Social distancing

Social distancing


Sunday, April 05, 2020

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One touch of nature,

Makes the whole world kin.

— Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, III, 3

Ain't that the truth? Whenever nature decides to exert itself in the form of natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, typhoons, or plagues, everyone who's affected, and even those who aren't, suddenly become kinfolk, their brother's keeper. They rally together for the common good to survive, to comfort each other, to offer solace.

They embrace each other… until the disaster passes then they go back to their selfish, wicked ways. Still, that community spirit and closeness only apply to certain disasters, for in the case of the coronavirus or any other plague that's highly contagious, it's best to stay as far apart as you possibly can.

Back in the old days, lepers were shunned, avoided by all, treated like pariahs, and in fact were mandated to walk the streets ringing a bell and shouting the words, “unclean, unclean.” Ironically, leprosy is not highly contagious. People who contracted other plagues were also discarded by the community and became social outcasts. Many were beaten or burnt.

The point is, social distancing is nothing new, as it did manage to curtail the spread of the contagion. It was a simple and effective way to stem the spread of any plague of the time. “Stay far from me and I won't catch it.”

And yet, despite this history of social distancing, there are still some modern-day individuals who still just don't get it, and continue to mingle like a school of jellyfish in the ocean. Social distancing, that's what we'll draw close to today, right after these not so disturbing responses to 'Disturbing domestic data'.

Hi Tony,

Domestic violence, it seems, is just plain bullying, where one partner picks on the weaker one. As for forced sex, it usually is the male that has a fantasy of dominating the female and violently forcing himself on her. Sometimes the woman will fight back during the sex act, which seems to excite the man even more. There are cases where the woman's relatives will waylay the abuser and beat him to a pulp. In other cases, the woman will sever the man's manhood, or more extremely, put him to sleep permanently. I do not know how these abusers sleep at night knowing that they may have driven their partner to resort to such extreme retaliatory measures.


Hey Tony,

Domestic violence will never end, and the data will continue to disturb. That is because too many women allow themselves to be victims and accept that it's their lot to be beaten. How come some men will never lay a hand on some women, yet beat others? That's because those cowardly men know who they have strength for. As the saying goes, “Duppy know who to frighten.” If more women would assert themselves, abuse would decline. I'm not nave to think that it would stop, but more men would think twice before raising their hand to women.


Social distancing is very important in the animal kingdom. Even if many animals are sociable, there is still an invisible barrier that they dare not breach. No underling gets too close to the alpha male, and no one definitely gets too close to the cubs of a female. There are some animals that mark their territory by urinating on trees or bushes, thus indicating what boundaries belong to them. Many Jamaican men do that too.

Humans mark their perimeters in other ways, as that fence around the yard is of utmost importance in demarcating territory. People have been taken to court for boundary line disputes.

Even while speaking to each other, there is an invisible line that we dare not cross. “How come yu suh close up inna mi face boss? Back off.” I remember once being in a line at the post office and this man ran in huffing and puffing and joined the line behind this lady. Unfortunately his huffing and puffing went straight down the 'neck back' of the lady, who didn't take kindly to the unwanted hot breath. Well, she turned around and gave him a sound cussing about the sanctity of her space. “Stop blow yu stinking breath down inna me neck back.”

Such is the importance of social distancing. And yet, we are a people who are drawn to each other, gregarious by nature. We like closeness, especially men towards women, and a hug and a kiss are hallmarks of our socialisation. We often express this in dancing, as back in the day it was a joy to hold a lady close to our body and dance a slow love song.

I say back in the day, for youngsters nowadays participate in social distancing on the so-called dance floor, when they go to parties. No one dances anymore. The guys will stand to one side and the girls on the other, as east is east and west is west, and nary the two shall meet. The term, 'Rent a tile' is unknown to this modern generation.

Now, crosses deh pon we, and social distancing is mandated, all because of this cursed COVID-19 that threatens not only the health of our people, but our social fabric. Because of its contagion, it's recommended that social distancing is implemented to combat the spread. That means no more closeness, no touching each other, no hugging, no kissing, no congregating in groups.

That's not us, we are a touchy feely people who take great pleasure in being a part of crowds, packed tightly together like sardines in buses, squeezing up in taxies. Nuh dance nuh nice unless the dance cork.

Coronavirus mash that up. Gone are the days of large set-up, nine night and funerals. No longer will there be large weddings. The limit is now 10 people per gathering for those occasions and others. Some people are averse to this and countries such as Italy paid the price dearly, as coronavirus spread like wildfire, partly due to the habit of Italians who, like us, are huggy huggy, touchy feely, kissy kissy people.

We cannot congregate in churches anymore. Collections will suffer and new ways will have to be implemented to collect tithes. While on the subject of church, how come no faith healer has come forward to lay hands on coronavirus victims and cure them? Have they all gone into hiding?

While paying some bills recently I had to stand in a line outside the establishment before being allowed inside, as only 10 souls were allowed at any given time. A line or crowd outside defies the purpose, so I stepped away, but marked my territory visually, until my turn to enter came.

Upon entering it was a joy to be in a space bereft of people brushing up against me. There was no crowd, no line, no jostling, just a short walk up to pay the bill. I also passed a bank in Half-Way-Tree and the crowd that was outside waiting to enter could fill the stadium. This should be addressed.

Inside some establishments there are markings on the floor indicating where the customer should stand in order not to get too close to the server. I really feel it for those workers on the front line such as bank tellers, fast-food servers, over-the-counter service staff in general, and especially our doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel who find it almost impossible to practise social distancing.

They have to face it every day, even as the rest of us try to maintain safe distancing. It's akin to firemen running into a fire, even as other people are running out. I salute them and respect their bravery.

I am no scientist, but it was always a logical assumption that this virus had to be airborne to some degree. If someone coughs or sneezes, those droplets will remain in the air even for a while, making it airborne. Now the experts have concluded that it is indeed airborne and can linger for hours. So if someone sneezes in an office and you walk in after, it's quite possible that you can walk right into that invisible sneeze cloud. I remember as a child smelling my brother's sneeze, long after he left the room, so I applied that memory and logic.

There are also people who have been practising social distancing all their lives, as they are miserable antisocial wretches, choosing to be by themselves as they wallow in their misery. This is nothing new to them.

For the rest of us though, this is a new paradigm, as gyms, martial arts classes, dance studios, markets, restaurants, nightclubs, sports, all suffer in a huge way. How quickly our lives have changed, as things we took for granted are suddenly no more.

But this, too, shall pass and sadly, mankind will resort to its usual selfish, arrogant, wicked ways. Until then, let us abide by the rules and maintain our social distance. Nuh touch nubady, no handshaking, no hugging, no kissing on cheeks. You can text or WhatsApp, but make sure that you keep your social distance.

More time.

Footnote: These are times that try men's souls, but they also bring families closer. People are staying home more and interacting with each other and their children. Of course, some aren't used to it and get cabin fever as they yearn for the streets, but in the main it does have a positive impact on family life. I still maintain that they could free up the bars somewhat, as those dimly lit hideaways are a source of solace, refuge, and comfort to many men. I have never seen a crowded bar. Doing so may prevent some domestic abuse from occurring and save some relationships.

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