Social Distancing a New Norm OR an Old Wine in New Bottle

first_imgOne thing I can assure you is that there will be a few changes in the alphabet books – C for Corona, M for masks, N for new normal, O for OTT, P for a pandemic, Q for quarantine, S for social distancing sanitiser or stay at home, V for vaccine, virus or virtual and W for work from home or web series. These aren’t just terms but inevitably have become a part of our daily lives.Out of these, one thing that garners my attention is S for social distancing. The government keeps on issuing advisories to maintain a distance of 2 feet to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, stay at home and avoid stepping out of the house unnecessarily. I kept pondering for a while and realized that the term social distancing isn’t new for us. We have been following this practice for the past 2 decades or so. We may not realize it but it is true as we have been doing it advertently or inadvertently. Since the advent of the internet, we have confined us to ourselves. You don’t believe, I can corroborate it with a few examples. Shopping and movies are just a click away, you don’t have to go and stand in the queue for withdrawing money or you don’t have to go to a bank to deposit a cheque as internet banking is taking care of it in the majority of cases, you don’t have to go to the market and buy groceries as the delivery boy will deliver at your doorsteps, for payment of bills etc. you don’t have to stay in the ques for long as there are so many apps that will do it, sending files and data has become so easy and you don’t need to go to a post office and drop a letter in the post box as email takes care of it presently.,In the pre-internet era, we didn’t have all the above comfort or luxury, I would say, but there was an emotional and social connection with our families, friends and our closed ones. There was a sense of importance and belongingness which is missing a big-time nowadays. Today there are nuclear families which wasn’t a popular concept back then. The concept of joint families is eroding at a fast pace and the day isn’t far away when it will become extinct just like the dinosaurs. At least once a day the entire family used to sit together and had their meals, but now most of the family members are with their phones on the dining table.There was a sense of gratification when we used to meet our closed ones in person but now all those things have become virtual. Today, amid these testing times everyone is craving to going out and meet their friends and relatives, isn’t it? Now we understand the importance of having a social connection when we have been incarcerated within the four walls. Someone asked me ”Hey but posting photos and videos on social media is a trait of social connection, isn’t it? You open Facebook or what’s app, everyone posts their pics with their friends, relatives etc. Doesn’t it reflect that we still have that human to human connection? To this I replied “ How many friends you have on Facebook? He replied firmly “ around 1600”. To this, I asked him “out of 1600, how many people you know in person or with how many you are still in touch”? He replied in a soft tone “around 200”. Again I asked him “out of 200, with how many you speak over the phone(barring what’s app chats) and meet? He replied “around 10”. I said, “you yourself have answered the point that I wanted to explain”.Back then when we used to write letters to our close ones, each and every word carried an emotion with it and left us curious when we will get a reply? Nowadays, you ask yourself is there any attachment to the electronic mails and their replies? Do we have a curiosity for replies? Do we wait for the postman to post letters in the postbox and search for that invaluable one that gave us sleepless nights? If your answer is yes, then you are quite lucky.Playgrounds are more or less empty as you see hardly see children playing. Of course, they’re still scoring runs and goals and taking wickets, but not in a playground, on a tablet. Waking up early in the morning on a holiday and taking your bicycle for a trip with your friends was considered as a luxury and was an emotion. Now it’s left in a corner for rusting. You tell these things to your children and they will consider it as an idiosyncrasy.I still remember how families used to unite on Sunday mornings and glued to the TV to watch Mahabharat, Ramayana and Chitrahaar and the ladies used to serve delicious fritters and other dishes. Today, you’ll hardly find a united family. Today, we are spoilt for choices as we can watch anything anywhere and anytime. Thanks to digitization for removing the cable barriers as we can watch any program on our smartphones, laptop etc. but what about the bonding it has taken away from us? Or I should put it as the bonding we have allowed it to take away from us?There are many such instances which make us realize that social distancing isn’t a new thing for us.How ironical it is that internet kept us together during the pandemic and it is a prime reason for social distancing. The govt has just put it on papers to maintain 2 feet distance but we have been maintaining a distance which can’t be gauged on a measurement scale.So I feel that instead of “social distancing”, the word “physical distancing” would have been more appropriate.last_img read more