55 Percent of Americans are joining virtual "happy hours"

Americans’ daily lives have changed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions have shifted their work and social habits to maintain social distancing measures to keep themselves, and others, safe. One of the biggest cultural shifts in recent weeks, is the reliance on technology (more than ever before) to stay connected, socially.

Four Loko, recently surveyed 2,000 people from across the country to better understand the relatively new phenomena of virtual happy hours. Why do they do them? Who are they socializing with? And does this new, virtual, way of interacting change their behaviors?

The survey found that more than half (55 percent) said they’ve taken part in a virtual happy hour. When asked who those digital hangouts are with, slightly more than half (54 percent) said they are socializing more with friends, while 34 percent say they are socializing more with coworkers than they had previously.

But there is only so much staring at a screen someone can handle. The average virtual happy hour among friends falls just shy of an hour, while people tend to spend just over a half hour on happy hours with their colleagues. One common complaint with video conferences and digital hangouts alike, is the difficulty navigating too many people at once. The majority of people think there should be less than 10 people on any video call, with people pegging the ideal number of participants at six.

So, where are Americans’ hosting these virtual hang outs? Zoom is the most commonly used platform to socialize on, with just over half (51 percent) of people citing it as their favorite application. Followingly close behind are Apple’s FaceTime, with 38 percent of people favoring the iPhone and iPad friendly application to chat with friends and colleagues, and Skype, with just under one-third of people naming it as their favorite. Speaking of Zoom, have you heard of “ZoomBombing?” It’s a method of online trolling in which the so-called ZoomBomber hijacks the Zoom to interrupt an online meeting with often shocking or disturbing video and sounds. We wanted to learn more about the phenomena and how far reaching it has become. According to the study, 13 percent of people say they’ve been involved in a meeting that was ZoomBombed.

Americans are glued to their devices for work and personal connections throughout the workday and even after, with many saying they’re leaning on their coworkers to satiate their social needs. However, not all industries are as prone to digital social situations. Four Loko found some industries are hosting and participating in more virtual happy hours than others. More than 70-percent of people working in finance, engineering and insurance companies say they’ve attended their company’s virtual happy hour. While those working in customer-facing businesses were less likely. Fewer than 43 percent of people working in transportation, skilled labor and construction, retail and science say they have attended a digital hangout with their colleagues.

With many people’s daily routines, and personal groom habits, amended in this era of social distancing, Four Loko wanted to find out whether they change their behaviors if and when a video chat or virtual party pops up on their calendar. According to the survey, the answer is “no.” Four Loko found that 78 percent of people say they don’t dress differently for virtual parties, and remain in whatever they’ve been wearing around their house. Even with an abundance of features and filters, most people (83 percent) say they resist the urge to touch up their physical appearance.

But most people seem to find it difficult to resist all vanity on video calls. Just over half (52 percent) say they look at their own picture or image on screen more than they’d like to, when they participate in video parties and chats. When it comes to what their colleagues see, some 42 percent of people are self-conscious about coworkers seeing their home. For that reason, one third of people say they don’t even turn on their cameras during their video chats, and one-fifth turn to a custom background to hide their real, at-home backdrop.

Eventually, the American workforce will ease into their offices. However, it looks like virtual happy hours are here to say. Just under half, some 39 percent of people, say they plan to continue the virtual traditions after Coronavirus rules of social distancing end.

Survey: How Americans Socialize During Quarantine

Read next: Spending Too Much Time On Social Media Is Worsening The Mental Health Of Users During The COVID-19 Pandemic
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