Social Distancing Diaries

Pandemic Shame.

I’ve been avoiding non-stop news coverage and non-stop news checking since this social distancing mandate began. I check into my twitter list of “important voices” that include a lot of my favorite reporters/journalists. I read the daily newsletters from my NYT and WaPo subscriptions, and I listen to my daily news podcasts. And between those things (which are all updated at different points in the day) I feel like I’m getting an adequate amount of news.

And this is how my social distancing “rules” have been informed. That and my local mandates and shutdowns.

But it seems some people have different exposure to news and recommendations. I’m seeing driveways full of cars in my neighborhood and groups of kids hanging out at the playground together or walking around the neighborhood together. And while part of me thinks, “OH MY GOD THAT IS NOT 6 FEET APART! GO HOME!” the other part of me remembers that I sat in my neighbor’s yard the other night, all of us 6ft apart…thinking that was okay before I read this article that says: NO. IT IS NOT.

Ciminelli said the six-feet rule is for when people need to leave their homes for essential reasons, such as running to the store for groceries, or going on a run or walk for the good of physical and mental health.


I think some of us are getting our “guidelines” from the news but those sources didn’t tell me that 6ft-apart socializing was not recommended. But I know others are probably just watching the behavior in their community and if there’s a yard party going on next door then it seems okay to pop over and say, “Hi!”

This is a stressful time for everyone and if your exposure and interpretation has caused you to not do curbside pickup or not do delivery or not talk at 6ft away from your neighbors…please know that not everyone has that exposure. I kept seeing people saying, “Sitting in your yard 6ft apart is not social distancing!” in these rants on FB but no one was posting any sort of source so I just kinda ignored them, to be honest because I’m just not in the mood for more rants.

But then I saw someone actually shared that article above and I thought, “Oh. Oops.” But come one, our president just said a few days ago he hoped things could open up by Easter and that soundbite went viral and so OF COURSE people are going to start being more relaxed.

I don’t know. My Facebook feed is full of people yelling and saying, “If WE DO NOT ALL ISOLATE THIS WILL LAST LONGER!” and I agree and I’ve been isolating but I did accept an invitation a few nights ago to pop over to my neighbor’s yard for a beer. And I did stop and talk to another neighbor in our respective yards as she updated me on the sale of their house. I *thought* I was still being safe but when I read that article above I see I’m not.

I guess my point is: If you’re going to post rants on Facebook (I mean, is it just me? It’s like the only thing in my Facebook feed.) maybe put a reputable source too? So people don’t just skim it over as a rant? Like…now I’m worried, should I not be doing curbside carryout on Saturdays? Saturdays was always our night to eat out and so now we’re supporting local businesses by just doing carryout on Saturdays instead. And our state/city hasn’t closed that down so I feel like it’s okay. But is it not?

It’s like I said before, we’re all in a constant state of analyzing Pros and Cons and we all have different information and experiences to influence our decisions. I recently saw someone say you should wipe down all of your groceries or even let them sit a few days which I haven’t done for us or for my Mom. But there was no link…so is that a real recommendation from someone or is that just someone’s interpretation of a recommendation?

I don’t know. It can all make you crazy and I’m basically trying to care for three households…mine, my Mom, and my adult child who had his hours cut and so is stressed about money. I’m delivery groceries to everyone and am I making a mistake not recommending they all get wiped down? But if I think like that I’ll start to go crazy, but should I be going crazy?

Don’t get me wrong, I get frustrated when I take my son up to the school track to practice riding his bike with his cast and I see 9 girls all crowded under the bus stop, bikes thrown to the ground, giggle and taking pictures of each other. I want to scream, “THAT IS NOT SOCIAL DISTANCING!” But then I find out that me talking to my neighbors in my yard isn’t either and I feel like an idiot.

Part of me is all, “WE ARE ALL DOING THE BEST WE CAN!” and the other part of me is all, “YOU ARE AN IDIOT, DON’T YOU KNOW WE’RE IN A GLOBAL PANDEMIC?” so I totally get the Facebook rants. I am the queen of rants, but there’s just SO MANY and I’m kinda tuning them all out unless there’s some sort of source attached.

And it’s hard because every country/state/city is recommending different things for their people and so we’re all trying to keep up with what we should be doing locally and maybe we’re just taking advantage of looser regulations and maybe that’s dumb? Like…maybe I shouldn’t be doing carryout on Saturdays at all? Even to support local business? Am I being naive that just because my state still allows it that I should be doing it at all?

