I don’t love the term ‘Social Distancing‘ that’s being thrown around by the media as it implies that isolating ourselves will leave us devoid of meaningful social interaction.
I’ve been physically distant from my family for over a decade – I live in NYC, my parents are in Mombasa (Kenya), and my sister lives in London. We are physically distant but still have a lot of social interaction primarily over WhatsApp and FaceTime.
I FaceTime my mum (and dad) for about 2-5 minutes every day during my office commute and we chat on our ‘Family WhatsApp’ on a daily basis. This allows us to maintain close social bonds despite being physically distant.
I don’t think this is a substitute (or better) than in person interaction. Being in person socially gives you more data points (3D vision, touch, smell) and is more engaging. It’s also easier and more engaging to have a group conversation in person vs. over video calls.
I’m quarantined in my apartment in NYC away from my wife (who’s with her parents), as I recently traveled internationally (from Kenya) and am probably at risk.
We now have lots of amazing communication tools (e.g. Zoom, Slack, WhatsApp) and good internet which allows for better, more engaging social interaction when physically apart. I’d be excited to try and use these tools (and others) to connect with friends, family and colleagues and be intentionally even more empathetic and compassionate with each other during this time of required physical isolation.
I’m personally going to try to make time for meaningful social interaction – e.g. having ‘dinner’ with my wife over FaceTime, or a glass of wine with my cousins over Zoom, scheduling a Peloton class with a friend and playing games over Zoom with a large group of friends for their virtual birthday party.