Until just a few months ago I was unfamiliar with the concept of “social distancing.” Throughout my life I have lived by the principle of staying away from most people, but only recently has this been the culturally acceptable, and in some places enforceable, norm. But now, we all know what this means. For the safety of ourselves and others we need to keep our distance because, even if we don’t know that we are, we can spread a virus that has the potential to do real damage!

What has been interesting to see is how we have collectively responded to the calls for distancing:

We think through our potential interactions making sure that they will be safe and that we have taken every precaution to prevent the spread of the virus.

We only go places that are “essential”. We cannot avoid all contact with others, but we only do so when that contact will provide value.

We recognize that there are some in our community who need help and do our best to provide that help. Caring for others has now become something expected because “we are all in this together.”

For the first time in a long time, families are spending time together for more than just a few minutes a day. While this has created friction at times, most are working through it and have started playing games, going on walks and, of all things, talking to each other!

Even though I fully understand not everything connected to our national quarantine is positive, this time of government-imposed isolation has caused us to look more seriously at the things we do and the reasons we do them. Social distancing is not all bad and has produced some good.

The one area in all of this virus hysteria that we have gotten closer instead of further away is in the area of Social Media. Less work and fewer recreational options mean that we are now spending more time than ever before meeting and talking and arguing and worrying virtually! It’s crazy how tools can be used for so much good, such as the various social media sites, while at the same time bring about so much bad. Healthy one-on-one interaction can be extremely positive but, as we are experiencing right now, it can also spread things that are unhealthy and have the potential to do great harm. It may be time we add some “Social Media Distancing!” In much the same way, if we are not careful, virtual connection can:

Encourage us OR bring about fear

Inform OR mislead us

Draw us closer together OR drive us further apart

Give hope OR cause anxiety, panic, and depression

Social media is neither good or bad but can become either depending on how we use it. For our own sanity in these already difficult times, we need to institute some “distancing”:

Think through each of your online interactions before they happen to ensure that they will be safe for everyone and will prevent the spread of the virus’ of fear, anxiety, panic, depression, ridicule, and dissension.

Only go to those places that add value to your life if you are consuming and to others if you are producing. Avoid contact with those that can hurt you.

Recognize that there are many in our community who need help (physically), are afraid and isolated, or need a reason to be hopeful. Use your interactions to help others because “we are all in this together.”

Invest in relationships and use the circumstance that we all find ourselves in as an excuse to reach out to those with whom you would not otherwise connect.

We are all familiar with the concept of “Social Distancing” because it has become necessary, at least for a little while, to eliminate something bad for the health of those who live in our communities. During this time, try to apply the same rules, a kind of “Social Media Distancing”, in your online life so that you don’t simply trade a physical virus for one that damages relationships, perspectives, and hope.