Social distancing has been an essential part of restricting the spread of the novel coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19.
In a nutshell, social distancing means minimizing physical contact with other individuals in an attempt to reduce the spread of the highly contagious infection. There have been warnings against physical contact with big groups of people; people have also been advised to restrict contact with the elderly and people who suffer from health conditions that may put them at a higher risk of complications, and in some cases death, if they contract the virus.
The objective of social distancing is to reduce the probability of contact between persons carrying the infection and others who are not. Minimizing contact will reduce transmission of the virus, morbidity, and, ultimately, mortality.
But social distancing in an Arab home isn't how you would imagine it to be.
One key element of social distancing is staying at home. And if all members of that home haven't been mingling with other humans, then the house can be considered under quarantine.
I'm going to go with the above scenario (as opposed to the one where not all members are self-isolating at home, which makes it nearly impossible to social distance because, well, personal space is kind of nonexistent in this sphere) in the below rant.
You've been hearing of people complaining about feeling isolated and lonely as they're under quarantine. But you just can't relate. When your home consists of Arab humans wandering around, that feeling of isolation most probably doesn't exist. And it's probably because Arab parents and siblings don't understand the concept of leaving you alone.
So let's say you're just sitting on your bed, staring at the four walls around you with earphones on, living in your own little world ... someone will come knocking on your door every few minutes. Guaranteed.
It's either your sibling asking for a charger, an electronic extension, your laptop (although they have one) ... or your parent asking for the TV remote, help with some technological device, or claiming it's time for you to eat.
No matter what your answer is to the latter, you're bound to be met with another knock on your door ... only to find one of your parents holding a plate of fruits, a cup of juice, a homemade man2ooshe, a bowl of soup, and riz b haleeb. You didn't ask for something to eat but an Arab home with parents resembles a food factory ... and they are the machines.
Let's say one of your biggest pet peeves is when a family member walks into your room without knocking. To avoid getting angry every time it happens, you decide to sit amongst members of your family. Would that make any difference? Not really.
Imagine this scenario: you're minding your own business but while in the presence of other people. So, you decide to watch Netflix on your laptop - not even on the shared TV - with your earphones on so you won't bother anyone. Then suddenly your mom, dad or sibling (or all of them combined) starts talking to you every three minutes of some update they saw on the news, new Twitter account, Instagram ... or WhatsApp. As for your mother, most of the time it's something she received on WhatsApp.
So you'll end up having to repeat an episode of a show you've been waiting to watch for quite some time. And even upon repetition, your Netflix time will be interrupted. But it's not just about getting through a show without being interrupted. It's about the constant reminder that you're NOT alone that makes you want to be alone, even if it's just for three minutes.
If you're on your phone, you'll be told to get up and do something useful. If you get up to do something useful, you'll be interrupted all throughout the process. If you decide to hide away in the bathroom (because it seems like your only safe haven), you'll get asked if you're OK a few times before you come out. If you say no to food, then you're exposing yourself to hour-long lectures about how you're hurting your immunity. And if you're minding your own business in your room, you're told that you're antisocial.
It seems as though there is no escape in an Arab home. Whether you're looking for alone time or for physical space from other humans (or food), it's just not possible. And so the birth of many fights and arguments arise due to the frustration that has been building up for days. Or rants like this one.
On the bright side, though, at least you have some people to keep you company during these difficult times, despite all the frustration. So keep that in mind the next time someone barges into your room without knocking.