The Smartest $15 I Spent This Year Helped Me Feel Less Lonely While I Lived Alone

updated Jun 7, 2021
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One of the biggest lessons this year has taught me is that I am never allowed to call myself an introvert again. When I began working from home in March, I clung to phone calls and Zooms to feel connected to my coworkers and friends, and would often jump at the opportunity to see friends in the park—literally, any park—for a safer alternative to our traditional nights out. So when my roommate, who had also switched to a WFH schedule, traveled back to her hometown for four months in the middle of summer, I suddenly found myself extremely alone… and talking to my cats more often than I would like to admit.

To combat the sudden, ominous silence that now seemed to permeate every inch of my apartment, I began playing music whenever I could. There was one place I couldn’t seem to get the music volume loud enough, however: The shower. Rather than be left alone with my own thoughts, I sourced a simple, waterproof Bluetooth speaker from Amazon for under $20. That purchase quickly multiplied, and I now have a different Bluetooth speaker in almost every room of my home. I can say with authority that each one was the best $15 I’ve spent all year.

The SoundBot speaker isn’t particularly high-tech, and while I’m sure that fancier speakers would result in an overall better sound quality, I am far from the kind of person who has any kind of opinion regarding whether an album sounds better on vinyl. (Please, just let me listen to the Broadway cast recording of “Moulin Rouge” the musical in peace.) I just wanted to fill my apartment with music, which one study from June showed, is proven to help listeners feel less lonely. Specifically, “private musical engagement in general can provide mood-repair and a sense of connection,” the authors noted.

Enter the SoundBot, whose detachable suction cup affixes to my shower ledge for no-slip listening. It took some time to learn how to properly use the SoundBot’s buttons—you hold the “skip forward” or “skip backward” keys to adjust the volume, and have to hold the power button down for a considerable amount of time to turn the speaker off—but its benefits outweigh those downsides. Its rechargeable battery works for up to six hours, which translates to at least 24 15-minute showers, and it quickly connects to my phone when I turn it on.

Not every room needs a waterproof speaker, however. I outfitted a lamp in my bedroom with a $13.97 light bulb speaker, and I found a retro-looking speaker to display in my living —it’s decor as much as it is an electronic. In total, I spent less than $50 to place an assortment of intuitive, rechargeable speakers throughout my home.

Playing music is ultimately no substitute for real human interaction—and meeting with my therapist over Zoom absolutely counts. My roommate has also since come back to our apartment, but the tradition of playing music all day long has remained. Now, we take turns playing Bluetooth DJ, and set a vibe for work, life, and everything in between. The walls of our apartment have very quickly become our world—it’s only right that it sounds like it, too.