Physical Distancing and Social Connection


I recently heard the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom correcting the terminology from social distancing to physical distancing. He explained how young people are socially connected through social media which is okay to to continue. It's the physical closeness that needs to change for now. It is hard to predict how long physical distancing will need to continue but one thing is certain, we need social connection more than ever.

Generations that grew up before social media became socially connected through physical closeness. We met other parents sitting next to each other on bleachers or in school auditoriums. We worshiped next to each other on pews. We met in bars, restaurants and coffee shops at small tables within ear shot of each other. All of these environments were designed to bring people close together to create social connection.

But social connection can happen even when you are physically distant. Now is the time to engage with people you haven't spoken to because you were too busy, the people you enjoy being connected to but rarely encounter.

I have a close friend who has been doing just this. She is connecting with old college and childhood friends. Between cleaning out her closets, she is tieing up unfinished business in past relationships. Before the quarantine, she frequently encountered an old boyfriend and they often exchanged social pleasantries. Even though it has been 12 years since their last date, she decided to ask why he never called. She also called another man to apologize for breaking his heart. Inspite of the physical distance, her social connections are closer than ever.

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