Social Distancing or Physical Distancing?

I think it was the BBC where I read this phrase first: Social Distancing. It is being highly propagated and accepted as one of the two major recommendations for containing the spread of Corona virus along with frequent washing of hands with soap & water. Well, I fully agree with the concept this phrase intends to communicate to the people in our global society which is in a fear mode due to the rapid spread and scaring damage of lives caused by this very little known Covid-19 flu. On the basis of whatever little the world knows about the nature and behaviour of this virus, the best we can do to minimize the damage and to contain its spread, is to follow the above two recommendations very responsibly and strictly. I do pray and believe, along with all the well wishing people of the world, that by making use of the accumulated knowledge so far archived in this earth of ours, the medical fraternity will soon be able to contain and cure the effect of this new enemy, by coming up with the necessary medication and prevention formulae. 

While expressing my full agreement with the concept of communication this phrase intends to make, I find some discomfort with the word-content of the phrase. I believe the message of the communication would be more appropriately conveyed by formatting the phrase as Physical Distancing. The experts in the concerned fields are advising that we should maintain a distance of at least one meter to put a break in the spread of the virus. This one meter distance is meant to be from one physical person to another physical person. A social person encompasses much more social aspects than the mere physical contents a person has. A person’s social presence is not limited by the physical body she wears. Similarly, a society is not limited within a geographical boundary. There should not be any difficulty agreeing with it in this age of ever evolving international networking facilities.

An exemplification of my musings would be this fresh instance of this morning. I had a talk with our son Sharad who is in the middle of his internship at Alabama. Along with many other chit-chat, we talked about the cancellation, rescheduling, route option, availability difficulties of his return travel. While talking all these for more than 30 minutes, we never had any realization that we were physically 13,281 Kms. apart and more than 11 hours time difference, my this morning was his yesterday night. But we were socially together as if in our sitting room sofas. Similar talks and video chats were done with the dear ones at Hyderabad, Kalimpong, Kolkata and Hetauda. All these contacts made us more close to each other and enriched us in our mutual understanding, feelings, learning, sharing, advising, assisting, encouraging, restricting – all the things we carry out in our societies. And undoubtedly, these are the people in the innermost circle of my society. One can easily see that my social proximity with all these members of my society was enhanced – not pushed off or depleted. I would give full credit of this enhancement of our social proximity to the total lockdown of our nation due to Covid-19 progress. Obvious reason – all these people including me would have been busy with daily core and our respective engagements would not make it possible for us to communicate freely at any time and/or for any length of time. May I put it this way that the world lockdown has compensated our physical distancing with social proximity.

With the help of the example cited above, I only wanted to home in on the thought process I have in my mind while saying that it is not Social Distance we intend to maintain but definitely we need to keep Physical Distance to help break the spread of the present Covid-19 crisis.

Wish you all a happy social proximity with temporary physical distancing. 

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