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Face-To-Face Relationships Are As ‘Essential’ To Human Happiness As Jobs

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Social distancing is now the most rigid and punishing orthodoxy of the Western world. Terrified of being labeled “grandma killers,” governors who are baby-stepping their way to reopening their economies are taking pains to assure the public that their phases include millions of six-foot gaps. If some could keep their economies closed all year to suppress COVID-19, one suspects they would.

The neglected problem with social distancing and isolation, aside from the increasingly sketchy scientific justification, is that these rules aren’t just severely affecting the economy; they cram our interactions onto the internet. This two-dimensional substitute can’t capture the fullness of physical reality, much less interpersonal dynamics. All the richness of family and community in the same physical spaces and all the cultural milestones that frame and color our lives were sucked out of our world in a matter of days, with little urgency or seriousness behind the promise of their return.

Some of us have enjoyed unprecedented quality time with our kids and spouses, free from extra work distractions and busy schedules. We’ve called loved ones we haven’t spoken with in months. But these are only silver linings.

Humans simply aren’t designed to live in social isolation long-term, even when they are fortunate enough to start earning paychecks again. The workplace is only one source of human connection among many. Even if all businesses are technically allowed to restart, social distancing and isolation are untenable for the long term. Citizens and local governments should not stand by while the social bonds that make up our communities disintegrate.

I’ve seen dozens of articles on “Phase One” reopenings that either omit the fact that gatherings over a handful of people are limited or strongly........

© The Federalist

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