Social Un-Distancing


COVID-19 doesn't scare me. After all, I am spectacularly macho and tough. But it is making me feel a little sad. I find myself mourning the acute loss of social interaction that the virus has thrust upon us. Still, more importantly, it's made me reflect upon the more significant and more pervasive loss of connection that has been plaguing us for decades.

Aside from the (optional) steps of hoarding canned goods, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer, there seem to be two main steps for dealing with COVID-19:  

1. Be very afraid. 

2. Practice social distancing. 


As always, there is much to be afraid of if you let the headlines guide your emotions. I worry about the people I care for, and I do what I can, but I am not anxious or fearful. Anxiety and fear are not going to help this or any other situation. And fear and anxiety will also weaken us physiologically and psychologically. Again, this may be easier for me based on the macho-ness mentioned above, but if you can, please try to practice and project calmness.

Social Distancing:

Creating physical distance is a necessary response to an unfolding situation with a virus we don't fully understand. I've heard gleeful suggestions that we should adopt current social distancing practices after the COVID-19 situation has passed. And why not? No one wants to catch more colds or cases of flu than they need to.

No one likes being sick, but human connection is fundamental to our wellbeing. We cannot thrive without it. Like fear, isolation weakens us and depresses our immune system.

As a society, we already suffer from the effects of isolation. This is the most medicated, depressed, anxious, addicted, and suicide-prone generation that has ever lived.

So let's not equate social distancing with being healthy.

Like everyone else, I worry about vulnerable people in my community, and I don't want to contribute to a situation that might hasten their exit from this world. I'll be careful and do my best to make sure that I don't become a vector for the disease.  

I am, however, going to take this as an invitation to practice Social Un-Distancing. I'm going to reach out to vulnerable people in my neighbourhood. I'll make sure that they have my number and that they know they can call or text if they need support. Maybe that means dropping food or supplies on their doorstep if things get serious. Perhaps it's just a chat on the phone.

Let's not let this be a catalyst for increased isolation, instability and disconnection. Let it be a wake-up call.

If you are feeling anxiety and despair, be brave, reach out for help. People want to help you.

If you feel fine, but are worried about your neighbour, reach out to offer help.

If you have to self-quarantine, use it as an opportunity to increase your empathy for the 50% of the population that report feeling isolated and lonely on a regular basis.

I know that the instant this situation is resolved, I will make it a priority in my life to make connections with greater depth and frequency. We're all in this together. And when we are there for each other, we are at our best.

Paul MacInnis

Partner/Producer - Soul Tribe

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