Distance Learning

A rant:

I was going to ask for a little restraint, but on reflection, I don’t think there’s any of it in stock these days.

Specifically, I was hoping we could avoid developing herds of self-appointed distance monitors.

Yes, social distancing is necessary. Absolutely no argument from me on that.

But demanding that people move is not the way to get it done. Humans are contrary creatures. “You have to move,” or “Hey, you, six feet!” just make the recipient want to move closer, strictly out of spite.

It’s in the presentation.

Try “Could you please move a further away?” That’s not so hard to say, now is it?

Or, if you’re in a place of business, just pointing to the tape marks on the floor will probably get the job done–and if there aren’t tape marks, say something to the staff, don’t excoriate your fellow customers!

Because, let’s face it, most people don’t have a clear mental picture of what six feet is. (Hint: your foot is probably not a foot long, and even if it is, you’ve never seen six of ’em heel to toe.)

I have a pet theory that many people, if asked to estimate six feet, say to themselves, “Well, I’m a few inches shorter than six feet, so it’s a bit longer than I am tall.” Then they picture themselves lying down, think, “Ew, this floor is filthy, I don’t want to lie on it,” and completely forget to add the necessary inches to turn five-foot-something into six feet.

All that aside, though–and taking the whole flies/honey thing as given–the possibility for escalation is scary. Because moderation and restraint are, as previously noted, in short supply.

These days it’s a small step from admonishing a random stranger to move a aside to demanding they clear off “your” sidewalk, then to calling the cops on someone you think is too close. After that, the weapons come out, and we have a whole different class of virus-related deaths.

Again, yes to social distancing. But remember that “seventy-two inches” is an arbitrary distance chosen for a number of reasons, not all of which have any grounding in virology.

The whole point of social distancing is to not crowd together, to not loiter near other people.

It is not to get in people’s face in the name of getting them out of your personal space.

3 thoughts on “Distance Learning

  1. It’s hard to not get into people’s faces. This particular phenomenon has taken on a partisan aspect, and there are people who just won’t. You see it on Tik-Tok and Instagram everywhere–the tantrums, the refusals–happened at a Vons market a few blocks from our house. Quite the spectacle–one woman, when a clerk asked her to please where a mask, went all banshee and began squirting from a nearby bottle of hairspray or something (a couple of bystanders physically dragged her out).

    Patience may be in short supply, but self-entitlement sure isn’t. I tend to just back off or move myself. Yes, I’m a coward, but a fed-up one. Thanks for the post, though. Nice to know that my nephew has sensibilities–but I’ve always known that.

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    • I’m beginning to suspect that patience and self-entitlement are related in the same way as matter and energy: the total amount available is fixed, so the more of one there is, the less of the other. It would certainly explain why there’s so little of the former now that the quantities of the latter are at an all-time high.

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