Social distancing is not the same as social absence

Dear reader,

I received an article today on longitudinal empirical evidence of COVID-19 spread in numbers and figures. The article took 26 mins to read, but I’m a slow reader and need time to process and analyse the meta level of author’s context, undertone and aim of the whole narrative, so I read it in about an hour.

Most of the world as of today is going into quarantine, self-isolation or compulsory prohibition or free movement. In other words, for many people that feels like a prison. As someone who used to work in a prison, allow me to make this comparison, as black and white as it may appear. This post is in no way trying to diminish or minimise the article’s point and I think it is very useful that we are aware and acquainted with the facts that are surrounding us. But I advocate that facts need to come with a bit of balance of interpreting as well as a balance of the effects we are wanting to spread among people when trying to do the best thing – help them. So here is my view, which I hope would add and build on hope.

The implications of the pandemics are not only economical. They will affect people’s mental health and wellbeing, not just because of the fear of getting ill, but because of restricted freedom and dictated ways of being. History shows us that taking away one’s freedom and isolation are one of the most commonly used means of torture. As much as our current state is for now nowhere near imprisonment, it is likely to leave similar effects. Have a look at numbers of divorce in China and you’ll quickly see what I mean.

The article highly recommended social distancing. And avoid leaving home if one’s been experiencing symptoms. This is backed up by evidence that social distancing works in trying to keep the spread low and gradual. But there is one discourse misunderstanding I see people make when trying to obey the recommendation (or order in some countries/cases). And here is the thought that I would really like to communicate across

Social distancing should not be interpreted as social absence – completely removing yourself from social life.

Having no (or little) physical contact with others is by no means implying that one should not have emotional and social contact with others. Social life has not disappeared. It is changing. Re-defining. You do not have to avoid your neighbour across the street if you see them appearing on the door to take the rubbish out. The virus does not spread by looking at each other and making a remote friendly gesture.

I do hope that as much as we need to stay vigilant in these tough times, we do not become socially isolated. We have not disappeared from each other, we are still here and in this – together. I will soon prepare a webinar on that. The one that will help us stay vigilant and hopeful. If you are interested, send me your email at biba@ribalon.org. And take care of yourselves and each other in the way that makes your lives worth living.

Biba

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How many do we really need?

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