Friends Got Together With Zoom Happy Hours

Couple crowds around an iPad for a Zoom Happy Hour with beers
Artwork by Anthony Faust
Couple crowds around an iPad for a Zoom Happy Hour with beers

In the beginning of 2020, things started deteriorating rapidly. By the end of January, China had locked down Wuhan, a city of 11 million people and the United States had issued a travel ban directed at people coming over from China. By the end of February, cases were popping up all over the country, and on February 29, the first fatality was reported in Kirkland, WA.

By March 11, the total deaths had jumped to 37. Schools and colleges were shutting down in-person classes or canceling the remainder of the semester, the NBA suspended their season, and cities, counties and states started issuing bans on large numbers of people gathering.

This was around the time employers started sending their employees home. The virus was the number one topic of discussion in the workplace. Every meeting began with, “Did you hear that (fill in the blank) is closing?” and the break room was full of speculation about what was coming next. During that week, many employees grabbed their laptops, maybe an external monitor, and headed out of the office for what would turn out to be a very long time.

After about two weeks of working, most people had settled into a home-based routine. Wake up, settle into their home office, remotely log in and get some productive time in, switch over to read favorite news outlet website, scroll social media for updates from friends and family, make some lunch, check some emails, join the governor’s daily livestream briefing talking about “flattening the curve”, send a couple more emails, and then crack a hard seltzer and log off for the day.

It was a weird time. It was a scary, constantly evolving situation, with many unknowns. People didn’t know the intricacies of how the disease spread and how people with preexisting conditions were more susceptible to succumbing from it.

There was also the uncertainty of life. Are the kids going to finish the school year? Should we cancel summer vacation plans?  Am I a full-time remote employee now? Would things return to “normal” ever again? One element of daily life that was missing was social interaction. Most people stayed home and stopped seeing friends and family in person. They interacted through remote video chats with coworkers during the workday, but once they logged out for the day, remaining at home made people feel isolated and lonely. Enter one of the silliest and most fun parts of the pandemic: the Zoom Happy Hour!

Invitations went out:

“Friday night - 7:00 pm - ? Let’s tip one or two (or three) back and vent together about how much Covid sucks!

Click here to join.”

And people DID join, in very large numbers*. Adults huddled together in front of their laptop or iPads sipping their favorite adult beverages, while squinting at a dozen small rectangles filled with the faces of friends and family staring back at them.

They discussed the craziness of the day’s news, personal anecdotes from being out and about in the pandemic, and hopefully just made each other laugh and smile and forget about their uneasiness.

These calls sometimes went all night. Depending on the circle of friends, people would jump in and out of the call from different time zones throughout the call. It was fun to see old friends pop into the call and give an update from a different state.

At the end of the day, beating the boredom and breaking the monotony of being isolated at home was the main motivator for these virtual get togethers. Plenty of laughs were had and stress relieved and a little bit of normalcy was returned.

By the way, the whole activity was “Zoom Happy Hour” and wasn’t “Microsoft Teams Happy Hour” or “Google Hangouts Happy Hour”. During this period, “Zoom” was both both a proper company name and it was so popular that it replaced the generic term “video chat”, the same way people call any facial tissue “Kleenex” even if it’s not that brand. The popularity of Zoom software soared, as did the value of the company. The stock price for Zoom rose over 700% from the beginning of 2020 to its peak in October. That was just one of the thousands of topics that were discussed on the happy hour calls.

"This book will make you laugh and feel ALL the feelings."

Five star rating

"One of the most delightful reads of this year! I highly recommend."

Five star rating

"A great coffee table book. Easy to pick up read."

Five star rating

"Great coffee table conversation starter."

Five star rating

"Funny and fun to read. What a fun way to put the pandemic in perspective."

Five star rating

Picture of author Anthony Faust

About the Author

My life as a husband and father transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sent home from work in March 2020, I've yet to return to the office. Adapting to the new pandemic world proved challenging for us all.

However, we managed to find silver linings. Drive-by birthdays brought joy to my kids' friends. I'll never forget stumbling upon a heartfelt hand-painted rock during my jog, reminding us that we're all in this together. Regular Zoom happy hours with close friends created cherished memories.

While quality time with my family was a blessing, we also faced hurdles. Assisting my youngest daughter with frustrating math homework on a poorly designed iPad app tested our patience. Both girls struggled with wearing masks during sports and school.

Sadly, witnessing COVID-19 being politicized and witnessing the closure of small businesses while the wealthy thrived was disheartening.

I wrote this book to document our experiences, learning from them and striving for better decisions in the future. Join me on this rewarding journey of resilience and growth.

Tony signature