If you had asked me three months ago what social distancing was, I would have answered, when people spend more time communicating through technology than face to face. I would have added, when people use their devices while being with someone.
But social distancing today, in March 2020, in Australia, in the time of COVID-19, means staying physically separate from each other. It means not touching, not shaking hands, not hugging – acts normally that are normal in our society. It means going for a walk with a friend but staying one and a half metres away from them. It means waiting for takeaway in a space of four square metres and veering away from someone who passes us on the footpath. Abnormal behaviour.
I’ve noticed that this lack of closeness, so foreign it needs to be thought about, has turned to wariness. People aren’t smiling or even being polite when they pass each other; a sad side effect.
‘Non-essential services,’ a term meaning services that we can live without, have closed in order to reduce social contact further. People have lost jobs, livelihoods, security. Some people have lost the only social interaction they had in a day.
Social distancing today, the result of an attempt to curb a rampant flu virus, has major repercussions. Negative ones.
I worry that social distancing, in place to curb physical sickness and escalation of cases, will have a terrible effect on the mental state of many people.
Ironically, this is where technology will help. Instead of being the problem, we can now use it to solve the problem. If we have a working device, Wi-Fi, data, and the skill to use them, we can use them to talk, see, meet, watch, laugh, and devise ways to stay socially connected and to work. If we can’t interact face to face, flesh to flesh, then virtual interaction is the next best thing.
People are rallying. Alarmed and self-interested to begin with, people are now looking to work from home, to communicate, entertain, express, support and be supported. Life has slowed down, and in a positive direction, imagination has soared.
Gurus are talking to us about quarantine and meditation, Yoga instructors are running live sessions, artists are teaching kids how to draw, all using technology and the internet, all Posting on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube or other media. There is an abundance of choice in the ways we can connect.
Musicians, actors and comedians are turning old songs and skits into Covid-19 humour. Mothers at home, men with pets and small precocious children are becoming famous in a day, their clever creations turned into film and uploaded to the world who is lapping up the creativity and distraction. We are sharing these films, songs, pictures, motivationals and lessons, with each other.
This is our new social interaction; this is social-distancing – distanced but immediate, our new closeness.
‘Personal space,’ may be a whole lot bigger today than it used to be but through the vastness of cyber space, we don’t need to be distanced! Use it well. And smile! We will cope with the new norm and social distancing will pass.
Note: Having no internet or means to use it, is a problem in today’s world. Please be mindful that some people do not have access to this resource and do what you can to be thoughtful and kind within the safety guidelines. We need to care for those most affected by social distancing.
Social Distancing Information:
Words of Wisdom:
Shri Jasnath Asan (Yoga Science) – A quiet daily talk from Guruji at the ashram I was at in India, earlier this year.
Eckhardt Tolle – author of Power of Now
Russel Brand – Self Isolation and Mental Health
Good for a Laugh:
Facebook, Instagram, Youtube: countless funny videos being shared on WhatsApp and Messenger
Chris Mann – American singer and songwriter – hilarious take off of My Sharona by the Knack called My Corona
Ayurveda and Nutrition Course at Prana by Dimple Jangda
Online Yoga with Lilya Sabatier in India
Ekhardt Tolle – Spiritual Teacher
Header Photo credit:
Social distancing includes simple, everyday actions that can contain the spread of COVID-19