What is Social Distancing?

Unless you have been avoiding all media or social media, you are aware of the pandemic and current health crisis caused by COVID-19. Information coming from all levels of government and the Health Organizations have asked people to practice “Social Distancing.”

I had no idea what social distancing was and had never heard of it before now. But, according to John Hopkins, it means: Social distancing is a public health practice that aims to prevent sick people from coming in close contact with healthy people in order to reduce opportunities for disease transmission.

As infections with the disease grow, government officials are encouraging people to stay home, avoid large gatherings and to self-quarantine if they are sick. They have also shut down entertainment centers, businesses and encouraged restaurants to serve food by delivery only. People are discouraged from visiting non-essential places.

At a dizzying pace, I found myself working from home and no longer interacting with people unless through technology.

There have been dystopian movies about how anti-social we could potentially become as human beings due to technology. I have even talked about the fear of depending on social media and applications rather than human connection.

Surprisingly, what I quickly discovered is that I depend on small doses of human interaction.

I am what could be considered an Introverted, Extrovert. I enjoy my solitude and I can easily entertain myself while being alone. I match all the hallmarks of an Introvert and I basically live in my mind.

Yet, I have been socialized through education and work to be extroverted when I need to be. As a young adult, I worked in sales. My career has been in either Human Resources or an HR-related field. I am constantly meeting with people, conducting workshops or even delivering training. I can turn on my big personality when I need to.

But, it can also zap me to interact with so many people. I can be found sleeping the day after a Conference or just needing serious down-time until I feel like I have been balanced out.

Social media has offered me the ability to connect, but being able to control the level to which I am immersed.

Based on all of this, I thought that social distancing and remote work would be the ideal setup for me.

However, I was shocked to find that two days in, I missed my small-talk with my co-workers. By the third day, I realized that I was more encouraged to get up and move around either by having to run to a meeting or just by someone stopping by. My day was structured in a way that I was constantly seeing or talking to someone which, not only kept me energized but also forced me to step away from my work.

I thought they were distractions from my work, but they were actually helping me to refocus. The breaks were supplementing my bursts of productivity.

I can still accomplish my work when I am alone by myself because I have coached myself over the years to focus when I need to focus. It’s how I wrote books or even finish this column. But, writing is a task which I expect to be solitary. It’s just me writing down the words from my mind onto the page.

My job is often a collaborative environment where we bounce ideas off each other to create better and bigger ideas. Instead of walking slowly out of my office and into my co-worker or bosses’ office to organically come up with ideas, we have to schedule time on the calendar and meet technologically.

I learned that I am not as much of an introvert as I thought. I do appreciate and long for connection. I do value the input and anecdotes of other people. I thrive on their stories and point-of-views.

What that teaches me is that the world isn’t as anti-social as I thought and neither am I. However, I need to follow the guidelines and remain distant to protect my health and the health of others.

Have you read the original anthology that was the catalyst for The Good Men Project? Buy here: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood

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