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When a Word Doesn’t Fit – Make a New One

I shared this post a week ago on my own blog, but I love the concept and the feeling, thanks to my good buddy, Bob Coates.

Bob’s always been ahead of the times. In fact, 2-3 years ago, after coming home sick after every major convention, he replaced handshakes and bro-hugs with an elbow bump. Within a year, so many of us had picked it up because it just made sense!

Bob is back with another idea and again ahead of his time. In a Facebook post, he wrote:​

I would love for people to change the term from Social Distancing to Physical Distancing. Every time I read or see the first phrase it is like fingernails on a blackboard. We can be social at a physical distance.

Language matters. Social distancing imbues a fully negative connotation and reinforces a negative feeling vs physical distancing, a more friendly way to direct proper safety procedures.

​I don’t know about you, but I like it a lot. The truth is, from a purely social perspective, the pandemic has brought me closer to a lot of people. I’m in touch through social media much more, and between Facebook, email, and the phone, I’m keeping in touch with friends more than the usual 2-3 times a year we’d catch up at a conference.

So Bob, as the James Dean of Linguistic Rebellion, we’re with ya! (And if you have to look up James Dean because you’re not old enough to know who he was, don’t tell me! )