Social Distancing: A term which was plain wrong
|A depiction of social distancing as used on CDC website: link|
The CDC defines Social distancing as a means of keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home. Along with including the above image depiction, it also states it to include staying at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people, not gathering in groups and stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
The only quantifiable guideline here is the guidance regarding physical distancing. Calling this practice social distancing is plain wrong as in the age of social media and technology, social interactions have little to do with physical proximity. The danger of this term being considered as a safety guideline has the potential of people maintaining social isolation which is neither required nor desired, we should be interacting more socially and supporting our friends and family in this time of crisis.
In addition, the term social distancing can give a false sense of safety where distancing from our social peers is considered enough. The requirement for distancing in day-to-day transactional settings - work, transportation, essential services and purchasing, from objects and places which may be a mode of transmitting the virus, is also completely lost out with the use of this terminology for such a critical guideline.
In my reading relating the topic, I did find that on March 20, WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove announced at the organization's daily press conference that WHO was officially changing its language: "We’re changing to say 'physical distance,' and that's on purpose because we want people to still remain connected,". The term, however, prevails on most official guidelines potentially masking the purpose it originally meant to serve.