It’s clear that our society is rattled right now with the panic caused by COVID-19. All of our lives are changing rapidly, which inevitably creates a lot of fear and anxiety. The good news is, we have a solution! 

Social distancing.

It’s not the solution we want, but it’s the quickest way to get our lives back to normal. Social distancing is hard because it goes against our societal structure and our instincts as human beings; we are social creatures and thus we crave personal intimacy and interactions. We gather in times of celebration and mourning, as well as in everyday activities like eating and learning. Having this essential piece of our identity taken away so suddenly, by something we don’t even fully understand, is incomprehensible for us. 

Right now though, social distancing is extremely necessary and will be necessary for the weeks and potentially months to come. However, just because we need to limit our physical interactions with others doesn’t mean that we have to emotionally distance ourselves. With access to modern technology, it has never been easier for us to talk to and see our friends and family without leaving our homes. Think about how often you Snapchat and text your friends. As a college student, phone calls and FaceTimes have taken on a new meaning of love and commitment to someone. Our devices allow us to maintain long conversations while watching TV or eating dinner. Now more than ever, checking up on friends and family via the internet is vital to maintaining emotional connections and stability.

It’s still hard for me to grasp the situation unfolding around us, but I’m thankful for the resources I have that will allow me to continue talking to my friends. Of course nothing can replace physical closeness, but for now texting and FaceTime is an excellent substitute until the virus runs its course. You can make plans to watch the same movie as friends or cook meals with friends over video calls. You can still send each other funny videos and memes and play virtual games with each other (think cup pong on iMessage). Have fun with planning all of the things you’ll do once the virus dies down and we’re allowed to travel and gather again.

Meanwhile, when you’re not virtually hanging out with friends, take this as an opportunity to reset, relax, and do the things you haven’t had time to. We know our lives will have to resume eventually, so make the most of this change of pace. Find a new Netflix show and binge without regret. Go on long walks to all of the podcasts on your list and start that home workout challenge. Cook extravagant meals, read critically acclaimed books, and clean out that closet that you’ve been meaning to for years. Encourage your friends to do the same! Keep each other’s morale high and time will pass like never before.

By practicing social distancing, we truly are protecting those more at risk from the virus, such as your grandparents, older professors, or immunocompromised friends. We are also helping to flatten the curve so that we can all go back to our normal lives as soon as possible. In the end, we must remember that this is only a temporary and honestly fascinating blip in our lives. The COVID-19 outbreak of 2020 will be studied like it was a world war or international disaster, and we will be the primary resources for researchers in the future. In the words of Persian poetry, “this too shall pass,” and we will come out stronger and more unified because of it. 

Cover Photo: Bustle