These Anonymous “Co-Quarantining” Stories Have Raised Thousands of Dollars For Charity
The Social Distance Project grew out of anonymous stories about the realities of quarantining with partners, family members, and roommates.
A writer who crowd-sourced people’s coronavirus co-quarantine stories said she has raised thousands of dollars for people affected by the pandemic.
Meg Zukin, who also works as a social media editor for Variety, tweeted on March 12 asking people to email her stories about living and self-quarantining with their significant others. Zukin amassed so many stories that she began curating them on a website and Instagram called The Social Distance Project, which also includes stories about family members and roommates. The website encourages visitors to contribute and has since raised thousands of dollars for regional and national charities and nonprofits.
if u live with a significant other and think all the co-quarantining will cause u to break up, email me at megzukin at gmail dot com. i’m not writing a story im just messy and love drama— meg zukin (@bymeg) March 13, 2020
The day after sending her initial tweet out, Zukin received multiple submissions from people with subject lines ranging from, “My husband moved out over virus,” to “If I get quarantined with my mother in law, I’ll die…”
Some of the submissions are hilarious, while others are shocking—including one from a woman who found out through the videochat program Zoom that the man she was seeing had a girlfriend. Zukin said a lot of the submissions were from moms who were suddenly stuck at home with their kids as schools have been temporarily closed.
Zukin got permission from senders to compile the submissions into a Google Doc and then charged people $1 to view the stories, saying she’d donate proceeds to people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.The shared doc eventually grew into the website, where people can donate, read submissions, and anonymously submit their own stories.
“My tweet was just a bored thought I had,” Zukin said to NowThis, about starting this project. “It wasn't until I started receiving submissions via email that I realized there was something I could do with the stories.”
Zukin said she’s lost count on how many submissions she gets a day.
“We've definitely received a surge of submissions over the past few days,” she said on March 20. “We're getting them on the website but I've also been getting messages via my personal email/Twitter/Instagram.”
While some submissions are light-hearted, others depict serious challenges. One person wrote in to describe living with a boyfriend’s family after moving across the country with him, distanced from a parent who lives with an autoimmune disease.
“We are not getting along,” the submission read. “Every day I'm berated, and belittled by this man child. I have no friends here, nor is it an option to go back home as it is pure chaos there. The 3 job offers, and opportunities for freedom have been obviously postponed.”
When asked if she could choose one that she loves the most, Zukin said she couldn’t pick just one.
“I love submissions that are raw and real— the post about the limes, the post about the stress farts,” Zukin told NowThis. “My heart goes out to the people who have submitted more serious stories, and are experiencing catastrophic issues, but as Lady Gaga says, you have to laugh and the stories that bring me the most joy are often the most ridiculous. Such as this one.”
Zukin said The Social Distance Project has raised more than $6,500 for charities including Food Bank for New York City, Food Lifeline (Seattle), and LA Regional Food Bank. According to the website, Zukin chose the charities based on research and others’ suggestions on what foundations need the most help, as coronavirus cases increase in the U.S. She told NowThis that her goal is to raise at least $10,000.
Zukin said that senders have told her that sharing their co-quarantining stories and changing household dynamics has helped them cope. She even added that putting her time into this project has helped her as well.
“Launching a full fledged project and website is an amazing way to repress everything else I've been feeling,” she said.