Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois 1911–2010



Physical vs Social distancing

What's the difference between physical & social distancing? Please leave a comment!

Why 'physical distancing' is better than 'social distancing'

Experts laud WHO move to use physical distancing, saying social distancing or isolation isn't good for mental wellbeing.

by , 30 Mar 2020

A number of measures can be taken to increase physical space between people and check the pandemic [Getty Images]
A number of measures can be taken to increase physical space between people and check the pandemic [Getty Images]

The World Health Organization (WHO) has started using the phrase "physical distancing" instead of "social distancing" as a way to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus from people to people, a move widely welcomed by experts as a step in the "right direction".

At a daily news briefing on March 20, officials of the global health body said while maintaining a physical distance was "absolutely essential" amid the global pandemic, "it does not mean that socially we have to disconnect from our loved ones, from our family."

The rapid spread of the virus, which was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December, has forced countries around the world to impose full lockdowns, shut down airports and impose tight restrictions on the movement of their citizens.

"Technology, right now, has advanced so greatly that we can keep connected in many ways without actually physically being in the same room or physically being in the same space with people," WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said on March 20.

"We're changing to say physical distance and that's on purpose because we want people to still remain connected," she added.

Since coronavirus is spread mainly through respiratory droplets, especially when people cough or sneeze, maintaining a safe distance is recommended to decrease transmission.

The WHO recommends being more than one metre (three feet) away from the nearest person, while some health experts have suggested maintaining a distance of at least two metres from others.

corona social cards

A number of measures can be taken to increase the physical space between people.

They include staying home more often, working from home if possible, catching up with loved ones online instead of in person, strictly limiting the number of visitors to your home, avoiding large public gatherings or public transport, and staying away from other people when you are in a public space.

"Social distancing makes it sound like people should stop communicating with one another, while instead we should be preserving as much community as we can even while we keep our physical distance from one another," Jeremy Freese, professor of sociology at Stanford University in the United States, told Al Jazeera.

"We need to do physical distancing to protect everyone's physical wellbeing, but mental wellbeing is obviously also important, and social isolation is not good for mental wellbeing," he added.

Martin W Bauer, professor of social psychology and research methodology at London School of Economics, welcomed WHO's change in terminology, saying it was "long overdue".

"It occurred to me from the beginning that this was an unfortunate choice of language to talk about 'social distance', when actually what was meant was 'physical distance,'" Bauer told Al Jazeera.

"Physical distance is measured in metric metres or centimetres. It is the geographical distance from person A to person B while 'social distance' is a measure of distance across social boundaries," he explained.

Bauer said it was important to differentiate between the two terms.

"It is good that WHO finally tried to correct an early error of mistaking physical distance for social distance," he said.

"In these strange times of the virus, we want clear physical distance (minimum two metres), but at the same time, we want people to remain close to each other 'socially'."



Edward Hopper: Reflect on the following paintings

Edward Hopper

"If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint"

Reflect on these paintings and leave a comment on the emotions they arise!



the art of Edward Hopper: a setting of the coronavirus age?

Read the article! Do you agree with the connection? Please leave a comment!

'We are all Edward Hopper paintings now': is he the artist of the coronavirus age?

With his deserted cityscapes and isolated figures, the US painter captured the loneliness and alienation of modern life. But the pandemic has given his work a terrifying new significance

Eerie echoes … Edward Hopper’s Cape Cod Morning, 1950.
Eerie echoes … Edward Hopper’s Cape Cod Morning, 1950. Photograph: Alamy

Who can fail to have been moved by all the images of people on their doorsteps clapping for the NHS last night? They filled TV screens and news websites, presenting a warming picture of solidarity in enforced solitude – all alone yet all together. But there are some far less reassuring images circulating on social media. Some people are saying we now all exist inside an Edward Hopper painting. It doesn’t seem to matter which one.

I assume this is because we are coldly distanced from each other, sitting at our lonely windows overlooking an eerily empty city, like the woman perched on her bed in Morning Sun, or the other looking out of a bay window in Cape Cod Morning.

“We are all Edward Hopper paintings now,” according to a WhatsApp compilation of Hopper scenes: a woman alone in a deserted cinema, a man bereft in his modern apartment, a lonely shop worker and people sitting far apart at tables for one in a diner. As is the way with memes, it’s hard to tell if this is a serious comment or a glib joke with a side order of self-pity.

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, painting, 1942
Coldly distanced … Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, 1942. Photograph: Alamy

But let’s take it seriously. If we really are all Edward Hopper paintings now, a crisis of loneliness is impending that may be one of the most fraught social consequences of Covid-19. The loss of direct human contact we’re agreeing to may be catastrophic. This, at least, is what Hopper shows us. This painter born in New York state in 1882 made solitude his life’s work. In the 1920s, while F Scott Fitzgerald was chronicling the party animals of the jazz age, he painted people who looked as if they had never been invited to a party in their lives.

Modern life is unfriendly in the extreme for Hopper. It doesn’t take a pandemic to isolate his poor souls. Cold plate-glass windows, towering urban buildings where everyone lives in self-contained apartments, gas stations in the middle of nowhere – the fabric of modern cities and landscapes is for him a machine that churns out solitude. Nor do his people find much to do with themselves.

In older art, being alone has its benefits. In paintings titled Saint Jerome in His Study, a scholarly hermit looks perfectly at ease in his well-designed home office with his books, his cool desk – and his pet lion. In another way, the Romantic out for a walk in Caspar David Friedrich’s painting The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog actively seeks splendid isolation so he can absorb sublime nature without human disturbance. He’s happy by himself – terrifyingly so.

Edward Hopper - Morning Sun, painting, 1952
Atomised individuals … Edward Hopper’s Morning Sun, 1952. Photograph: Alamy

But it’s not such images of contented or chosen solitude that are being shared today. It’s Hopper’s horrors – and that isn’t too strong a word. One of the painter’s biggest fans was Alfred Hitchcock, who famously based the Bates mansion in Psycho on a Hopper painting of a strange old house isolated by a railroad.

We all hope to defy Hopper’s terrifying vision of alienated, atomised individuals and instead survive as a community. But, ironically, we have to do that by staying apart and it may be cruelly dishonest – the empty propaganda of the virus war – to pretend everyone is perfectly OK at home.

For the message of Hopper is that modern life can be very lonely. His people are as isolated among others in a diner or restaurant as they are at their apartment windows. In this he is typical of modernist art. Edvard Munch had already shown in his nightmarish Evening on Karl Johan Street that a crowd can be a very isolating place to be.

Today, we’re simply better at hiding the isolation that these artists thought defined the modern condition. In normal times, we sit alone in cafes, too, except we’ve now got mobile phones to make us feel social. The fact is that modernity throws masses of people into urban lifestyles that are totally cut off from the gregariousness that was once the norm.

Edvard Munch, Evening on Karl Johan Street, painting, 1892
Lonely in a crowd … Edvard Munch’s Evening on Karl Johan Street, 1892.
Photograph: Alamy

In pre-industrial times, Bruegel’s scenes of peasant life show a world in which it was practically impossible to be alone. Kitchens are crammed and carnivals a nightmare for anyone practising physical distancing. Looking at Bruegel, you can see why many people in Britain were so reluctant to give up pubs – those last refuges of the Bruegelian past.

We choose modern loneliness because we want to be free. But now the art of Hopper poses a tough question: when the freedoms of modern life are removed, what’s left but loneliness?

Source:    The Guardian (@guardian) | Twitter