There is no question, social distancing has changed my friendships. It’s a divisive issue that my relationships were not strong enough to withstand.
I am expecting a little baby boy in July and therefore considered at risk. I have friends and family that are also considered at risk for various reasons. For all these people, the decision to implement social distancing and isolate my family was simple. I stay in for those I love because I couldn’t bear the thought of accidentally hurting someone I care deeply for.
Although the decision was easy to make, the reality of isolation was anything but easy. The days can be overwhelming, filled with stress and uncertainty. But once again, I return to the reason why I’m doing this coupled with the fact I am not the only one, or so I thought, and that gives me strength.
I do not have a large circle of friends, so I assumed the people I am close to would be doing the same. But that has not been the case. Friendships have been divided into those that isolate and those that do not.
The unexpected part of isolation is that I now question the friendships with the people who choose to ignore social distancing. It does not come from a place of judgment; rather I question how that friend can risk hurting others, a sad reality of the pandemic. Perhaps we are much more different than I realized, another sad reality of the pandemic.
They look at me as if I’m a victim of media hype. I look at them, equally perplexed. Some of these friends are simply overconfident. They have an inflated confidence in the ability to avoid the virus. The rest of us may wonder where this attitude stems from — possibly the hand-washing Olympics — but if you continue to go out, there is no magic way to avoid the germs. Inexplicably, these are the ones that insist on socializing with those that isolate. Stay back, daywalkers.
Others have opened their hearts and confided in me that they cannot not sit at home with children. It’s something no one really discussed before now, because how you raise your kids is for the most part a private matter. Except right now, all of our individual choices have the ability to impact many. Mothering is tough on a normal day, but the isolation that comes with staying inside makes it even harder. To these friends, I hope they find their groove and eventually experience the happiness that comes from slowing down with your family.
Yet others claim they go out because it is their fundamental right. They dismiss the risk because they are “exercising freedom” to carry on with business as usual. This isn’t exactly what our forefathers intended in our bill of rights (hello, have you heard of the draft?). Beside how reckless this is, and the fact that it won’t stop until this group is mandated by law to do so or the virus touches someone they love (creating an immediate consequence), if the zombies come, I do not want to be around these individuals who I once considered friends.
And yet I have friends who appear to be enamored by their exceptionalism, something I thought was a characteristic of a younger generation. Hopefully, in hindsight, one of the pandemic’s lessons will be to teach the future generations to think of themselves more as global citizens and act accordingly to solve future world problems.
I don’t think that my friends who are ignoring social distancing are evil or bad people. Perhaps they cannot be motivated by the delayed consequences of their behavior. Similar to delayed satisfaction, except it is a negative consequence for a behavior that comes later. Have your fun now, pay later. To the friends that are ignoring social distance practices, can you imagine being responsible for causing an infection that ended in a death for someone’s grandmother or immunocompromised child?
We are in this together, and we can only get through this together. Consider someone else’s livelihood when you make your choices; don’t be a reason that someone else dies. Because deaths are coming.
Despite our current divide, I deeply hope that when we make it through to the other side, we can all come together again. We can rejoice and forever pay tribute to the brave soldiers at the front lines, the nurses, doctors, first responders, grocery store workers, and many others who battled against our common enemy. Our job isn’t glorious; it’s to sit home and simply be. But one day we can look back on this as a time we came together as a community, flattened the curve, and saved lives.