It’s been days of self-isolation. You’re sick of your spouse and/or roommates and/or kids. You’ve learned, hopefully, that likes and retweets and comments on social media don’t actually constitute human interaction. (Can you tell I say that to myself in the mirror every morning?) But that doesn’t mean the internet can’t help you connect with others! We’ve got a few tips for retaining your sanity during this pandemic, though maybe by only a thread.

Start calling them “films”

There’s a good chance you’ve blazed through all the streamable trash on Netflix, and if so, you need some higher-brow cinema. Facets, the nonprofit theater for independent and foreign cinema — truly, a snob’s paradise — is closed, but its by mail DVD-rental service ($10 a month to rent up to three discs at a time) is alive and well. You might as well become the kind of person you hate, as you won’t be seeing any of your friends soon, anyway.

[Prayer emoji] 

If you’re religious — or just suddenly finding yourself praying a whole lot more — you can livestream the Lord on your laptop. The Archdiocese of Chicago is broadcasting Mass (performed in person for an audience of one camera operator) on its YouTube channel in Spanish, English, and Polish, and several local temples are streaming Shabbat services (check for an updated list). The Moody Church does Sunday streams on its YouTube page, and you can check out the Progressive Baptist Church’s weekly services at

Class it up

Working from home means two bonus hours per day to pick up that hobby you’ve been saying you’ll get into “when things get less crazy at work.” The yarn shop Nina Chicago is hosting virtual knit-alongs via Zoom. The shop will ship the pattern and yarn to your doorstep (kits from $25, plus $5 shipping for orders under $75). The Second City offers online writing courses in sketch, screenplay, and standup, starting at $25 for a drop-in to $235 for a four-week class. (We cannot, in good conscience, endorse taking an improv class via FaceTime, though.) Berges Institute has knocked a Benjamin off its 10-week intro to Spanish course — now it’ll cost just $199 to learn to say, “¿Te desinfectante para manos?”

Get (virtually) wild

Brookfield Zoo has launched a video series called Bringing the Zoo to You, where zookeepers introduce viewers to a different animal each weekday. The irony of ogling zoo critters when we, too, are trapped in tiny boxes for weeks on end? Deafening. But if you want to learn anything about lemurs, you’re just going to have to power through the paradox.

Chef de onscreen

Cook a meal with a friend over FaceTime. Palita Sriratana of the Pink Salt pop-up dining series is filling her Instagram highlights with recipes, and Terra & Vine’s Alpana Singh is recommending wine pairings to accompany various dishes in hers. Follow along with your bud and laugh about how you definitely burned those shallots you got in your CSA delivery. Dorky? Sure. But desperate times call for dorky measures.