The Distancing

“The Distancing” is a new category of my blog. At this writing, COVID-19 is a pandemic, with more than 1 million confirmed cases worldwide—of which more than a quarter are in the United States. I have been working remotely for just over two weeks (my last day in the office was March 16, when I was rescuing some houseplants).

Before the pandemic, we were already living in a fractured society with bitter political divisions, rejection of science and expertise, a level of wealth disparity unseen since before the Great Depression (or, some argue, ever in history). This feels like a watershed—when we’re across this line, history will flow in a new direction.

Earlier this week I wrote a post on Facebook, “Notes from Lockdown.” That was not accurate. We are not in lockdown. We are free to leave our homes. There’s some discomfort and imprecision in the use of terms like “isolation” and “quarantine”. I’m not quarantined, or in isolation. I am distancing myself from others. Hence, “The Distancing.”

I acknowledge my own privilege: I am safe, at this moment. I have (relatively) secure employment I can do from anywhere with an Internet connection. I have a supportive work culture, family and social structures, confidence in my skills and those of my loved ones. 700,000 people have lost their jobs in the United States in the past month. I’ll try to keep the whining to a minimum. But I’m going to have stories.