Is “social distancing” socially distant? It depends.

I’m attending a webinar, organized by The Economist and sponsored by Onfido. The webinar’s title is “A whole new (contactless) world: The rise of digital identity.”

The keynote interview just finished, and the interviewee was Anne Chow of AT&T Business.

In the course of the interview, Chow observed that she does not care for the term “social distancing,” and would prefer to use the term “physical distancing.” She noted that our social links are what are keeping us together as we are distant from each other.

However, this is more or less true depending upon who you are. Some people are just fine or mostly fine with electronic interactions with coworkers and others, while others are truly bothered by it.

For example, there are those who are comfortable with Zoom and Teams and Meet and WebEx and all of the other conferencing platforms, as well as asynchronous communications methods (including old fashioned email).

Then there are others. For example, some people refuse to use telehealth and insist on seeing physical doctors, and refuse to use phone trees and start pressing “0” the first chance they get. (And some of them don’t like absentee ballots, but that’s a different issue.)

And it doesn’t matter how good the technologies get, whether you’re talking about 5G (or 6G or 7G), Internet of Things, or Edge Computing. It won’t be the same.

So how do we construct a hybrid world that allows those who need physical interaction to co-exist with those who do not?

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