Social Distancing: Dream or Nightmare?

September 25, 2020 19 Comments

Social Distancing: Dream or Nightmare?

A few months ago, we started hearing the phrase “social distancing” for the first time. Then, we put on our first masks to venture into the suddenly hostile grocery store, feeling like bank robbers and wondering if this is what Walking Dead characters feel like when they have to make supply runs in the Zombie-induced apocalypse.

We learned to navigate Zoom (or at least, we tried.) We built toilet paper towers. We stopped wearing pants. Some of us gravely missed our social lives; some of us basked in the relief of solitude. 

Social distancing has been deemed the “Introvert’s Paradise” by many. There we sit, sipping on our quarantinis, smugly watching our extroverted acquaintances implode via social media, cackling with laughter as we consider our options for finally taking over the world, bragging that we knew how to bake bread this whole time and confessing that we stopped wearing pants a long time ago, waaaay before it was the cool, trendy thing to do. 

That poses the questions: has social distancing been a nightmare, or the ultimate dream?

It depends on who you ask.

Despite the fact that many aspects of our lives are opening back up after several months of quarantines and stay-at-home-orders, social distancing as a practice seems to mostly remain a fixture in many of our lives. Social distancing commandments such as “stay 6 feet apart” have become so ingrained, that even when watching Netlix, I find myself panicking and thinking, “Those people are way too close together! OMG coronavirus though!!” 


The overarching assumption is that social distancing has been the bane of the extrovert’s existence — and a boon to the introvert. While social butterflies might be celebrating the re-opening of the world by clinking glasses at outdoor-seating bars (some of which have been so crammed with starved-for-attention guests that some restaurants had to close again because they were unable to quell the extroverted uprising against social distance protocols), others may be lamenting the re-ignited social pressures that they were happy to go without these past few months.

For the introvert, quarantine eased the shame and guilt of always leaving the party early, of consistently turning down social plans in exchange for the company of a good book, or for opting for take-out and a Netflix binge with the cat on the lap over making small talk at yet another potluck.  


On the other hand, for extroverts — people who feel energized by being around others and who thrive in large social gatherings — quarantine might literally have been the stuff of nightmares.


 Though it’s easy to make light of the alleged downward spiral of the isolated extrovert, it’s important to keep in mind that many of our extroverted friends might actually NOT be okay during times like these. 


Memes urging everyone to “check on your extroverted friends!” sprung up in droves, in addition to an abundance of “how-to” guides, written by introverts in an effort to help their more outward acquaintances navigate staying at home in isolation.

 

Even for your standard recluse, isolation isn’t necessarily “business as usual.” And for some, being quarantined isn’t a refreshing dream staycation after all — many introverts must contend with having their peace and quiet stolen from them on account of being stuck at home with others 24/7. 

 

Turns out, isolation is kryptonite to people with all sorts of social temperaments. 

 

But for some, being free from social pressures was, and remains, the dream. 







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