“Social Distancing” and What That Means to Bendites

By: Madison Chambers

On a beautiful sunny day, mass amounts of people flock to the dusty trails of Bend to enjoy the weather and exercise.

But there is a problem with this flocking, and no, this problem is not limited to the possibility of catching or spreading  Covid-19 virus. Instead, it pertains to the decreasing amounts of friendliness that these trail-goers give to other passerbys. 

While on a much needed walk with my mother, I noticed first-hand how the normally friendly and social Bendites reacted to another person passing them: by turning their heads and ignoring our small waves or “hellos.”

What irked me the most was that I pass these people everyday on my various walks or runs during a typical non-virus day, in which they have no problem with greeting me back. However, during this pandemic, these people blatantly ignore my greetings, choosing to take the term “social distancing” literally.

“I think it would be much better if we stuck to just physical distancing and continued to be friendly and social, it is Bend after all,” said sophomore Kate Wilson.

Bend is a city that is known for being friendly to the people that visit or live in it, so why is that our staple friendliness is limited to the time when Covid-19 wasn’t a global pandemic? 

A simple wave, “hello,” or even a short nod would be an acceptable acknowledgement to give to a passerby on the Bend trails. A positive thing about these greetings is that none of them break the “physical distancing” guidelines and or stop you from remaining the minimum six feet away from another person.

“During a global pandemic, everyone should try and be more connected rather than less connected. Any social interaction is vital in times like these,” said sophomore Ellie Ocel.

Having the mindset that people can’t be social in times like these, especially as the weather warms up, may have a negative impact as many of the people that are now cooped up at home are used to a busy workplace or an interactive school day. Suddenly dropping the social connections that fueled our days flips people’s lives around completely, especially if they craved that interaction during previous non-global pandemic days.

“Social interaction definitely keeps people going throughout their lives so having a sudden switch to isolation could make people feel out-of routine,” Ocel said.

In Bend, being kind to everyone has become a basic social principle. Saying hi to passersby on the trail is a norm, and although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive fluctuations in our lives, kindness should never be sacrificed.

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