The New Normal: Will the World Adjust to A New Way of Living?
Coronavirus is now a pandemic and the world will have to seriously rethink the way it has been carrying on until now.
For people who have always been introverts, people who have had jobs that have allowed them to ‘work from home’ or individuals who have survived on the peripheries of social hotspots, the quarantine or self-isolation isn’t something new or something to ‘adjust to’. For them it has always been the ‘normal’.
Ordering food in, using various apps to get groceries, staying in touch via text (even phone calls are troublesome for folks like that) and entertaining themselves via Netflix etc can only panic now if they get too worried about how coronavirus can latch on to the food they order or the items they book on Amazon. As far as the new ‘social life’ mantras are concerned, they aren’t anxious about that at all.
But those of us who have been social butterflies, who thrive on the regular nights out with friends, those whose jobs require them to travel, move around and meet people all the time, those who wouldn’t be caught dead sleeping in on a weekend night are really finding it hard to understand or accept what is going to be the ‘new normal’. At least until they develop a strong anti-viral drug or an effective vaccine. That won’t be happening for at least another year.
So what happens until then?
Of course the world can’t stay locked down forever so gradually markets, businesses are opening up. Offices and schools will eventually also open up (although schools will remain shut until September) and social distancing and massive sanitization exercises will be a part of the new normal. Long queues, limited gatherings, hygiene checks and no big events as such (graduation ceremonies, proms, parties) will be how we will be living in the near future.
Scientists and health experts can recommend practices to the best of their knowledge and that is fine. But the real question is how many of us can follow? And how many of that can be implemented? Countries like the United Arab Emirates, which are very thorough in their practices and are keeping a strict check on how things are run in the country, are going to follow through. But third world countries such as India, Pakistan etc are already struggling with this. India has a massive migrant worker crises and Pakistan is struggling with enforcing lockdowns.
The best way forward is only if authorities establish strict rules (not quite possible in liberal democracies such as US, UK – especially the United States where there are protests against shutting down beaches!) and people understand their own responsibilities as citizens. The governments, after all, can only do so much. It eventually becomes a personal responsibility to practice social distance – for everyone who can afford to sit at home as much as they can.
Perhaps it would be best to not rush out and party as soon as lockdowns are ‘officially’ over and it would also help if we kept washing our hands and making sure we don’t sneeze and cough on people.
It’s a strange and scary time for everyone and it’s okay to be worried about how the future will be. But if we have the option of staying put and not endangering others, we should take that seriously. Similarly, if we are privileged enough to help out those in need, it would be a good idea to do that too. Community support matters a lot during these times.
The virus is here to stay for a while, even though clinical trials are well on their way and hopefully we’ll get a drug/vaccine sooner rather than later. But the only way we can keep ourselves, our children and our families safe is by understanding the gravity of the situation at hand.