Tag Archives: physical distancing

Social Distancing, Public Shaming: What’s A Blogger To Do?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten a dozen or so emails about an important topic. They say things like:

  • “My neighbors let their kids ride bikes and play together in the driveway. They’re all very close together, and the parents don’t seem mind at all. In fact they’re there too, chatting away.”
  • “There was a party down the street yesterday. Teenagers drove over, parked, and went out in back. Here is a photo of the cars.”
  • “People on our road walk every day, with no social distancing at all. It’s the same people, all the time.”

The emails all urge me to write something. And they all end the same way: Please don’t use my name.

Neighbors on Sylvan Road North practice social distancing. (Photo/Nancy Breakstone)

I write back. I say I am happy to post something, but first I need to know: What did you say to them? How did they react?

That’s an important part of anything I’d write: Not just what seems like a disregard for important social norms (and laws), but the story behind it.

Did the neighbor say, “Oh my god. I’m so sorry. It’s just so hard with the kids at home all day, and my husband out of work. I thought just this once I’d give them a treat. But you’re right. Thanks for saying something. It absolutely won’t happen again.”

Or did he say, “Screw you. No one can tell me how to live my life.”

These are the types of photos readers ask me to post. Always anonymously.

Did someone respond, “Yes, we had 3 people over. But they all stayed 15 feet apart — not 6. We asked one not to come, because someone in their house was quarantined. And we made sure the only things they touched were the chairs they sat in.”

Or did someone else respond, “Well, if you walked the right way facing traffic, I wouldn’t have to pass you?”

The reactions of Westporters to requests to comply with the coronavirus rules is as important an element of the story these folks want me to write as the actions themselves.

But when I ask those questions, I never hear back.

This type of teenage gathering has drawn praise — and criticism. (Photo/Kimberly Paris)

I understand the request for anonymity. This is a small town. It’s hard to stand up publicly for what’s right (though we always tell our kids to do it).

What I don’t understand is the unwillingness of people to stand up in the moment — but to then want me to call out others for it.

It’s clear many Westporters are practicing strict physical distancing — and taking it seriously. It’s clear too that some Westporters aren’t.

So what’s the solution, blog-wise? Should “06880” be the repository for my-neighbor-did-this-and-I-want-everyone-to-know stories? Or should people contact me only after they’ve already made their views known, face to face (or at least via email or text)?

I welcome your thoughts. Please click “Comments” below. Be civil. And — of course — use your full, real name.

More social distancing: grandparents stay away. (Photo courtesy of Bob Weingarten)