With a worldwide health crisis at hand, it’s understandable to lose our calm every now and then. As apocalyptic as the situation may seem right now, we’ve got to believe that we’ll get through this together. The whole world is equally involved in the fight against this disease, and so should our personal selves be. But what exactly do we have control over as individuals in the society? Well, turns out, we individually influence quite a bit – when it comes to controlling the spread of this deadly virus.
Social distancing is one major tool at hand, but you’ve surely heard enough about it already. While that topic can’t be ignored, this article will also discuss another aspect of individual responsibility in this worrisome situation. We’re talking about social etiquette, and how it could go a long way in maintaining desirable social behavior and rules that are supposed to establish dignity, respect and morality.
In the current scenario, the same good etiquettes you were taught as a child may come off as downright ignorant. For example, introducing yourself with a firm handshake was widely encouraged behavior. Not right now though, is it? This calls for us to be reminded of a revised form of social etiquette that works in the best interest of societal morality.
Why Social Distancing is Important
Firstly, let’s discuss the single best thing you could personally do to potentially ‘save the world’ singlehandedly. Yes, that’s social distancing. You’ve heard tons of celebrities and people talk about it, to the point that you might not take it seriously anymore, but it really is that impactful. Even one single person’s strict social distancing could translate into an exponential decrease in the spread of this disease, hence lowering the curve.
Handshakes and hugs for greetings are literally lethal right now. Not just for the two people involved, but for thousands of people the effects could potentially spread out to. This is true for several reasons;
- There’s absolutely no way of knowing whether you’re shaking hands with an infected person, as symptoms could take as long as 2 weeks to show up.
- Germs get transferred to and from each person’s hands, and as soon as they come in contact with the person’s own face, there’s a direct risk of catching the virus.
- The person could eat or drink with the same contaminated hand minutes later, which results in infection if one of the parties was infected.
- The effects get multiplied throughout the neighborhood, city, or even country as the virus grows exponentially. Remember, it all started from a small town in Wuhan and now has the entire globe in its jaws.
7 Etiquettes to Have During Social Distancing
1. Six feet apart
While not intruding personal space, people don’t consciously stand six feet apart in public places. However, maintaining a distance of 3 feet just isn’t enough. A safe bet would be to do yourself, and everyone else around you a favor, by standing at least six feet apart. It’s hard to start practicing that, as being at an arm’s length from a handshake has become a default setting engraved into the back of our minds.
While you shouldn’t be getting out of the house in the first place, there are some guidelines to follow when you absolutely need to go out. In public places, people could catch the virus just through the germ droplets we emit by breathing. Studies suggest though, these droplets don’t seem to travel further than 6 feet. This makes it imperative for us to maintain at least that bit of distance when speaking to people or just being in a crowded place.
2. Mask? No mask?
Initially, WHO’s answer to this question had been no. They believed masks should only be worn by those infected, medical staff, and people with symptoms, to ensure availability to those who need it. However, that’s not the standard guideline anymore. Citizens are advised to use masks whenever they leave their houses. The WHO itself has released an opposite statement, claiming that they’ve certainly seen several scenarios where the use of any type of mask could help in defending oneself against the virus.
3. Fist bumps aren’t ideal either
To give people a viable replacement of the international greeting of handshaking, fist bumps have been promoted by several online movements. Well, they might not be as risky as handshakes when it comes to spreading germs, but they aren’t totally idea either. Though, if someone offers you one, you should be fine in giving on in return if you’re comfortable with it. However, it would be good social etiquette right now to avoid initiating absolutely any sort of skin-to-skin contact, as minimal as it may be.
4. Take a number, stand in line, be respectful
Whenever you get out of your house at this time, remember that it’s not just an ordinary day out. Be more mindful, know that you’re on an active mission to come safely back home without bringing any harmful germs along with you. But that doesn’t just apply to you, it’s a two-way process. You’ve got to understand that other people are out on the same mission too, and you’ve got to respect the rules of businesses and shop owners to ensure both you and them remain as safe as possible.
