I’ve been struggling all morning to come up with a clear idea about social distancing in the context of the Coronavirus crisis and how this “social distancing” is being used as the ultimate salvation of life as we know it. Well, what’s the deal with social distancing in the context of a virus pandemic and outside of it?
I had never heard about this idea of social distancing before the global coronavirus pandemic was announced. I mean, is this a new thing or just an old method to stop spreading a virus?
From what I read, social distancing is not necessarily self-isolation, but more like being more aware of those around us and taking the necessary precaution measures to not spread a potential airborne virus. Seems legit. But it does feel like an unnatural thing to do when I take a step back and take a look at the whole world. How are we going to distance ourselves from everyone else?
In my mind, I try to imagine a world in which we all would keep a distance of 5 meters from each other at all times. I am pretty sure that some of us would need to move. But let’s cut the daydreaming because we all know that’s physically impossible, at least sometimes.
The way I see it, this social distancing has arguments for both camps.
The good part of social distancing
One argument supporting the idea of social distancing is that social distancing forces us to explore new ways to continue our activities and be as connected as we were before or even more.
Who know what we discover once we cut the crap out of our lives? We might even discover what brings value to our lives.
The bad part of social distancing
Humans need to be social. That’s who they are, and that’s what our world is built upon. People are meant to be social and to stay together in groups. We all have families, friends, and we are part of many different groups, and we have a deep need to feel connected and part of a group.
Gatherings are part of our traditions and isolation has always been seen as a punishment. Just think of the worse prison movies you’ve seen, and for sure some contained the idea that the bad behaving prisoners are doomed to spend their days in isolation.
Which makes me ask: Is social distancing a solution or a punishment?
Some conspiration theorists may suggest that this is just a step towards global domination or some similar idea. Still, the truth is that social distancing is breaking some of our fundamental human rights. Thank God for the internet!
But social distancing may be a good thing to practice from time to time
Leaving all the above arguments behind, and ignoring the coronavirus crisis, I can still see a good part in social distancing.
I believe people also need time for themselves. I need it. And I am sure others do too. Some of us are extremely social, while others prefer to keep their distance most of the times (like my boyfriend, who prefers to read than hang out with my friends), and that’s ok! It’s important to know what does our soul good and what we need to feel good.
And I believe that a lot of the people I see on the street need a break from all the fuss of the crowded city life and to take a moment to observe the world, without interacting with it. I used to call it depression, but this form of isolation is actually a reflection time, that we all need to have. Let’s call it downtime. A time for our brains to reset, to rest and to recover. A time without all the stimuli and all the distractions.
I am talking from my own experience because some years ago I felt a bit lost and confused. I was constantly drawing in other people’s opinions, and each time I was hearing something I couldn’t agree upon, I was just changing the people around me. It was like I was afraid of my own thoughts and couldn’t bear the idea of being alone. And, as I was surrounded by all kinds of people, my moods and perceptions over life were continually changing, leaving me with a feeling of anxiety. Trust me, that was not the right place to be in.
But it all changed the moment I was forced to slow down, to sit and reflect on everything that was happening to me. I wasn’t being captive or anything. I was just volunteering in a foreign country, where I had no friends, and most of my free time was spent alone. A terrifying thought for my old me, but that was possibly the best time of my life. It was a time of realizations and the time I built self-confidence. It’s not about isolating ourselves for life. It’s about the epiphany of the control we have over our lives and our feelings. And that was the moment I finally felt free. I set myself free, and my life has constantly been improving since then. (And my writing).
Social distancing is not pleasant, but I see it as a necessary part of life, when no matter where we are (physically), we engage less with the outside world and use that energy to revive ourselves. To search for new perspectives and to keep our soul sane. And this comes from an extrovert, or at least, that’s what my friends say.
If you read till here, then take this as a sign to distant yourself socially, to unwind from all those daily routines and thoughts, and to explore new perspectives. I try to remind myself of this each time something is bothering me. I distance myself from the issue and then decide if it’s actually worth my time and how can I act to feel better. That’s it! That’s the secret of happiness right there, and it includes some distancing.
I hope this will help you get a new perspective on the current trending advice of social distancing. And I hope you will use this method in other situations you might be in. We are the ones responsible for making the best with what we have!