I don’t know. I feel like there’s a lot of anger out there towards people not locked up in their homes. I’m leaving 3 times a day to take my Mom’s dog out so maybe I’m a bit defensive worried people think I’m out socializing or what-not. I also grocery shop for several households but I try to do it all in one trip every few days and time it when someone is out of something that is a necessity.

I want to end this with, “We’re all doing our best so lets give some grace,” but I also know that some people are NOT doing their best. Some people are hosting house parties and playdates and I feel like we all know that is wrong. But maybe they don’t? Maybe they barely watch the news? So maybe it’s good to find a way to kindly inform them? And how do we do that in a way that is effective but not angering?

This was just a long rant, I guess. About how hard it is to navigate these times and to not feel like someone is telling you you’re doing something wrong. Maybe I just felt dumb after reading that article about the 6-feet socializing thing and I’m trying to make myself feel better about it.

5 thoughts on “Pandemic Shame.”

  1. I’ve seen several articles like this one that say there is very low risk with either take out or groceries. I’ve also seen the suggestion that if you are worried about take out, use your own dishes instead of the takeout containers. I’ve been washing my hands when I handle groceries or take out containers, but I haven’t been sanitizing everything. As for meeting up to socialize 6 feet apart, I probably would have done it had I had the chance. Now I know not to. Thanks for sharing! Many people are doing their best to figure this out! The information out there is confusing!

  2. First of all, thank you so much for sharing this article. My family has been working hard to follow social distancing guidelines, but I was still coordinating walks with a dear friend of mine — thinking this was OK since we weren’t gathering in anyone’s home and working to stay six feet apart. After reading this, we’ve decided to stop. Our alternative is to still coordinate walks, but talk on the phone while walking solo, so that we’re still spending time together.

    Second, I haven’t read anything from the CDC or FDA that recommends people disinfect or quarantine their groceries. What I am doing — because it’s easy — is wiping down anything plastic before putting it away, and washing my hands thoroughly after trips to the store.

    Third, we’ve also contemplated the idea of carryout/delivery being safe. We’ve done it a couple of times a week so far, but may slow it down and at some point stop altogether.

    Education and grace are needed in abundance these days — along with an understanding that now is not the time to search for loopholes (which apparently is what I was doing).

    Thank you for being a safe place to learn and grow!

  3. Maybe if we had strong leadership and strong guidelines being stated from our leaders, we wouldn’t be so confused. Every state has different guidelines. It’s hard to know what to do. I am frustrated also. I know that I am doing the best I can with the information we have. .

  4. Because my eldest daughter has already survived a life-threatening pneumonia, we have been on lock down for several weeks already now. We have not allowed play dates. We did not allow her to go to school those three days of that week when they cancelled school as of Thursday. We do not go anywhere, which includes the grocery store. We are trying to limit that to once every two weeks if we can manage. We spray every piece of mail with lysol and we don’t order out. I’m just not taking chances.
    Down in Florida, both my stepmother’s parents are in the hospital, her father on a ventilator. I’ll admit that I’ve gotten pretty angry at people I have seen being blase about it all, but then I don’t think leadership at the state or federal level has been clear about what is necessary. The governor’s video message today said “please consider staying at home if you can”. Please consider. Yeah, that’s helpful.

  5. IO read that article, too. What I got from it was dont plan to meet friends and have a coffee hour, but talking to a neighbor for a bit isnt a problem. The stay at home order is not a stay in your house order. The order issued Friday is basically the same as what we had, even though everyone was fussingthat we were behind all the other states. Yesterday I saw aathe Governor of Nevada on a news show. They aSsked him why he waited so long to issue stay at home. He said that we have been under it for 3 weeks already. Now we have called it that and added some enforcement provisions. Same in Alabama. Today the mayor is going to explain how it will be enforced in Huntsville. That should break up the pool hangouts, , parties etc. As to the question of groceries, packages, etc. Bring the food in, unpack, wipe the counter, and wash your hands. Packages delivered. Bring them in, open them, take out contents, break down box for recycling, wipe down where it was sitting, wash your hands. Many health officials have said that is all that is necessary. The 24 hr is a clinical study where they waited until the box was 100 percent not a trace of any virus.

Leave a Reply