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The bearable side of social distancing

The carefree and the cautious, the well-behaved and the morons, they all walk up and down the same pavements (sidewalks if you prefer).

Whoever wrote a book on how people behave when they approach a stranger, needs to add a new chapter.
It could be called the Virus Effect.

Before the pandemics, there used to be a kind of social ballet, especially on narrow lanes. One step to the right, maybe a bit of backtracking, eyes averting direct connection.

At times, so many of us have been fooled by the fellow passer-by's moves (neurons mirroring someone else's neurons , as they do). We would move in the same direction, ending up in an amused half-collision.

Nowadays that benign bumping into each other is not on at all.  Social distancing, or physical distancing rather, has altered pedestrian behaviour.

People scan the approaching human traffic and assess pretty fast if they need to stop, step to the side and wait. A lot depends on how rushed or distracted the other party seems to be.

Waiting has its rewards too. More people than ever have gone past me, smiled and said "thank you". A lot of direct eye contact happened. Gratitude for being kept safe?  Some form of solidarity in difficult circumstances?

Once the Virus is gone, everyone may well go back to old habits. Right now, the smiles make the new politeness an unexpected product of hard times.





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