In recent months, the term social distancing has been at the forefront of conversations, commercials, and cautions from the government. If we practice social distancing, they say, we will mitigate the spread of Covid19. The truth is, we’ve been practicing social distancing since the inception of cell phones, texting, and search engines. The last thing we need is more social distancing because it creates a contagious virus of its own.
I’m sure you’ve seen it—people sitting in a restaurant. No one is talking. Instead, heads are bowed, and eyes are fixed steadfastly on the palm-sized screen clutched in their hands. The tipping point for me was a few days ago when I watched a family of three in a restaurant. As they waited for a table, the mom and dad each focused on their cell phones while their son—probably around seven—watched a movie on his tablet. As the hostess led them to the table, the boy followed his parents, earbuds in place, eyes glued on his tablet. A few minutes later, my husband and I were led to a table near them and, throughout their entire meal, the boy watched the movie while his parents stayed engaged on their cell phones. After they paid the bill, the mom told her son to unplug and leave. He argued with her. She insisted. He pushed back, loudly. She relented and I watched as he got up from the table and slowly left the restaurant, the entire time with his eyes glued to the tablet, earbuds stuck to his head.
Social distancing at its finest.
When it comes to mitigating this horrendous virus, perhaps a better term would be physical distancing, which is a good thing to practice. But, when it comes to social distancing, I submit that it’s time we pull the plug and engage.