Social Distancing: Meaning and Synonyms

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In these times of Coronavirus pandemic, we are often coming across a terms called “social distancing”. As part of campaign to increase social distancing in India, the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has called for a Janata Curfew on 22 March 2020. Governments around the world are implementing similar efforts and lockdowns.

What exactly is Social Distancing?

Social distancing is an umbrella term that covers practices to reduce human interactions while trying to minimize effects on our daily routines.  For example, work from home is a practice that helps improving social distancing. In work from home, people do not travel to offices and instead they stay as home and carry out official duties through electronic means like telephone, email, internet and remote computer access. It is easy to understand that we all come in close contact with lots of people in our offices. Working from your home aims to cut that human interaction and yet keep the offices working.

Another example of social distancing practice is to avoid unnecessary travel. We should not undertake traveling for purposes that can be postponed or canceled (e.g. vacations, leisure travel etc).  During travel also we come in contact with other people at airports, railway stations, hotels etc. Avoiding unnecessary travel will also increase distance among people.

Other examples of social distancing practices are avoiding gatherings like celebration parties, rallies and sports etc.

The key term in social distancing is to avoid. Social distancing is not like a curfew wherein all the population in a specified area is forced to stay indoor. Social distancing is done willingly with the intention to strike a balance between reducing human interaction and keeping the regular life going on.

Guidelines for Social Distancing

In addition of work from home and avoiding non-essential travel, the World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends that everyone should keep at least 1 meters (3 feet) distance from other persons.

Synonyms for Social Distancing

People in different parts of the world understand the concept of social distancing differently. These differences may arise due to cultural factors and/or literacy and educational factors. As a result, a lot of synonyms for the term social distancing are in use around the world. Here are a few:

  • Unfriending
  • Expansive personal spacing
  • Becoming the center of your own, depressing universe
  • Conscientious hermiting
  • Shuttering Mervin’s room
  • Blockading
  • Territorial wolverining
  • Hula hooping
  • The Unfriend Zone
  • Isolation
  • Invisible holding cell
  • Big backyard
  • Hibernation
  • Buffering
  • Agoraphobia
Please note that these are the synonyms that people are using as a slang or humorously or colloquially. These terms do not perfectly reflect the meaning of social distancing in context of an epidemic.
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