We are inherently social beings. All of our life, we have been taught to put ourselves out there, get to know people and don’t be shy. Ignoring the person sitting across from you at a table would be considered rude. Not shaking hands when meeting someone new is completely unheard of. But now, all of our social norms are being upended and challenged. We are now being thrust into the world of “social distancing.”
Almost overnight, the term “social distancing” has been added to our vernacular. The idea is simple, stay away from people and limit your interactions. As counterintuitive as this is, the goal is to limit the spread of viruses like Covid-19 and Influenza. The good news is that generally works. By limiting the interactions of the general population, you can reduce the distribution of a virus significantly. But, it comes at a cost.
In addition to the economic impact that social distancing can cause by closing public venues and reducing the patronage of local restaurants, retail shops or bars, there’s also a psychological toll that is taken. We are not used to being cooped up inside of our homes for days on end. We get stir crazy if we don’t have the opportunity to get out and get a change of scenery. So, what are we supposed to do?
The good news is that social distancing doesn’t mean that you have to be confined in your home. That is of course, unless you are under a quarantine or isolation because you actually showed symptoms of an infection, or have been properly diagnosed as being infected. And even then, you may be able to at least step outside to get some sunlight, or take a brief walk. Just don’t interact with anyone.
But, if you are simply abiding by the good practice rules established by social distancing, the goal is to simply be smart. Limit your interactions with people. Avoid places with large numbers of people, especially if you don’t know who they are, where they’ve been or their current medical conditions. When it is necessary to interact, don’t shake hands. Bump elbows, instead. Wash your hands with soap before touching your face. Use hand sanitizers when that is not possible.
As awkward as this is, it’s doable. Who knows how long we will have to keep this up. But, if it is for an extended period of time, perhaps we will pick up better hygiene practices to add to our future social interactions.