The World Health Organization is officially advocating against the phrase “social distancing” and is from here on recommending the phrase “physical distancing” instead, according to Reuters.
The idea is to clarify that an order to stay at home during the current coronavirus outbreak isn’t about breaking contact with your friends and family — but rather keeping a physical distance to make sure the disease doesn’t spread.
The sentiment was echoed by Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.
“I would argue that what we are doing right now is physical distancing, not social distancing,” she said during a town hall today, as quoted by the Dorchester Reporter.
“We are creating physical distance between us to limit the spread of the virus,” she added. “But we should be doing that in the same breath as we are maintaining our social connections and sense of community and common sense of purpose.”
Stanford University professor of psychology Jamil Zaki also argued that we should cut it out with all the talk about “social distancing.”
“I think we should begin by re-framing what we’re doing right now,” Zaki said in a Thursday Q&A for the university. “We should think of this time as ‘physical distancing’ to emphasize that we can remain socially connected even while being apart.”
“Social distancing is vital to slowing the spread of COVID-19, but it also pushes against human beings’ fundamental need for connection with one another,” Zaki added. “Ironically, the same technologies we often blame for tearing apart our social fabric might be our best chance, now, of keeping it together.”
READ MORE: Coronavirus live updates [Reuters]
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