Social distancing misnomer

Letters to the Editor

Social distancing misnomer

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

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Dear Editor,

In a recent article by the World Health Organization (WHO) the captioned admonition was offered in an attempt to secure mental and emotional health amidst the unusual global realities brought on by COVID-19.

Since the news of Jamaica's first confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 10, 2020 life on our island home has not been the same. In the past we have got through national and global challenges by being able to talk about them, and often in relatively close proximity. However, we do experience relief and coping ability via remote means such as a telephone conversation.

I would like to highlight the term 'physical distancing' versus the more popular 'social distancing' because the measures of distancing do manifest in physical proximity measures. We are not being discouraged from reaching out to others, because we are supposed to check on the elderly, the vulnerable, and, yes, our neighbours and co-workers in acknowledgement of our shared humanity.

We are social beings because we are human beings. We are arguably more social because we are Jamaican and some of the warmest people on the face of the Earth.

To associate the word “social” with the idea of isolation (distancing) is a psychological misnomer and, in wisdom, the WHO seems to have realised this and has suggested that we begin to replace the term social distancing with physical distancing.

I hope that going forward on our journey to overcome COVID-19 we will, as social beings, reach out through phone calls, family WhatsApp groups, video calls, and maybe like the Italians amidst their pain, start singing some choruses. You know, we find a song for everything.

Let's remain social, let's stay connected. A smile is still not against the law.

Gregor Fong-Hinds

Guidance counsellor

St Hugh's High School

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