Social Distancing

If you haven’t heard the term social distancing by now I’d be quite surprised, as it comes hand in hand with the current COVID-19 outbreak. People need to stay at home and avoid close contact with others.

And from what I’ve seen online, a lot of people are having a hard time with that. For most people, human contact is important. They feel isolated at home without being able to go out. I, on the other hand, have the opposite problem. As an introvert I need time away from people, but I live in a small apartment with two young kids. I used to use my time at work or out on random errands as my chance to depressurize from people.

Anyone with young kids probably knows a bit of what I’m talking about already. That alone can be stressful when schools are canceled and external activities are limited at best. So imagine adding on top of that the constant stress of being near people in general.

I love my kids but, oh boy, I could use a bit of that 2 meter social distancing right now. Even as I write this I’ve relocated within the apartment three times and each time my kids have followed me to within inches. Both playing games on their devices, but nearby nonetheless.

But that is enough complaining, everyone here is healthy and we have all of our other needs met, so we are certainly not really hurting. Also when I do need to go out for food, etc., people keep their distance now which is very nice. We don’t have huge crowds normally here, but every little bit of social distancing is good in my books.

Except the schools being closed, could do without that.

My situation aside though, think about how this could change society if we end up in this state for an extended time. Already here in Bermuda, a place where getting food delivered was a new concept just recently, has ramped up to allowing people to get pretty much anything delivered from pretty much any store. Likewise those businesses which hadn’t prioritized updating or creating a web site are now doing so.

For years, people have been saying society spends too much time behind screens and not interacting face to face anymore. COVID-19 is certainly not going to help in that space. In fact it makes me think of a number of, admittedly science fiction, books in which either by due course or Earth threatening circumstances, we’ve learned how to create digital worlds which are just as real as the one we consider to be real.

The Matrix is probably a more well known example, although I’m imaging a less hostile scenario where we choose when to enter or exit. In the Matrix our human bodies were kept alive as an energy source, but in more fantastical situations it could be possible to map our consciousness so completely such that we no longer need our physical bodies, but I’m not expecting to see that in my lifetime. Hoping yes, expecting no.

Anyway, back in reality, I do expect increasing innovation in things like tele-medicine, remote working and yes, virtual socializing. Only time will tell how far we take it.

Written by Colin Bate
Fabrizio Verrecchia