CDC Recommendations Updated to Include Emotional Distancing
March 19, 2020
The US government has just released a new set of emotional distancing recommendations to help stem the tide of new coronavirus infections.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control, announced the new guidelines at a press briefing Thursday afternoon.
“To limit the rate of new COVID-19 infections, we are now strongly encouraging all Americans to implement a few simple practices, such as avoiding direct eye contact and pretending not to hear loved ones when they are talking to you.”
Dr. Redfield spent the rest of the briefing outlining several of the new guidelines, but declined to answer any questions from the press.
One of the simplest and most effective of the new measures? Avoid replying to text messages in a timely manner.
“Best is not to respond at all,” said Dr. Redfield. “But if a reply is absolutely necessary, limit it to a single word. And remember to always use correct capitalization and punctuation in your texts.”
Dr. Redfield also recommended not responding to any emails from friends or family.
“Especially if they’ve been sitting around for a month or longer,” said Dr. Redfield. “Just smash that archive button.”
Several of the new measures pertain specifically to high-risk populations, such as the elderly. The recommendations, now available on the CDC’s website, include a reminder that isn’t your Aunt Fran is sitting in a nursing home, and doesn’t she have one of those super depressing illnesses, like Parkinson’s or whatever?
“Even though we’re pretty sure you have her number written down somewhere,” Dr. Redfield continued, “your country is depending on you to not to call her – even if doing so might help alleviate her deep existential dread and profound life-weariness for one brief precious moment.”
“Maybe stream something on Netflix instead?” suggested the CDC director with a shrug. “I hear that Love Is Blind show is pretty fun.”
The guidelines explain how older generations can likewise create effective emotional distance with younger ones. For instance, several studies of Upper East Side families suggest that parents can induce a “pay it forward” effect in their children. In other words, kids with emotionally distant parents are better positioned to practice emotional distancing in their own children.
After citing this evidence, Dr. Redfield offered an impassioned plea to parents:
“Please consider idly critiquing your child’s appearance, choice of friends, self-expression of identity – any of their life choices, really. Even something as simple as saying, ‘Oh, you didn’t want a salad?’ when ordering out can make a huge difference.”
In an aside anticipating concerns around the use of social media, Dr. Redfield categorically denied the notion that the internet does anything to strengthen emotional connections between people. “Seriously, knock yourself out with Facebook,” he said.
Near the end of the briefing, Dr. Redfield addressed the politically charged matter of whether you should specially reach out to your friend Alex, who recently lost a grandfather to COVID-19. The CDC director warned strongly against this action, noting that virtually all experts agree the two of you would make such an obviously perfect match, if only you’d open your damn eyes to it.
“And whatever you do, please refrain from talking about that camping trip you took four summers ago,” Dr. Redfield implored. “You know the one.”
Dr. Redfield concluded his briefing by encouraging Americans everywhere to practice maintaining a stony expression whenever confronted by emotional vulnerability in another human being, anywhere, under any circumstance.
He suggested casting a blank stare for at least thirty seconds, approximately the time it takes to hum the first verse of The Sound of Silence.
“But, like, don’t hum the song out loud. Or actually, maybe you should. That’d be pretty creepy, right? Like something a sociopath would do.”
Dr. Redfield paused momentarily before concluding the briefing: “That’s the question we all need to be asking ourselves now. What would a sociopath do? Whatever your answer to that question is, that’s what you should be doing.”