Don’t They Mean Physical Distancing?

Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious health crisis, and it’s the most serious health crisis I’ve lived through my entire life, but I was confused at first. Not sure how the phrase started, but the CDC in the U.S. said we must practice social distancing. I mean, I’ve been practicing social distancing more or less my entire life.

Cats are inherently socially distant.

At every store or venue, the 6-foot rule applies. We have to follow the guidelines to flatten the curve. But isn’t that physical distancing? Whether I’m being social or not (and I am sometimes quite social), I still have to be physically distant. Six feet or more. I know measurements, I know concrete guidelines, and I know that some day the physics of physical distances between two points will limit the awesomely low OLTP latencies available in Oracle Exadata X8M-2:

Latency somehow limited by distance and the speed of light I think

But I digress. I can understand physical distances and measurements. And I can even convert 6 feet in the Imperial system to 1.8288 meters in my head. As far as social distance, that’s more abstract and smells of class warfare:

Social distance describes the distance between different groups in society, such as social classrace/ethnicitygender or sexuality. Different groups mix less than members of the same group. It is the measure of nearness or intimacy that an individual or group feels towards another individual or group in a social network or the level of trust one group has for another and the extent of perceived likeness of beliefs.

Words matter, and I’m still not sure who came up with the “social” part of “social distancing”. If anything, with 6 feet or more of physical distancing, we need to be closer socially more than ever, even if it’s over a Zoom meeting or a Google Hangout (yes I still use those!). Getting through this relatively intact depends on it.

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