Things are very uncertain right now. It doesn’t feel like there’s much most of us can do. So, we’re turning to the things that we can do – the things that are in our control. We can be kinder to each other and we can practice social distancing. But what happens when these two efforts are in conflict with each other? What happens when a loved one is not practicing social distancing (or not being very consistent with it)? Is it kind to call out a loved one for their lack of social distancing?
We should call out our loved ones if they’re not social distancing sufficiently. We should be as kind as we can about it, but we should have the uncomfortable conversation.
That doesn’t mean we should call everybody out on this. We don’t need to reprimand every stranger we see. Though, if a stranger is about to come into close physical proximity with us we can (and should) ask them to give us more space. But for the most part, getting frustrated about strangers who aren’t social distancing is largely a futile effort on a personal level.
Calling out our friends and our family members is different from calling out strangers. We have a relationship with our loved ones.We know large parts of their lives and their thinking. W can actually get into it with them. We don’t control the actions of the people who are closest to us, but we might have some sway over what they decide to do. So, when we see or hear that a close friend or family member is ignoring social distancing we should talk to them about it. It might matter to them what we think.
It still feels bad to call people out. It feels gross to openly judge people. But there are times when we should judge each other.
If we tell our friends that we think they need to be better about social distancing, they don’t have to engage with us about it. Hopefully they will. But if they don’t, we have to accept that.
If they do engage with us about it, we can try to explain to them why we think rigorous social distancing is important and we can try to express how much it matters to us. They probably already know why we think it’s important, but it’s worth repeating that side of it incase they don’t know. But more importantly, if we make it clear that their social distancing matters to us, they might opt-in to social distancing because of how much it matters to us, even if they aren’t totally on board with why it’s important.
They might think we’re overreacting, but if they know it really matters to us, they might still be more consistent with their social distancing practices because they care about us.
From a pragmatic standpoint, the outcome is the same – another person practicing better social distancing. Another person helping to reduce the strain on our healthcare system and helping save lives.
So, even though it’s uncomfortable, call out your loved ones if they’re not social distancing sufficiently. Call them out in a way that doesn’t make them feel attacked, if you can. Call them out in a way that lets them know that you love them. Try not to be sanctimonious about it. But say something – in the big picture, it’s the kind thing to do.