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When Social Distancing equals Self-Preservation, We all Lose.

Stay six feet apart from everyone else. Videos of people singing “Stay the fuck at home” going viral. A little girl in Alaska going viral for telling people “It isn’t that hard.” This is what the world is coming to, and it is going to be the worst thing to happen to us as a society. The worst is yet to come.

It isn’t the social distancing itself that will be our undoing. It’s the attitude of self-preservation that comes with and from it that will be. As human beings, we can all deal with a little bit of “social distancing” for a day or three. How many of us haven’t “disappeared” for a day or two just to get a chance to clear our heads so we can come back and deal with life as usual again?

Can anyone even say when Social Distancing began at this point? I can’t. We were social distancing because of the flu in my household two weeks before any word of the virus even reached us. Did it start with the first cruise ship being quarantined? Or was it the first school closing? Or did it start well before that? I did a google search for “what day did social distancing begin in the US” and there literally was not a single answer. Lots of results for “when will it end” though. Wiki calls it the 2019-2020 Pandemic, so shit didn’t actually hit the fan in 2020, but way back in 2019 now? None of them give a definitive date on either end.

There is a reason for that. We have technically been moving toward social distancing, without a pandemic, for a very long time. Pinpointing an actual date is likely impossible. If I had to personally pin down a date that it really “started”, I’d take it all the way back to November 8th of 2016. You remember that day? The cries heard around the world that day still ring in my ears. Yeah, that was the day that I feel social distancing really began. It was a day that tore us, as a people that gave a rat’s ass about each other, apart.

I don’t do politics. Not on a good day, not on a bad day. I have my opinions and thoughts on all kinds of matters, but I see them as my opinions and thoughts and those are mine and mine alone unless I choose to share them. Same with religion and 99.9% of the time I choose not to. Regardless, the number of people that ranted and raged, then suddenly unfriended me because I refused to take a side one way or the other publicly, was unreal.

It wasn’t more one party over the other. It was people from both sides and it was the first sign, to me at least, that we were on the verge of a very real and unstoppable catastrophe. People literally just stopped caring about other people and completely cut ties with them. Some were even labeled as enemies and less than human because of it. Not because they disagreed with them but because they didn’t agree with them, on a massive scale. That was scary.

It’s one thing to be angry and upset with someone over disagreement. This was different. This was suddenly making it okay to relabel a person as inhuman, and whatever happened to them was okay, because they were no longer people. We do it all the time with criminals, but this was our neighbors, family, and even close friends. Suddenly, half the world or more was now “against us” on all sides. It hasn’t gotten any better either.

People are intentionally coughing on other people because they are mad. They are licking vegetables and putting them back at grocery stores. They are buying up as many supplies as they can get with no regard for who else might need some. Who, prior to 2016 would do such a thing? Only crazy people and criminals. Who are the crazy people and criminals these days? People not social distancing the way we think they should, people wearing scrubs of any kind, and anyone that doesn’t stay 6 feet away from us at all times.

We literally watched a tense situation at Walmart the other day. Someone asked someone wearing a face mask at Walmart if they were ill or just taking precautions, just to get a feel for the actual situation around them and offer to help if they were ill, either paying for their purchase or helping them carry things to their car.

The person wearing the face mask was terrified by the question at first. They literally flinched and brought up their fists like they were about to be attacked from several feet away before realizing the lack of hostility in the question. Then, after a long and tense moment of silence, lowering their arms and relaxing a bit, responded with “It’s just for precaution. I’m not sick and I don’t want to be.” The other person nodded and both went on their way.

In February, the end date was March, In March it was April. Here it is April and the end date is now the end of May. I’m actually seeing dates like “at some point” or “by the end of” August. We don’t really know when that day will come at this point. We are hopeful that it is soon, but our guts are telling us it won’t be. How long can we continue simply practicing social distancing before we start seeing everyone around us as a potential harbinger of death that we need to always protect ourselves from?

The moment the vast majority stop seeing people as people, we are all done for. Slow down our demise. Remember to see people as individuals that have needs just like you do. Be slower to respond to questions and simple kindnesses as threats until proven otherwise. Right now, most people are just wanting to protect themselves and their loved ones, but still have to go on, just like you do.

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