Crisis communication

Social distancing is an oxymoron

By 27th March 2020 No Comments

In the wake of the corona pandemic, governments and authorities worldwide call for social distancing to help stop spread the virus. But we can – and should – be social at a distance, especially right now.

What authorities mean when they call for “social distancing” is to avoid physical interaction. We know that of course, but the semantics are important here. Historian, Philosopher and best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari made this very clear in Time Magazine just the other day. 

”Many people blame the coronavirus epidemic on globalisation, and say that the only way to prevent more such outbreaks is to de-globalise the world. Build walls, restrict travel, reduce trade. However, while short-term quarantine is essential to stop epidemics, long-term isolationism will lead to economic collapse without offering any real protection against infectious diseases. Just the opposite. The real antidote to epidemic is not segregation, but rather cooperation.”

What Harari shows us with utmost clarity is that cooperation, transparency and trust (between world leaders, countries and individuals) is the best cure for the ongoing pandemic. 

Right now, avoiding physical contact is a way to stop the spread, but at the same time – and in the long run – we need to come closer. Culturally, intellectually and socially. We, as human beings, must rebel against leadership who wants to close borders, keep secrets and point fingers, says Harari.

Today, humanity faces an acute crisis not only due to the coronavirus, but also due to the lack of trust between humans. To defeat an epidemic, people need to trust scientific experts, citizens need to trust public authorities, and countries need to trust each other.

Right now, creative people all over the world are finding new solutions to work together, communicate and help out. New initiatives spread just as fast as the virus itself, and that is a cure for the infectious idea that globalisation is spreading the coronavirus.