Social versus Physical Distancing: Lessons for Brands
In a TED talk a few years ago Susan Pinker a psychologist, author and social science columnist for The Wall Street Journal and former weekly columnist for the Globe and Mail, and the New York Times drew our attention to the secret of living longer citing 2 scientific works.
The 2 studies cited by Susan for her conclusions are the following: a) “Social relationships and mortality risk: A meta-analytic review,” Holt-Lunstad, Julianne, Smith, Timothy R., and Layton, Bradley J, PLOS Medicine, 2010 and b) “Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality,” Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2015. Both these studies were meta-analytical reviews conducted to determine the extent to which social relationships and social isolation influence risk for mortality. They clearly and rightly show that the quality and strength of the social relationships, social integration and social isolation that we experience are key determinants and predictors of premature death.
According to the reviewer of the study Susan Pinker and the researcher Julianne Holt-Lunstad, these are the 10 things we need to do to live long
Indulge in social interaction
Maintain Close Relationship
Take a flu vaccine
Get cardiac rehab
Main a trim a lean figure
Take in clean air
According to the World Health Organization one of the basic protective measures against the new coronavirus is maintaining physical distance. The WHO says we must maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Why? When someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease and a disturbing process of infecting hundreds if not thousands of other persons may follow. However gradual death may occur if you are maintaining social distancing instead of physical distancing.
According to Reuters News The World Health Organization is officially advocating against the phrase “social distancing” and is from here on recommending the phrase “physical distancing” The idea is to clarify that an order to stay at home during the current coronavirus outbreak isn’t about breaking contact with your friends and family — but rather keeping a physical distance to make sure the disease doesn’t spread.
The sentiment was echoed by Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. “I would argue that what we are doing right now is physical distancing, not social distancing,” she said during a town hall today, as quoted by the Dorchester Reporter.
“We are creating physical distance between us to limit the spread of the virus,” she added. “But we should be doing that in the same breath as we are maintaining our social connections and sense of community and common sense of purpose.” Stanford University professor of psychology Jamil Zaki also argued that we should cut it out with all the talk about “social distancing”.
“We should think of this time as ‘physical distancing’ to emphasize that we can remain socially connected even while being apart.” “Social distancing is vital to slowing the spread of COVID-19, but it also pushes against human beings’ fundamental need for connection with one another,” Zaki added.
“Ironically, the same technologies we often blame for tearing apart our social fabric might be our best chance, now, of keeping it together.”
The term social distancing has been made popular by the media and this is not what we need at this time. Brands and individual need to practice physical distancing while encouraging social interaction and close relationship. The WHO has noted that part of what we need to get out of this pandemic is social solidarity and communal support. Connection need not be physical ours is a wired world and a global village.
So how should brands do this? The FMCG companies and others should take a cue from the banks, insurance companies and even schools by reaching out to their customers direct during this critical time. Showing empathy, sharing mini gift items and sharing useful and authentic information at this time could be a nice way of social interaction and close relationship. We should deplore all our social media arsenal (What’s app, Instagram, Face Book, LinkedIn and Podcasting) to create a closer social rapport with our employees, customers and consumers. No to social distancing and yes to physical distancing.
Feel free to share your thoughts and get more on this subject here www.kantar.com/Campaigns/Covid-19-Barometer
Michael Umogun / Lead, Marketing and New Business Kantar Nigeria / 08023117969 / 08090235545