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Are we really talking about “Social Distancing” or it is really Physical Distancing? Words matter.

Winslow Sargeant
Mar 25 · 3 min read

by Dr. Winslow Sargeant and Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy

Covid-19 has literally taken the entire world by storm. We are all struggling to even digest how our daily lives have been turned upside down in such a short order of time. As we battle how to handle physical isolation, we are all in agreement that we must work together to limit the spread of the virus.

Today, the required steps that we must take to “flatten the curve” of this coronavirus are now being universally adopted. One of those steps has been called “Social Distancing.” I visited the United States Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website and watched a video by members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force (Drs. Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams) who gave guidance on “Social Distancing: The Dos and Don’ts.” As explained by Dr. Fauci, Social Distancing is actually the physical separation of people. Dr. Birx furthered explained what was the minimum distance needed, which was six feet. According to her, this number comes from the distance that droplets travel due to sneezing from those who suffer from respiratory diseases. These are measures we can take to help prevent the spread. To slow the impact of Covid-19, we must heed sound advice or risk peril.

The branding of the tag line, “Social Distancing,” however, caught my attention. It has quickly become a phrase that is universally accepted and used. Are we truly distant if we can connect virtually? My interest in this concept was heightened even more after I recently entered DJ D-Nice’s virtual dance party streamed on Instagram. The concept came out of being shut in our homes (i.e., quarantined) and the need to make “lemonade out of lemons.” I along with more than one hundred and fifty thousand people were in this virtual house party. It was a remarkable feat. Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, former First Lady Michelle Obama, Bradley Cooper, Mark Wahlberg, Oprah, former Vice President Joe Biden, Melba Moore, Stevie Wonder, Dave Chappelle, Colin Kaepernick, Rihanna, Will Smith, and many more were spotted in this party. DJ D-Nice, in a post virtual party interview said that he plans to keep the club’s doors open, “a reminder that as much as social distancing keeps us apart, it is keeping us connected, too.” That is the whole concept of the internet and social media. It is about socially connecting with one another and the world regardless of your location. It isn’t about social distancing. We may need to be physically distant, but not socially apart.

I am encouraged that there are still ways that we can effectively communicate globally. We can remain connected while we may be physically isolated. The internet provides this safe way for us to maintain our connectiveness. It is true that viruses even exist in cyberspace, and we must take every precaution when you receive email or any type of notification. As far as I know, there has not been a case of machine virus to human transfer. Until that is a problem, let’s continue to increase our social connectivity. Let’s use our virtual world to enhance the physical world. Let’s stay strong because it will take all of us to work together when we come out of this crisis. As the song goes by The Beatles, “Come Together.”

Written by

Dr. Winslow Sargeant is Senior Advisor for Globalization and Head of Capital of Capital Markets at Genaesis, LLC. He is also President-Elect ICSB.

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