Nobody Meant Social Distancing

The WHO has changed “social distancing” to “physical distancing” and know-it-alls all over social media are patting their backs. Yes, it was a clumsy choice of words to begin with, but honestly, did you think that “social distancing” was about not talking to anyone? Not texting, twittering, facebooking, whatsapping, communicating?

No, of course not, that would be stupid.

Taking cheap shots like that, pointing out that we now more than ever need to stay socially close but physically apart (“duh” noises spring to mind), are just that: cheap shots.

So why take them? What’s the agenda? Be it self-importance or lack of understanding, it’ll get even more shitty now, because these people will think they’re right, and are thus applauded.

Nobody meant social distancing in terms of not being social. It was clearly – obviously – a description of physical social activities, and keeping a distance when attending such events. Is there a better description? Yes. Does that mean that the previous one was flawed? No. Was that particular description actually flawed? Only when pulled out of context, or when someone wanted to make an unnecessary point.

Take a moment, breathe.

Do that before trusting every gut reaction, every WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY SAYING THEY’RE NUTS I’M GOING TO TELL IT LIKE IT IS, or whatever, and then ask yourself: What did they say, how did I understand it, and was that what they meant?

The WHO says that we should rely on social media to keep connected to the outside world, in terms of social exchanges, in our suddenly secluded lives. That’s all well and good, but I’d like to add that you don’t have to do that. You don’t have to give your words and inner-most thoughts and fears to Facebook or Twitter, you could just as well call someone and tell them about it. Send someone a text message, don’t share to the advertising machine. You don’t have to do that to stay relevant, nor to keep in touch.

Social media isn’t the cure to our current situation, nor to the loneliness that you might feel. Human interactions are, and you don’t need Facebook for that. There are plenty off less data-leeching alternatives out there. So pick up your phone to make a call for once, or send a text, iMessage a photo, write an email, or use secure and ad-less services like Signal or Telegram to keep in touch.

Take this opportunity to get close and personal at a distance, when you – for once – actually need it. It’s better than relying on the presumed sense of connection through a non-committal relationship on social media, where a “like” can mean less than nothing.

Social distancing isn’t the approval of current social medias, and it shouldn’t become their salvation from past scandals. Relying on platforms to solve your social needs in times of physical distance will, assuming you don’t have a working communication methods in place already, make you lonely and distressed.

Pick a person to talk to. Don’t let the algorithm do it for you, or pretend that you have someone listening for that matter. That’s all I’m saying.

Photo by Noah Silliman.