As the father of a newborn, you wouldn’t imagine that Sean McCloud would have much of a social life but since the quarantine began he’s been attending about four virtual social events a week. McCloud belongs to the Black Bourbon Society (BBS) and has attended quite a few of their weekly virtual happy hours as well as others with family and friends.
“I participated in about three or four with BBS, they’re doing one happy hour a week right now. I’ve done, probably close to 20 since lockdown began. I also work in the spirits industry so we do them at my job for our company culture,” McCloud says.
According to a recent survey by lifestyle and gadget website, Improb.com, McCloud is not the only one seeing an uptick in his social life. The survey says that Pennsylvania is one of the nation’s (virtual) party hotspots and Pennsylvanians are averaging three to four digital parties per week. Improb.com’s Alex Coleman says Pennsylvania residents, like most people across the country, are looking for ways to connect, oftentimes on a deeper level.
“One positive thing to emerge from lockdown is the frequent communication we are able to maintain with our loved ones due to video calling technology, so we are able to take a break from reality to talk to our friends and family,” says Coleman at Improb.com. “In between group calls, it is also important to check in with your friends and see if they need someone to talk to during this time, especially if they are isolating on their own.”
McCloud says his family used a digital party format to celebrate the life of someone they lost and sees digital parties and virtual happy hours becoming more of an everyday thing.
“We celebrated my grandfather’s birthday recently. He passed earlier this year and his birthday was Cinco de Mayo. A virtual party was our way to kind of commemorate him with a tequila toast, which was a good way to remember and celebrate him. I find myself joining a couple of happy hours or parties a week, whether it be for work or for BBS or with my other friends, it’s definitely something that, at least for now has become a regularity,” says the liquor marketer and event planner.
McCloud says groups like the Black Bourbon Society have had to innovate to build and strengthen connections with its members.
“What we’re trying to figure out, what Samara Rivers, who started the Black Bourbon Society is trying to figure out, as well as myself, we’re trying to figure out how to engage with your consumers, your members in a different way. During this time, I think everybody’s starving for lack of a better word, for interaction, not only with people they know but also like-minded people,” says the Mount Airy native. “It’s a chance to be able to build and expand that community and still keep people together in some type of way. There are resources out there, Zoom, being one of them. Microsoft Teams, which is what we use at my job, is another. It’s definitely different but we’re in a situation where, right now, it’s better than nothing.”