Against Social Distancing
The coup de grâce to our societies
Historians will look at the year 2020 with dismay: our societies were more polarized than ever and instead of uniting people against a common enemy—the virus—, world leaders asked them to be even more isolated and divided.
That’s what “social distancing” literally means. The irony couldn't be thicker.
Who chose that term? WHO did not apparently:
In March, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended to use the more appropriate “physical distancing” instead (and you should too!):
We're changing to say physical distance and that's on purpose because we want people to still remain connected. So find ways to do that, find ways through the internet and through different social media to remain connected because your mental health going through this is just as important as your physical health.
As Stanford University professor of psychology Jamil Zaki argued:
Ironically, the same technologies we often blame for tearing apart our social fabric might be our best chance, now, of keeping it together.
And yet, 7 months later, “social distancing” is still used 10 times more than “physical distancing”:
The virus makes any other human being a potential danger, an enemy. Masks create a physical barrier between each other and prevent us from seeing other people’s faces and emotions. And even our vocabulary reflects our social divisions. Now it’s too late to change, but what does the persistent use of the term “social distancing” reveal about our societies? Is it just because this term appeared first and is shorter? Who knows…?
Unrests, wars, protests, contested elections… And the coup de grâce of a forced social divide: 2020 may be remembered in history as a year of divisions. The year of the Great Refragmentation.
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