young child with a laptop on lap having a virtual meeting with a family member

Each year, a word or phrase is selected by the American Dialect Society as the word of the year. In previous years, “fake news,” “hashtag,” or “app, ”have made the cut — based on the usage by society at large. Although we are still in the early months of 2020, the phrase physical distancing” is certainly looking like a frontrunner. Physical distancing refers to making changes to our daily routines such as avoiding crowds and non-essential gatherings, avoiding greetings such as handshakes or hugs, and keeping a distance of two metres (six feet) from others as much as possible.

The term “physical distancing” is often used interchangeably with “social distancing;” but authorities like the World Health Organization are mindful of distinguishing between the two. These are stressful times mired with uncertainty and concern; it is important to stay socially connected and support each other while physically separated.

Social media and technology are more prevalent than they’ve ever been. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tiktok, WhatsApp, Hangouts, and others allow us to post, chat, and stay connected. There are message forums on various sites that allow people to share thoughts, ideas and comments. Facetime and Skype allow people to video talk in real time, which means grandkids can show Nana and Papa what they have been working on during their time away from school. There are also many great learning resources online provided by the school board and the Government of Ontario. If you are not connected to the internet and you want to go old school, you can call someone on the phone. (Yes kids, phones can be used for talking and not just texting and games!)

There are so many wonderful stories of kindness and people overcoming adversity. My coworkers and I are humbled by the outpouring of support from the community; we have had people make masks for us, bring in cupcakes and show us many other forms of gratitude. Communities have shown love to workers deemed ‘essential,’ such as first responders, front line workers and those in the food, grocery and service industries. Many family and friends have shared these kinds of stories that they have personally experienced or read about. Unfortunately, there are also people who are spreading misinformation and“fake news” on social media. My suggestion: surround yourself with people who share positive stories, and spend time virtually connecting with those closest to you. As always, take care of yourselves and each other.

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