Why You Should Stop Using the Phrase ‘Social Distancing'

Why You Should Stop Using the Phrase ‘Social Distancing'


In the age of social media new words, phrases, and memes can take off in a matter of minutes. Suddenly we are all experts on the best type of face masks (N95 anyone) and are using words like self-isolation and social distancing to describe our efforts to stop the spread of a virus we didn’t even know existed a few months ago.

But I think the words “social distancing” are steering us in the wrong direction. We’re not really trying to create social distance from each other? Not exactly. No one is asking us to stop calling, texting, or Zooming our friends and relatives. We don’t have to stop sending cards, letters, or even masks and tp through the mail, and we can still interact with the people we live with. We just need to stop sharing the viruses we carry, including the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

I am just finishing up a 14-day self-isolation period, along with the other faculty and the 60 some students that were part of our Study Abroad program in Italy. Instead of spending Spring Break in Europe we are exchanging pictures, jokes, online toasts and movie recommendations. When this is all over, we plan to have a potluck dinner so we can try the Italian recipes we have been collecting. This isn’t the way we wanted our trip to end, but friendships forged during stressful times can be particularly close and long-lasting.

So let’s start calling this Physical Distancing, not Social Distancing. Touch isn’t the only way we can connect with each other.

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