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Day 4 RMO: Why is it called Social Distancing?

Since the spread of COVID-19, everyone has been called to practice “social distancing”, at various degrees.

Staying at home as much as possible (which is what the RMO is implementing). Avoiding gatherings of people. No handshakes. Regular handwashing. Keeping at least 6 feet apart from other people (especially in public). These are some forms of social distancing.

The “technical” definition of “social distancing” (per Merriam-Webster) is the practice of maintaining a greater than usual physical distance from other people or of avoiding direct contact with people or objects in public places during the outbreak of a contagious disease in order to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection.

The easier way I would define “social distancing” is : reduce socialising (in the physical sense) with other people.

A friend mentioned that he cannot stand it because he needed to meet other humans apart from his housemates. To which I countered, “What about me? I don’t even have housemates.” (I live alone.) He then replied, “It’s okay for you, you like peace and quiet.”

Well, my friend, that may be true. I do enjoy my “peace and quiet” me times (eg. on weekends, after a full week of work and the other activities that I am actively involved with weekly) but that does not mean this “social distancing” period is any easier for me as compared to others. Humans are social creatures afterall.

Living alone, any time I am outside my house, I am in effect “socialising”. So to have gone through 3 full days of not doing even that, well I can imagine how one can get pretty stir-crazy with long periods of no socialising at all. So today, I decided to take my shopping list and go out to get groceries and some supplies at the pharmacy. And here’s how “social distancing” looked like out there:

To my surprise, there were still a lot of cars on the road. Yes, less than normal, but still a lot more than I imagined. But that was still fine, because we are all safe in the confines of our own vehicles. Oh boy was I in for an even more horrific surprise – the grocery store parking lot was FULL and there we probably HUNDREDS of people inside the grocery store. Umm hello? WHAT Social Distancing??

I didn’t like that the grocery store was crowded so I didn’t spend a long time getting stuff. Unfortunately, I had to spend quite some time queueu-ing for the cashier counter. Yes, it was that crowded. I noticed they had indicator lines on the floor where people were to stand (at the supposed “safe distance” apart) and that was nice. However, some people didn’t pay any attention to it – like the lady behind me in the queue. Excuse me lady, some personal space please! Sigh. In the end, I managed to get most of my groceries at another grocery store that was “less risky” because it was less crowded and they had temperature screening at the entrance.

Next was a challenge on its own. I went hunting for face masks, hand sanitisers, disposable gloves and thermometer. I must have checked almost 10 different pharmacies – face masks and hand sanistisers were sold out in all of them! Fortunately, I managed to buy a few gloves and an in-ear thermometer (because the forehead one is sold out everywhere too). While I was out, I also got some Vitamin C and cough medicine (just in case my on-and-off cough acted up).

I would like to say it was a successful time out of the house, but it wasn’t entirely since I couldn’t get some items on my list (like the face masks and hand sanitisers). Better luck the next time I go out I hope.

The highlight of my day though was a video conference call with mi familia:

Top left: My bro & parents in Brunei
Top right: My bro in Penang
Bottom right: My bro & niece in Kuching

This was the first time we ever “got together” this way. And this was using Instagram videochat too!

Before this, I didn’t even know they had a videochat function.

This was nice guys. Covid or not, we should do this more often!

Stay at home folks, and be safe.

Thanks to technology, we can still keep our family and loved ones close in other ways. =)

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