We've Been Social Distancing For Years
But you just didn't realize it
The world has become an echo chamber, filled with catchphrases and like-minded thinking. We are told where to go and when to go there. On the news, our leaders use jargon that bespeaks the current zeitgeist. We have become the receptors of anything. Social distancing is the new hotness. It is the catch-all phrase for separating ourselves in public spaces. But haven’t we been doing this for years?
I’m not a forward-thinker. I can’t accurately predict what impact tech products will have on our lives. I buy things because I think they are cool. When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, the only thing I was worried about was how to afford it. And it wasn’t until the 3GS model, a year later, that I got an iPhone. And it was a used one, given to me by a friend. Fast forward to 2020. Three months in and we are already sequestered in our homes, hunkering down to avoid a virus that has the potential to spread like wildfire.
The modern smartphone has given us the tools to connect instantly. We can search the web in our cars, share video calls from across the world, and post about our (possibly fake) exploits on social media to show everyone how smart, well-rounded, cool, and kind we are. And yet this is all done in private, behind our screens, in front of our TV’s. The safety of our keyboards gives us the courage to say things we may never normally say to someone in person.
We create opinions more easily. I can tell you how much I dislike your point of view much easier in a chat room because you won’t be able to see my eyes. I can argue with you, call you names, berate your family, or even send threats. All of this because we are not in the same room, city, state, or country. The smartphone created social distancing long before it was the cool term to use on every news outlet.
As a veteran of the hospitality industry for over 20 years, I can say with great authority that families no longer enjoy their time around a table. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or most social gatherings, a table is usually sat with total strangers. A family of four gathered together for a meal, but all four of them are on their phones. No one is talking. They are absent in every way but the physical. I’m not here to tell you how to raise your kids or enrich your romantic relationships, but get off the fucking phone and talk to your loved ones.
get off the fucking phone and talk to your loved ones
There is nothing more precious than time. As a writer, it’s the thing I value most. You’ve chosen to devote a few minutes of your day to read this, so I respect that. And time amongst our families and friends is more valuable than any amount of Likes, Shares, Hearts, Upvotes, and Certifications.
Now, more than ever, we should be concerned about our personal freedoms. A small town in France is using a list for its residents to pick up bread. One family, one loaf. And once you pick up your loaf, your name is crossed off. Next! This is something that happened during the start of WWII. There was no rampant virus in 1939. The only hatred was about to come from an austrian-born leader named Hitler. The more things change…
I live in the southeast part of the United States. I can still go outside whenever I feel like it. I can still visit my loved ones up the road. Others don’t have it quite so good right now, and I’m aware of that. I don’t take my freedoms for granted. I know the seriousness of our current climate. And I know that if we are not careful, this part of our tale may not finish with a happy ending.
Take the time to put your phone down. Kiss your loved ones and tell them how much they mean to you. We are all in this together and no amount of social distancing will change our basic need for human interaction and affection. There’s a beautiful world outside your window. Let’s hope we are able to share it once again.
Be well and be kind to each other