Lansing Facebook group creates digital party for the quarantined and bored

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THURSDAY, March 26 — Bored? Perhaps a little bit lonely? Miss even the most mundane forms of human interaction? There’s a Facebook group filled with others just like you, and it’s called “Party Like it’s COVID-1999! Livestream Anything.”

The description of the group lays out its loose guidelines: “Times are very strange. Let’s party! Feel free to start a watch party or live stream. Getting drunk alone? WE WANNA WATCH. You play guitar? LETS SEE IT! Need to get a little stoned? LEMME SEE! Do whatever. No ones judging it’s the end of times!”

When artist Cameron Earley created “Party Like it’s COVID-1999” he wanted to create a haven for his friends to stay in touch during the statewide self-isolation. Kicking off with just a couple of hundred members, its membership snowballed to well over 10,000 and is showing no signs of slowing down. The group has even reached outside of Michigan, with new members frequently arriving from states such as California and Texas. The group receives nearly a thousand posts and comments daily.

“I was sitting around late at night, thinking about a play on words for a drawing, and I came up with the idea for a streaming group called ‘COVID-1999,’” Earley said. “It started off as a way for Lansing’s east side neighborhood to connect with each other and it kind of blew up from there.”

Posts on “Party Like it’s COVID-1999” range anywhere from coronavirus memes, people livestreaming themselves eating cereal; giving tarot card readings; playing instruments, or just posting selfies — some more risqué than others — and asking fellow members about their day-to-day lifestyle while in self-isolation. One member even livestreams himself performing fire swallowing stunts. It’s best described as a sloppy daily internet party that, in many ways, acts as a fascinating microcosm for the effects of quarantine-induced boredom.

“It must have been a chain reaction of people being into the idea. They add their friends, and then those friends add their other friends. We’ve got people from overseas in Scotland and Thailand,” Earley said. “Nobody had anything better to do, and I don’t think there are many other similar groups on Facebook.”

Earley wanted to create an avenue for people with unusual talents to share their work and creations. Not everybody has a guitar or keyboard they can livestream themselves noodling on. “Party Like it’s COVID-1999” gives an audience to people with other skills such as cooking, painting, gardening, reading, sewing and makeup. Even if you don’t have a special talent, you can just livestream yourself conversing with Facebook commenters.

“If you don’t play guitar; you don’t sing — that’s fine, just livestream yourself cooking or eating soup,” Earley said. “I think a lot of these people, including myself, have never livestreamed before. You sit around the house without your friends for long enough; you’re going to get bored. People saw that other people were doing it and it caught on. That’s just the way the internet is.”

You can check out “Party Like it’s COVID-1999! Livestream Anything” here.

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