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Guest Essay

Socially We Should Engage. Physically We Should Distance

by David Alpern *
* Mr. Alpern, a principal in Long Beach-based InternetOMG, was an early proponent of the internet as an advertising and marketing medium. He has applied his MBA earned from USC's Marshall School of Business to help businesses improve their digital advertising and marketing strategies.

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(April 26, 2020, 9:00 p.m.) -- Social Distancing is the buzzword of this COVID-19 epoch. But it is a misnomer, and if taken literally, bad advice.

As a species, humans are formulated to engage. Loneliness is an awful feeling, and is a large contributor to depression and suicide. Societyís success in flattening the curve will result from physical separation. Societyís sanity will remain if we practice social engagement; but woe be unto all of us if we indeed partake in social distancing, as per its actual meaning.

Technology exists so that calls, emails, and video conferencing can all be harnessed to connect with each other; helping alleviate our loneliness. If someone is going stir crazy due to the pandemic, practice social engagement with them; not social distancing.

Certainly, remain physically distant; be it in another country, another state, another city, another building, or at least 6-feet (2-meters) apart. But socially? Engage to both your heartsí content!

>The World Health Organization (WHO) has transitioned to using the term "physical distancing," clarifying at a March 20 news briefing that social distancing or isolation isn't good for mental well-being. Officials of the global health body said while maintaining a physical distance was "absolutely essential" amid the global pandemic, "it does not mean that socially we have to disconnect from our loved ones; from our family."


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In early April, Long Beach's Department of Health & Human Services stated on social media that it concurs with the logic of shifting from social to physical in our distancing lingo:

"Let's shift from #SocialDistancing to #PHysicalDistancing," the city agency said. "Maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet or more can help delay the spread of COVID-19, But physical distance doesn't mean you can't stay connected to your family, friends and co-workers. If you can, check-in with 3 people today through a video chat, phone call or text."


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ELB Councilmembers Suzie Price and Stacy Mungo have occasionally used the term "physical distancing" in their emails and other communication, but along with Councilman Daryl Supernaw, they often fall back on the less desirable term "social distancing."

Letís all get on board the physical distancing train, and work to embrace the social connecting necessity. Our collective sanity depends on it.


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Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in LBREPORT.com's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. LBREPORT.com isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.


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