If they’re checking everybody’s temperatures before entry, cooperate patiently. If there are long queues with a distance of six feet between people, pick and number and wait. In some cases, you may even be asked to place an order form and leave it within designated markers. As extreme as any of it sounds, just cooperate, it’s all for the benefit of society – fall in line, and be cooperative!
5. Don’t delay or put off quarantining yourself and family members
It could take over 2 weeks for this virus to fully show its effect in full, so if someone you share a space with shows symptoms, you could very well be infected without even knowing it. You may feel perfect, being ever so carefree in your dwellings, while spreading infecting germs all over the apartment for others to be exposed to. To prevent this, make sure you quarantine yourself strictly. It’s hard, but health always comes first, especially when it concerns the people you love and value the most. It’s just two weeks!
6. Refuse offered handshakes with utmost politeness
It could be much more courteous to refuse a handshake with the other person’s safety in mind, rather than your own. If someone you know comes up to you and extends their hand, here’s a non-offensive response to turn it down;
“I’m sure I’m okay, but I wouldn’t want to risk passing the virus on to you.”
Phrasing it this way doesn’t embarrass the other party, but leaves them with a positive feeling of you consciously caring for them.
7. Keep your hands in your pockets while you greet people
In any other scenario, without a worldwide pandemic spreading fast, greeting others with hands in your pockets would be defiantly ignorant social behavior. But, it’s possibly the best move you can pull for everyone’s safety given the current situation. It prevents people from extending their hands to you. Make sure you make up for it by a heartfelt smile or healthy eye contact though. Until it all passes, this sort of greeting is the new best etiquette.
What To Do if the Person Near Me is Not Being Considerate?
No matter how hard the Government or all sorts of influencers stress the importance of the matter at hand, some people still won’t be as considerate as they should be. It’s either because of an utter lack of knowledge of what’s the right or wrong sort of behavior in circumstances like these, or the complete disregard of personal and social responsibility.
The best thing you could do for yourself and for the people around you is to make such people more aware of the seriousness of this virus. You could simply get away from them and ignore them entirely, but talking to them from a safe distance about their actions and consequences would be better for everyone. Politely touch the topic of the guidelines you heard on TV, and how you agree with the significance of individual responsibilities in conditions like these. Hopefully, they’ll understand, but if not, you’ve done your part.
Small Acts to be Kind to People Around
1. Give your ill friends stuff to look forward to
Mental health is just as important as physical health, never forget that. While the impact of loneliness and boredom at home for long periods of time may not be seen physically, they could still take a serious toll on one’s mental state. It all gets even worse if a person is sick, as they’re stuck in the moment without much hope to feel better. To counter this, give your ill friend a call and make plans with them for when this nightmare ends! It’ll instantly show them a flicker of the light at the end of the tunnel, and you might just make their day. Suggest stuff that you know they’d enjoy, it could go a long way!
2. Be an amazing neighbor
If a near relative or neighboring individual is affected by the flu, you’ve got the chance to be their knight in shining armor. Offer them a trip to the grocery store if they need something, cook them their favorite food, or pick-up some takeaway in these delivery-less depressing times. When we’re sick, even the littlest acts of kindness have an amplified effect on making us feel cared for and loved. They won’t have the energy to cook for themselves, but it might just be an easy 20-minute job for you! You don’t have to expose yourself to any germs either if you maintain a safe distance and follow the recommended guidelines.
3. Call/Text anyone you know living in an area of outbreak without close friends
If they fall sick, they'd be there without absolutely any help. It's scary to even think of a situation like that, so just checking on people you could go a long way in helping people out in need. You could end up being their only lifeline if they really are in a condition like that.
Social distancing is one major tool to take individual action against this virus. But, this article has also discussed another aspect of individual responsibility amidst the spread of COVID-19. It's the importance of social etiquette, and how it could go a long way in maintaining desirable social behavior that's supposed to establish dignity, respect, and morality.
In the current scenario, the same good etiquettes we were taught as a child may come off as downright ignorant. For example, introducing ourselves with a firm handshake was encouraged, but not anymore. This calls for us to be reminded of a revised form of social etiquette that works in the best interest of society. We hope you took away valuable insight from this article. Be safe!