The term "social distancing" may be popular with politicians and healthcare workers but it is causing anxiety for many. There's no doubt that we should be maintaining a safe physical distance between each other during the pandemic in order to slow down the spread of this illness but as people are being forced to spend more time apart, this is the time we should be reaching out socially.
So, let's agree to stop saying "social distancing" and replace it with "physical distancing". Here's how we can do that.
As cafes, bars, restaurants, theatres, gyms, churches and temples, and other places we all like to hang out close down or limit access, there's a lot incidental social contact that has simply stopped. There hasn't really been much of an adjustment period – we've all had to go 'cold turkey'. I know from many friends and colleagues that the prospect of such limited contact is already causing them to be anxious.
Even those that normally work from home are concerned as their regular coffee shops and other social meeting places are likely to close down for a while. But we can do a few things.
Use social media constructively
Use an instant messaging platform to create groups of people you want to keep contact with. For example, as a freelance writer, I know a bunch of other people in a similar position. So, we created a Slack group so we can more easily communicate. Some of us get together from time to time over lunch or coffee but while that's off limits, we can stay socially close but physically distant.
Video conferencing is not just for business
One of my relatives overseas lives in a retirement community that is highly social. Neighbours get together most days for a drink and nibbles and chat about whatever topics take their fancy. As they can't physically get together they decided to maintain their regular get togethers but are using tools like Skype and FaceTime.
I'm opening up a Zoom meeting each day at lunchtime for a community I'm involved with so we can just chat while we chomp a sandwich.
I know of couples in long-distance relationships that are unable to travel so are having "digital dates".
Online gaming isn't new but what about online board games?
The Scrabble clone, Words With Friends is an obvious one. You could make it a little more interesting by playing in a foreign language - so you can have some fun and learn a language at the same time.
There's also an online version of Monopoly so you can fight with friends and family at a distance.
If strategy games are more your thing, online version of Catan or Dominion might be more to your taste.
if you've enjoyed an online date with your partner and have the urge to get more intimate there are some options. Aside from the obvious of chatting and playing in front of camera, you could explore the world of teledildonics.
These are sex toys that can be remotely controlled. For example, the We-Vibe WeConnect range of toys are controlled through an app. As long as your partner has an internet connection they can control the toy remotely.
Going to the virtual cinema or hosting a Netflix party
So, lots of blockbuster movies aren't going to be released. Marvel has pushed back Black Widow and the latest instalment in the James Bond franchise, No Time To Die has also been pushed back, but there are still plenty of great movies you can watch with friends.
Hit your favourite streaming on online movie rental service and find a movie you and a friend or group of friends want to watch. Unfortunately, no technology yet exists to overcome the milling about of a group of friends trying to choose a movie together.
Create a discussion group using your favourite instant messaging tool, coordinate a start time and start watching.
You can chat to each other during the movie and enjoy it just as you would in a theatre without someone telling you to shut up when you make silly comments.
Open it up to a video chat at the end while you grab a post movie snack or drink.
While you may be physically isolated, you don't have to socially distance. How are you going to maintain social connections during this period of physical distancing?