I’m reading that some professionals are now recommending we say “physical distancing” rather than “social distancing,” because of the implications of the second phrase. Dr. Amy Banks sets up a very good argument for changing our words to help inspire our actions. She suggests “we need to go out of our way to make eye contact, wave, move, or loudly say “hello” from behind the mask” to calm each other’s stress response system.
This hit me like a brick – of course social distancing is not what we should be doing. We should be reaching out even more, learning new ways of connecting with each other since we shouldn’t be physically close to each other outside of our domestic groups.
What is the opposite of distancing? Thesaurus says it is drawing nearer, going closer, moving closer, edging closer, moving nearer, and rolling up. What is your favorite phrase for physical distancing?
Online Connecting is the Ultimate Physical Distancing
I do a lot of my “social going nearer” here on social media because I do a lot of work online. The phone gets a workout, and I’m using apps like Zoom and Kids FaceBook a lot more than I ever thought I would. I really like Zoom – I bought a professional level so I could have more bells and ways to share stuff. Lighting had to be improved and I’m putting on makeup daily now because that lighting brings out every flaw. The sewing table behind me is still covered with mask-making fabrics, so I wouldn’t rate well with people who care about that sort of thing. But whatever…I love it as a tool to make it easier to connect with people.
If you are not online all the time, other ways you can socially go nearer to people is by participating or organizing in something like a Scoop the Loop or Car Parade. These are springing up as people want to show they celebrate someone’s birthday or graduation, so they parade past the celebrant’s yard in their cars, decorated with balloons and good wishes for everyone to see. There is honking and waving and good wishes shouted out of windows. Webster City, Iowa has organized a city-wide effort to weekly line up and proceed through town. Sometimes driving past nursing homes, by graduating seniors’ homes, through the downtown area or through neighborhoods where people have lined up on their driveways to wave and shout.
Scoop the Loop
For the last 4 week Webster City has been Scooping the Loop. The first week was chaotic and over 50 cars were in the parade. The second week 5 of us showed up that miserable night, and we still scooped and honked! The 3rd week we invited the fire department, police and sheriff and 50 people also showed up! The goal the third week was to honor those on the front line, and we drove by the nursing homes, hospital, senior homes and places where folks were still working. The Lutheran Church came down with a truck so folks could make donations to their food pantry – and they collect 750 pounds of food! This week we are honoring the 2020 graduates. There will be 10 fire trucks from around the region and we anticipate 150 cars. When I say we, I mean everyone who participates. It’s not me organizing – I just create graphics and post on social media. David decided he wanted to put the route together. Others give suggestions on line on where to drive, or can they decorate, or who to honor. We tell them yes to everything!
Is this retail? No, but it is community. They boys at Elm Street live together in a shared living space, and have health care workers around the clock. Many people were not aware this was available, and that it’s in a house designed just for their needs. Now they know because they scooped the loop and the boys were outside!
We help Bring folks outside to see there is still life in Webster City. We let our town know we are not dying!Deb Brown, Save Your Town, Webster City Iowa
Way to do physical distancing, Webster City, Iowa!
Other Ways to Connect Socially
Along with talking to people via FaceBook or the telephone, how about writing letters? Now, my writing is horrible and so embarrassing, and I really hate writing up birthday cards. An entire letter is daunting. But there are people doing so as a response to the pandemic, as well as people who have always written letters and didn’t find the advent of email a reason to stop. It helps the Postal Services, too, so there is a double-win for you.
I’m following someone on Twitter who is decorating her envelopes and her letters with scribbles of artwork; she is an artist and is using this to help boost her reach. It’s also a really cool thing to do; you can spread some cheer to your postal worker, as they handle your envelope. Your recipient will treasure your letter, even if your handwriting travels all over the line. This is social drawing nearer in action, and you can do this.
Party in the Alley?
Or maybe your social drawing nearer activity is going to be organizing or taking part in a neighborhood event. Remember listening to Italians singing off their balconies? I’ve read of people holding cul de sac concerts, organizing sing-alongs and exercises from their driveways, and teddy bear hunts for the families. Unless your neighbors are already familiar with each other, you might not know if something like this is going on. Check with NextDoor, or post signs, or just park yourself on your own driveway and chat when someone walks by.
Personally, I started the Pandemic with chalk art, encouraging people to stay hopeful. I drew hearts and messages on the sidewalks. It was fun, although not very interactive. Maybe if I did it consistently and then rewalked that path every day, I would see more people chalking. I would enjoy that.
What other ideas do you have to encourage social coming closer while also sticking to physical distancing? And don’t you agree that changing the words really changes your mind and how you feel about it? Let’s give it a try.