The Privileges of Social Distancing

Written by Ally Yager

As COVID-19 sweeps the globe, countless numbers of healthcare workers toil for hours on end, dedicating themselves entirely to curing sick patients and being there for those who are in need. Their contributions are endless and their devotion is unwavering, so obviously most people have been in perpetual gratitude for these professionals. In order to keep everybody healthy, the vast majority of governments around the world have issued orders for self-isolation and social distancing in order to flatten the curve of the virus. Naturally, there are still a few people who are unable to follow through with these crucial measures, going out to see friends and completely disregarding the caution of world leaders. Many of these people are wealthy, young, and have either a carefree or completely ignorant way of going about. So I’m here to tell you (in case you haven’t heard already in the form of social media posts) please stay home unless it’s absolutely imperative that you go out.

Ultimately, social distancing is a privilege. Saying that you have parents who can work from home or parents whose income won’t be drastically affected by this crisis makes you more fortunate than many. Those who have lost their jobs and those who have to continue going out to work in order to make a living are significantly more disadvantaged because the United States is almost entirely dependent upon the top 20 percent catering to the economy and doesn’t give a second thought to those in poverty struggling to make ends meet. I could ramble on about my “eat the rich!” mentality for ages, but the point is that if you can’t social distance and you or your family members need to make money, that’s completely fine. But for those who still think it’s cute to break internationally established rules and go hang out with your friends, don’t be selfish.

A commonly made argument against social distancing is that people don’t care about their own health because they are young, able-bodied and perfectly okay with catching what they see as a non-threatening, flu-like sickness. I shouldn’t have to explain what should be common knowledge, but ventilators are a luxury! Hospitals are packed to the brim. Staff members are overworked, and in Italy, doctors are having to choose between who lives and dies. If you were to get coronavirus, your entire family would be at risk. Anyone in your household who has a weaker immune system and potential prior health concerns would have a much more difficult time fighting the virus than you would. And of course, COVID-19 comes with the terrifying reality that symptoms don’t present themselves right away. You and your family could have gone to the store to buy groceries, been a little lax about personal hygiene and infected several people without knowing it. You may not care if you have the virus, but think about the people in your life whose lives are indefinitely at risk, in addition to strangers’ lives. 

It’s so incredibly difficult to spend such a long time away from friends and to feel trapped in your house all day, but please do your best to limit social interactions with anybody who doesn’t live with you. It’s been immensely challenging to go each day without having my friends to rely on, but the sooner we take social distancing seriously, the sooner everything will go back to normal. It’s time to stop acting like a self-centered teenager and take the entirety of humanity into account.