I am certain by now you have heard the term social distancing or seen the hashtag #socialdistancing. If you are not aware, the concept of social distancing is to keep 2 meters or 6 feet away from anyone else so as not to spread COVID-19. Some of you reading this are doing it, and there are some who are not at all. It seems this is a crucial act in stop spreading the virus.
I would implore you all, do not do social distancing. The term “social distancing” does not really explain what health professionals want us to do, and you are already seeing a shift in messaging. What everyone in the world needs to be doing is “Physical Distancing”. This is the key. The social part, as in being close to love ones, via technology or through face to face communication at a safe distance is still allowed. This is a crucial distinction.
As someone in the community space a long time, and as most community builders know, loneliness is a huge thing which online communities help to reduce. We use community to bring people together. The concept of social distance is anathema to our cause. I ask everyone who reads this to promote the wording of “physical distancing” instead, it’s really important to stop the spread of the disease for us to keep 2 meters or 6 feet away people. The more we do it, the faster we can end all the restrictions on us as soon as possible. However, we should not stop reaching out to friends, loved ones, colleagues, neighbors and friends to see how they are. This would be disastrous for our society.
One thing I do every morning is to reach out to my network, of friends, family and peers to check in on them. I spend about an hour, each day different people asking them if they need to talk, or email or chat. I am also using the tool calendly so anyone in my circles of trust can set a time that works for them to chat. It’s allowed me to scale up this offering as best as I can.
Now, I know as a community person, this can be very draining, so please please please take your self-care seriously. I like to do mediation every morning - a practice I have been doing for a long time. It’s nothing complicated. I sit in silence, to rest and center myself. I think of all the things I am grateful for, and I visualize a successful day ahead. I know some people keep a journal and write down things everyday. Others I know are going for long walks in the woods at lunch. I am also using a lot of mindfulness tactics that Christina shared with us earlier this year in a webinar - please check it out it’s really useful. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you give yourself some “you time”.
I also want to applaud all the online forum administrators and community builders for their hard work. They are enabling people to express themselves, and this is so crucial right now. Some customers, like Trip Actions have created dedicated forums for Coronavirus, others like Smartsheet, have created a sub forum and a crowd-sourced crisis resource centre for their customers to deal with various business challenges due to COVID-19, while others like Money Savings Experts are creating clear guidelines how the community can support one another. If you see someone doing something truly amazing, I’d love to hear about it, please post them in our comments. We can all use inspiration.
If you haven’t done it by now, make sure your community has a clear message about your COVID-19 policy. This is something impacting your community, and ignoring this fact will be very tone deaf. It’s okay to restrict such conversations in your community and explain why you are - and I would also link to what your company is doing.
This is also a hard time for many community builders in your life too. Their stress level may be increasing as more and more executives are now paying attention to their work in ways they only dreamed of - but not in the circumstances we find ourselves in. Take time today to check in on the community builders you know at your fave hang out spaces and ask how they are doing or how you can help. We are all in this together.
I’d also like to share this really great article I read recently on talking to your loved ones who are not convinced about the importance of physical distancing. I found it really helpful in explaining the importance of it.
Finally, if you’d like to chat about your response or need advice, my Linkedin is open to your messages. Please don’t be shy to reach out. Stay safe everyone, wash those hands and keep up the physical distancing.