Social Distancing and/or Emotional Distancing

By now, you’ve probably heard the term Social Distancing. Look it up here: www.cidrap.umn.edu

When I first heard the term my immediate thought was we have socially distanced ourselves for years. Well, maybe its just me.Taking such a broad mental swipe at this term without delving into its particular application now took me down paths of emotional, not physical, separation.

My aim is not to minimize the Covid-19 reality. We all need to pay close attention to directives and at the same time remain calm. Prayers and precautions will bode well as the professionals keep digging for solutions. What I’m wondering is how much social distancing will change our emotional distance.

Numerous studies, blog posts, and professionals reveal the distancing, isolating, and detaching emotional effect of social media. Now that’s a loaded sentence. Might our screens save us from spreading this new virus? Will skipping down the Skyping lane alter the quality of our connections? Will our diminished proximity change much of anything? I sure hope so!

I say this because my social media footprint diminished over the past few years. I distanced myself. The constant contact, all the likes, swipes, and emoji droplets seemed to cut my soul down to data points and comparisons thereof.

I’ll be perfectly clear, I am not a professional. I am not a doctor or scientist or counselor. I am a creative with an active imagination. My thoughts get away from me sometimes like a dog breaking its leash and sprinting toward a squirrel.

Nevertheless, thoughts are thoughts, and if it were possible, a cup of coffee and conversation on emotional distancing is a better solution than this old blog. Some eye-contact and body language between sips and syllables might bring a more wholehearted dialogue—six feet apart of course.

For now the only virus between us might be encrypted between these lines. So, a blabber blogging we go, eh?

Emotional distancing came to the front of my mind when I heard about empty stadiums and a postponed writer’s conference. What’s the big deal about the social element of it? Tucked into the social aspects of face to face, shoulder to shoulder connection is emotional attachment. This leads to thoughts of Reactive Attachment disorder (RAD).

Ours is a house of adoption, and as the number of additions rose, the reality of RAD rose to the surface. It’s a thing, just like social distancing is a thing. The short definition of RAD is the inability to form healthy emotional bonds with others. It’s like signaling another to come close and when they do, you stiff arm them. “Come here…that’s close enough.”

Emotional distancing is more subtle than what the health officials are advising concerning the Covid-19.

As RAD showed up in our children’s lives I became aware of my own RAD tendencies. It’s a manifestation of a virus. The virus of intimacy. “Into me see” as someone aptly coined. We all want to be seen on different levels. Yet we don’t. The game of hide and seek began a long time ago.

“Adam, where are you?” Genesis 3:9

Before that question, Adam and Eve were quite okay with skin as their only clothing; The epitome of social and emotional proximity. Then the cover-up was inaugurated. Did you know there are over seven hundred varieties of fig leaves?

Hiding places are innumerable. This century with all its fingertip knowledge dispensers, and screens depicting images of every imagination is comparable to “water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.” Many have succumbed to techno-Tarzans swinging from vine to vine, deeper and deeper into the jungle of social media until no evidence of the sun hits the soil. With a loincloth flapping and lion claws flailing, humanity shrinks into the morass of social media without touching anyone. Sorry. Saw a squirrel.

All I’m saying is the blue light of our screens doesn’t give us the vitamin D we need.

Touchscreens aren’t the same as holding a hand, kissing a cheek, or letting body language fill in the blanks of a conversation.

I pray as we distance ourselves physically, we will feel the emotional separation. These are strange times indeed, hopefully not estranged. I pray our hearts will grow fonder, and when we draw close again our humanity will be on its best behavior.

I pray as our bodies isolate, our hearts will be insulated by the love of God.

God help us, and be near to us on all levels. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to socially immerse himself with us to end our social and emotional separation from You. Amen.

Psalm 145:8

2 thoughts on “Social Distancing and/or Emotional Distancing

  1. I get all the social distance I want slogging through the bush collecting copious amounts of maple sap and turning it into liquid gold. Inadvertent social distance. No time for much else these days.

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