Issue 2
Monday, 06 April 2020
Charles Darwin University
Associate Lecturer in Social Work Tufel Musyadad communicating safely
Associate Lecturer in Social Work Tufel Musyadad communicating safely

‘Social isolation’ a misnomer

The term “social distancing” is a misnomer according to CDU Associate Lecturer in Social Work Tufel Musyadad. He said he was concerned that the government’s terminology was causing unnecessary confusion and alarm.

“Governments and social media are using the term ‘social distancing’ when what they really mean is ‘physical distancing’,” Mr Musyadad said.

“The message isn’t right and people are getting confused.”

Current social distancing guidelines in place to guard against the spread of COVID-19 require 1.5 metres of healthy distance between people, or 4 square metres (2m x 2m) per person in an enclosed space.

“The term social distancing is disturbing because it suggests we need to be socially and emotionally isolated, which can lead to panic,” Mr Musyadad said.

“What the government really means is physical distancing.”

According to Mr Musyadad a good comparison is the concept of personal space or non-contact sport.

“During COVID-19 socialising needs to be a non-contact sport,” he said.

“It’s like when we are driving, we need to keep a safe distance between our car and the next for our own protection and to protect the people around us.”

According to Mr Musyadad the lack of physical contact will impact the most on people living alone. However, in the Northern Territory it is possible to remain socially connected, meet up with family and friends, chat and enjoy each other’s company.

“This is not social isolation,” Mr Musyadad said.

“Even if people do need to quarantine, they can still remain socially connected.”

Around the country, people have been getting creative with no-touch greetings such as the foot-shake. Social media and online learning platforms also offer plenty of social interaction and enjoyment.