The Case Against Social Distancing

By Tobi Schwartz-Cassell

Six-feet apart is still the order of the day, as we watch COVID-19 cases and death counts heartbreakingly mount.

social distancingBut must we call what we are doing “social distancing?” Wouldn’t “physical distancing” make more sense? I ask because the last thing we should be doing now is being socially distant from one another.

With so many suffering from depression, anxiety, isolation and loneliness, the last thing we need to be is mentally, emotionally and socially distant from each other.

Trust me, I am a staunch advocate for physical distancing. It’s what the scientists are telling us to do. And if I’m going to take advice from anyone, it’s going to be a scientist. Stan and I consider ourselves beyond blessed to be able to stay safely in our apartment. And, we have the deepest of gratitude and respect for the essential workers who put their lives on the line for us–and everyone else–every single day. We request on their behalf, continued good physical and mental health. If anyone deserves it it’s them. Yes, the economy is important. But if most of the population dies from a global pandemic, the economy will too.

So, I’m not against the concept of social distancing. I’m against the terminology that was chosen to describe it.

On Sunday, we attended a Zoom funeral in Central Jersey for my dear friend Debbie’s father, a victim of the Coronavirus. After that, we “traveled” to a Zoom birthday party in Abington for our future daughter-in-law, Christine. The day ended back in Central Jersey, with a Zoom Shiva (Jewish prayer service to honor the person who passed away, and to support those who are mourning that person). We hit 3 destinations in two states, yet we didn’t move one inch to go from one milestone event to the next. One of my friends pointed out that as much social distancingof a roller coaster day it was for us, there was one undeniable constant—love. (You nailed it, Kathy.)

Though we were physically distancing for all three functions, the last thing we were doing was socially distancing. It wasn’t the preferred way for the mourners or for our birthday girl, but the alternative would have been disappointment for Christine and loneliness for Debbie.

So, as we continue to live through this unprecedented time in our lives, never lose sight of the most important four-letter word we have in our arsenal: Love. Share it with those you live with, and those who are living alone, and those living in a dangerous (abusive*) situation.

Sending you my love,

PS: Who are you celebrating and/or memorializing during this difficult time, and how are you doing it? Have you bought stock in Zoom yet? Please let us know in the comments below.

PPS: Here’s one way to stay socially close to those who are near or far—our online events. And join us on Facebook for support and laughter at South Jersey Girls Who Wanna Have Fun. Everyone is welcome, no matter where you live!

*PPPS: I hope you don’t need this, but if you do, please contact the New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 572-SAFE (7233), 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Or call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. Click here for a variety of resources for those living in New Jersey.