How can you use Social Media and maintain Social Distance?
Both are contradictory and we still don’t know what we are advocating!
People are being taken for a ride all the time and we don’t know it! I can show more than a hundred examples. This is one of them.
Social distancing technically means that you should keep away from one another in social interactions.
In today’s context, with the pandemic of Covid-19, what they mean is ‘Physical Distance’. Physical distance emphasizes that you should keep away from one another in physical interactions.
Physical and social interactions are not interchangeable.
Physical Distance can be Managed
It is easy for someone to judge physical distance and keep maintaining them. Though not accurately, physical distance can be enforced by an approximate estimation. Two meters or six feet can be easily gauged and you can correct the distance whenever someone comes very near to you.
Physical Distance can be Observed
It is very easy to see whether someone is maintaining the physical distance or not. In addition to observation, the physical distance can be photographed, video graphed, or recorded on CCTV.
Physical Distance can be Monitored
Suppose there is a crowd, it can be regulated through proper queuing. Circles can be drawn to keep distance from one another while standing in a queue. A seat can be left vacant so that alternate seats can be occupied, and thus distance maintained.
Physical Distance can be Enforced.
Those who do not follow the rules can be reprimanded, penalized, or punished. The number of people entering a public place like a mall, hotel, theatre, stadium, etc. can be minimized to ensure a smaller number of people in the enclosure.
Managing, observing, monitoring, or enforcing social distance will lead to disaster.
Nothing will work if we practice social distancing.
How can you keep yourself mentally or socially away from your friends, relatives, and co-workers? You have to interact with them daily and this interaction is your bread and butter.
In this modern age, social distancing is an impossibility. Let us understand ‘Social Proximity’ as against social distancing.
A long time ago, social proximity meant face-to-face interaction. Imagine a time when there was no phone, TV, etc., which have now become necessities of life.
Social proximity also includes communication. You can communicate with one another without having any physical proximity.
Communication has now become the fundamental basis of our existence. The whole existence of mobile phones, computers, television, social networks, social shopping, etc. depends upon social proximity and not physical proximity.
Social media dies if social distancing is followed. Every link you see on the internet is asking you to establish social contact with someone you probably don’t know! Suppose you maintain the social distance you should refrain from clicking these social links.
However, it is social media, which has been shouting about social distancing. Nobody thinks through what they are trying to communicate. Someone starts using a term irresponsibly and others start picking it up. Gradually, it becomes the most common usage in social media, especially digital media.
When the World leaders and all the so-called famous people start using them, no one will have the courage to point out the mistake. You can’t blame these people for using them because they are not experts in linguistics. But what are the ‘actual experts’ doing?
Social Distance Scale
In 1924, a man named Bogardus developed a measuring tool called the “Social Distance Scale” to measure the proximity between different groups. In those days, segregation was practiced extensively, and physical and social distance meant the same thing. If you were not socially close to someone, you were also keeping your physical distance from them!
There was no such thing as separate social media back then. Any social interaction meant that it included physical proximity.
Now, almost a century is passing by, with a change that is akin to almost a thousand years, and yet, even today, this has not changed. Talking on the phone does not need any physical proximity. However, how can you keep social distance and still talk to someone on the phone?
The curricula in almost all universities teaching Education, Psychology, and Sociology, use the term Social Distance in the same outdated context.
Living without Interactions?
Both these terms convey wrong meanings. A mother can’t keep physical distance from her infant child, and an employee can’t keep a social distance from the colleagues.
Consider people living in small homes. Four to six persons live in a limited space and they don’t have the luxury of maintaining physical or social distance.
The same plight is there for homeless people and people affected by natural disasters and wars.
We no longer keep either physical or social distance from anyone. It is not possible to do so in the modern era because transportation and communication are the two most important channels now for existence. We can’t travel alone and we will not survive if there is no communication.
A World with Interactions
Almost all relationships will be eliminated if we follow social distance.
Working from home is not social distancing. You need your phones, internet, other communication lines, etc. and actually, there is an increase in social connections. We are only reducing physical contact.
As it is, we maintain physical distance from strangers. We don’t hug everyone on the street and we keep ourselves away from others! And others move away from us automatically.
So, instead of talking about social distance, let us say the following: “Maintain a physical gap of at least two meters or six feet from the other person, and wear a mask. Sanitize your hands frequently. This will help in preventing the spread of coronavirus in public places.”
Need for Change
“Fooling everyone all the time” is possible by the propaganda machine!
Should we continue to use these archaic and obsolete terms even now?
We have brought in so many legislations to change our ways of life. But should we keep these outdated concepts and use them regularly? Should we not change our curricula to inform and educate the younger generation so that they continue a truthful legacy?
Who will bell the cat?