out. You can use your home computer or smartphone to connect with video chats and record the meeting to post to any video platforms out there such as Vimeo, Facebook or YouTube.

People are really making use of Zoom, just as we are here at Indian Country Today with our daily broadcasts.

Dive in, and have fun. Explore the software to make use of fun virtual backgrounds (which can be a photo or even video) and impress the world with your friends along for the ride.

Some examples I have heard about include online beading groups, virtual powwows and more.

Hold a Netflix Party and watch an online movie together with your friends

Netflix Party is admittedly a lot of fun.

Perhaps watching a movie might not come across as sounding like a productive task, but I interject that the productive element here is that you are stepping outside of the isolation box, and connecting with friends, family and others online.

Last week, I hosted a public movie viewing as the Native Nerd and had a blast. After sending out the message last Friday, I hosted and watched a recently top-trending Netflix movie titled “Badland,” which co-starred Wes Studi.

It was a lot of fun chatting along during the film. I intend to host more Netflix parties in the future.

See my recent post on how to install the Google extension and create your own fun. Send me a message on Twitter - what movie would you like to watch?

(See related: Join the #NativeNerd Netflix Party for ‘Badland’ at 8 pm EDT - How to host your own)

Write a letter (not an email) to your friends, family or others

Wish you were here

When was the last time you received an actual letter?

I can remember only two I have received in the past several months. And because they stand out so much from the dizzying flurry of emails, social media posts and more, think about how special it would be on the receiving end of a nice letter that describes things going on for you in a heartfelt way.

This effort helps two people: the writer, and the recipient. There is something a bit more therapeutic in getting out a pen, paper (or greeting card) and writing out thoughts to a person you care about.

It shows that the person you are writing to has been given a bit more special, dedicated time. It is also nostalgic for an elder, who might have shied away from technological advances, and instead of moving along with the population, saw only a drop in personal connections.

So, send a letter and include a few pictures you printed out, enclose a flower you pressed between the pages of a book, or add some stickers for your nephews and nieces.

It’s always nice to reach out.

Isolation deep clean: Get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy

Perhaps you heard of the KonMari decluttering method? She is an author who has offered the beautiful concept of “Only keep it if it brings you joy.”

I personally need to apply this to my life right now as I look at my home and work area and see there is a lot of stuff here. A lot of it I don’t use, and a lot of it is cumbersome, intrusive and admittedly taking up space in my home and as a result, taking up space in my psyche.

You can go slow, in the process. Admittedly I am not an expert in this process by any claim, but I see something truly sensical in that I can get a big box or big bag and go through my things one at a time and ask the question, “Does this bring me joy?” If not, I can put it into the bag or box and donate it to a local thrift shop or other charity or school that takes clothes, books or other items.

It sounds like freedom to me.

Play an online computer game with your family or friends

Native Nerd gamer

Perhaps you’ve never considered doing such a thing. But my nephew and I recently started playing Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. If you have a decent computer and a decent online connection, you can install online computer games through platforms such as Steam, Ubisoft and Bethesda.

At first glance at some of these platforms, just know ahead of time that there are a kabillion games, and some of them are expensive. I strongly suggest that you do a bit of research before purchasing anything. Talk to your friends and admit that you don’t know what you are doing. The online gaming community does have a lot of people who are willing to be helpful.

Again, you might think, “How is playing a computer game productive?” My answer is that my nephew and I have some hilarious interactions because he is really great at some things, and I am great at some things.

In online gaming, you not only play what’s called a “co-op” or “multiplayer” game together, but with the use of a headset or webcam with a microphone, you also talk to each other when playing the game.

Because you are talking and both taking part in an objective and/or task, it feels like you aren’t far apart.

The interactions of an online game are different than anywhere else. Perhaps you are warriors trying to rescue a village from a dragon, or both working together to save a spaceship, or in the case of The Division, working together as a combat team to bring back Washington, D.C., and New York from the clutches of rogue agents who want to see the cities fall into chaos.

Because you are working together, it can be tremendous fun. And the way you play is different than your teammate. But that is where the fun lies. Like life, perhaps you are just getting started and have no clue what you are doing, and your nephew is level 100. Just like life, you are the clueless new recruit, and your nephew is the seasoned veteran.

So play the game that way, and enjoy the fact that you have no idea what you are doing, and let the seasoned veteran lead the way. Do all of this while keeping in mind, you are able to spend time with someone you care about.

In the case with my nephew Parker and I, because we have different approaches to a game, we might tease each other in a lighthearted way or just laugh if one of the other players walks into some kind of cartoon explosion or something.

We usually hang out in person quite a bit and haven’t been able to lately. So this is a great chance for us to continue that connection. I know I love spending time with my nephew this way.

He’s creating a YouTube channel with his gaming videos and will be including several of our exploits.

Have any other ideas? Let me know on Twitter, Instagram or email.

Native Nerd Phone

#NativeNerd Vincent Schilling is the associate editor for Indian Country Today and a film industry certified movie reviewer.

Have a film, product or another review request? Email vschilling@indiancountrytoday.com or reach out via Twitter @VinceSchilling and Instagram @VinceSchilling.

Indian Country Today #NativeNerd Twitter @ICTNativeNerd

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

As myself, I started to self-improve a lot last time on quarantine. Because of quarantine, I can easily spend more time on reading, and that's great. If you interested, I can recommend one good site that helped me https://raisetwice.com. It helped me to start doing
sport's, read more, and gave me priceless expirience. At least right now I know how, and when I can start travelling after lockdown. I think you should check tips about travelling for sure, and also try checking articles about books.
It pushed me to start reading more and learn other languages. So I think it's good idea for you, if you want to motivate yourself =)