On social distancing


There are strong economic, inertial, and social forces at play keeping people from acknowledging the importance of social distancing. Clubs, coffee shops, movie/stage theaters are still open because they have to wait for govt order to close… twitter.com/mims/status/12…

… and it’s common for individuals to put their faith in those institutions to decide for them. If Retail Business X is open, it must be ok to go, right? They wouldn’t “sell” an unsafe “product,” right?

I’ve canceled a trip and several events (eating the pre-paid cost of some arrangements), gave up going out to movies and restaurants, and set up working from home, cooking at home. And I hate it. I hate it as much as you do. It’s costly, it’s uncomfortable, it’s different.

I want to go out for coffee and movies more now than I did before, now that it’s ethically restricted. I even catch myself justifying it by saying low attendance makes it safer, supporting businesses makes it imperative, etc. I want to hoard public engagements.

But being a disease vector risks death and disability for me, my family, people I care about, people I don’t care about, young and old. It’s hard to get toilet paper? It’s going to be hard getting hospital care. You won’t need to catch the virus to die from it.

This is an opportunity where small actions can make a big difference. We can prevent millions of deaths with temporary lifestyle adjustments. These adjustments will come at great economic and social cost, but if we all bear just a little bit of the burden, we can get to the end.

To all the individuals and businesses where these changes are a threat to your livelihood—many of my favorite things and people are in this category!—I support and would personally donate to public and private relief funds to carry you through this.

To my beloved stage theater productions, I will give you all my money if I have to, but please close. Don’t encourage people to come to the theater at this time just to get their money’s worth on some tickets. Tours: don’t just do some shows and not others. Shut down, go home.

Isolation starves disease. It’s how we win. We can still get groceries and supplies, there’s plenty of clean water, and we can still go outside. Just avoid groups and communal spaces, and put more effort into hygiene. Stay home.

The hardest parts:

  1. This means everyone, not just people in the “hot zones” you hear about on the news. Every region is affected.
  2. This will take months, not weeks. Building immunity—biologically, technologically, economically—will take time. Buckle up, and be ready to help.

(Originally posted to Twitter on March 15, 2020. It received 2 likes.)