CASSANDRA JENKINS — Physical distance doesn’t always mean social distance

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, May 13, 2020

“Social distancing” is a term coined by government officials to prevent the spread of a contagious disease by maintaining a physical distance between people.

Its overall goal is to reduce the number of times people come into close contact with each other. The term is one we’ve all heard over and over again in the last several months of the coronavirus pandemic.

The term is interchangeable with physical distancing, a much better use for the non-pharmaceutical intervention.

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “social” in many ways: “the interaction of the individual and the group,” “marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associations” and “seeking or enjoying the companionship of others.”

Humans are sociable creatures by nature, and we cannot let a global pandemic change that.

There are many ways to be sociable while maintaining physical distance, the new director of the YMCA of Port Arthur Kevin Pearson said it best.

“I think we are all ready for a little social time,” he said. “We just have to remember to keep that physical distance. I say physical distance because we can be social without being close to each other.”

For example, group exercise classes are sociable marked by companionship with friends or associates.

Once the Zumba kicks on and the music starts to play, people forget that they are 6 feet apart because they are still hearing the laughs and exertions of others.

Although we may stand 6 feet apart in a restaurant, we are still connected by a shared meal, a far-off cheers and the surrounding sounds of every day life.

Neches Brewing Co. owner Tyler Blount is pleading for a little normalcy.

“We just want to feel normal again,” he said. “Coming in to work everyday, to an empty bar with no people, it just doesn’t feel right. Even at a 25 percent capacity and tables 10 feet apart will make this place feel more like home and feel like we are part of the community again.”

Physical distancing does not always equate to social distancing. Our thoughts, our prayers, our hearts, the many laughs and smiles, do not stop with a 6-foot guideline.

Be social again. Post that funny photo. Share that old memory. Start that conversation. Chase that dream. In the end, physical distance will not stop us from living life to the fullest.

We may be 6 feet apart in physical distance, but we are not 6 feet apart in heart or mind.


Cassandra Jenkins is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at