Keeping safe during the pandemic does not necessarily mean having to not be social in-person. Some people are creating social bubbles with which to ride out the next few months. It is a way for people to be social while still maintaining social distancing, and it can help as the country seeks to slowly re-open.
"Bubble" is one term for the groups that are being formed; however, it is not the only one. Other words that have been used to describe these intentional social groupings have included cohort, pod, squad, and even "quaranteam." What unites all of these groups regardless of name, however, is that they help people to maintain mental health by socializing while limiting the risk of exposure to the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2-- the virus responsible for COVID-19.
Having a social bubble can be a great way to help prevent the spread of the virus. Creating this circle of people to allow for in-human interaction requires establishing some rules, though. These are necessary to help make sure that everyone involved can be both happy and healthy. This can mean taking a hard look at what one really wants in a group-- and what one does not.
One thing to consider when establishing a social bubble is size. While these groups can range in size, the goal is to limit the number of people. The more people, the more potential for the virus to be brought into the group. Although what works for a group can vary quite a bit, a good rule of thumb is no more than 10 people in the social bubble.
Another thing to consider is the trustworthiness of those who are included. Free spirited sorts may be great to hang out with at a party or a nightclub, but that relaxed personality may be a bad choice when it comes to being part of a pandemic social bubble. It is important to be able to trust every member of the group to follow the rules, because the safety of the entire group depends on it.
Social interactions need to be limited to the agreed-upon social bubble. Otherwise, there is the danger of introducing the coronavirus into the group. This is something that everyone in the group needs to understand and agree to; this goes again back to the issue of trustworthiness.
There also needs to be a plan for isolating people if the need arises. If sharing living quarters, that means having at least one room where an ill member can stay without risking infecting others in the group. Of course, given the risk of virus spread before symptoms appear, there should also be the realization that if one person in the group becomes ill it is likely that others in the bubble have been exposed.
Another important consideration is how people within the group complement each other. How do the personalities and skills of individuals work together? What resources does each member bring to the group? This could mean anything from having a great personal library to a backyard swimming pool.
How the bubble is set up depends on individual circumstances. For some, it may mean two families joined together; this may be an especially appealing option for those with minor children. Other bubbles may be made up of singles, couples, or some combination thereof.
Living arrangements can vary greatly by social bubble as well. In some cases, this may mean people moving in together. This may be easier for singles than for families, and it certainly is dependent on resources and the willingness to share. For instance, co-housing for a group of people is generally easier in a 3,000-square foot house than in a 500-square foot apartment.
A social bubble can also provide more than just social engagement. Whether sharing a living space or not, it may offer the opportunity to share responsibilities throughout the group. That can mean doing things such as taking turns cooking meals, working together gardening, or teaming up to tackle cleaning common areas. This willingness to work together is something that needs to be factored in when forming the social bubble, of course. Resentment can build within a group if the bulk of responsibility falls to certain people while others do little or nothing by the way of work.
Togetherness is a key element of the social bubble. That means for those with boyfriends or girlfriends, this is the time to share living space. It also means that singles should not be venturing out to find a mate; instead, online dating is a viable option for continuing to look for someone without risking their health.
Through steps such as the creation of social bubbles, some level of normalcy can be had even as society battles its way back from the pandemic. It can also help to decrease the likelihood of a second wave of the virus.