Social ? Distancing

When we adopted the phrase “social distancing,” we subtly inserted an impediment to being together.

October 14, 2020

Early this year, the phrase “social distancing” suddenly leapt into our common vocabulary. And instead of giving us a shared response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we believe that phrase has contributed to divisiveness.

Social distancing emerged as a term for a beneficial way of behaving during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the phrase may be inadvertently separating us from each other. 

The rigorous use of language is extremely important in our everyday lives. It becomes even more important when we face situations which challenge our human community. Careless speaking often produce unintended consequences and adverse effects in our relationships with each other.

If we were speaking rigorously, we would use the phrase “physical distancing.” Physical distancing - putting a few more feet between our bodies - is needed and wanted now to reduce the spread of the virus. Social distancing is not.    

Social has to do with being in the company of others, being together. Being together is more than bodies being in proximity. Being together includes acknowledging the presence of each other. It includes being in communication with each other.  

Communication doesn’t require bodies in close physical proximity. It requires speaking and listening to each other - by whatever means available. 

When we adopted the phrase “social distancing,” we subtly inserted an impediment to being together. We can’t help hearing in the background, “less being together.” 

We don’t need social distancing; we don’t need less “being together”. We need “social closening” - more communicating with each other. We need to know that in this time of stress that we have others that we can be in touch with. “Social closening,” coming closer together socially, even if a bit more distant physically, is what we’re looking for.   

As you engage in physical distancing to support your physical well-being, you can include “social closening” to foster your mental, emotional and spiritual well-being - and that of others.

Love,

Lon&Sandy

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