As the world slowly starts to re-open it’s societal doors, and letting people get back out there to work and play, many begin to wonder: Will things be different from now on? Whenever something global happens, and humanity bands together, we learn something from that experience. Collectively, we come out a little differently. A little bit, though. But in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been thoughts of drastic changes.
A New Age Society
The belief is that not only will individual behavior possibly alter, but also societal interactions and operations. Let’s imagine what the media is trying to paint: The New Normal for Civilization. A world where daily human interaction is not as close. Handshakes might be replaced by things such as elbow taps, perhaps fist bumps or a friendly wave. Our personal spaces expand even larger, that not only pushes strangers away but maybe even family and friends. Trust is a little less, as we don’t know who could possibly be infected or a carrier (since the virus isn’t technically gone yet). The distancing practices stay in place for the most part when people are out and about. It might decrease from 6 feet, however people will noticeably make an effort to avoid close contact. Businesses will offer delivery, and more will work from home. And public events will see less attendance. That’s just a glimpse at what a ‘new normal’ might look like, but let’s take a more realistic look.
Can’t Shake Old Habits
Now this isn’t to say some of the new habits won’t stick around for a while, however for media to say that humans will change to and maintain new patterns and behavior is a bit outrageous; and I’m not even using my psych education to say that. Humans are creatures of habit since the dawn of early existence. We still hunt animals to provide as food, we still protect and hold onto our little patch of land, and we still tend to stick together with other friendly faces. A more modern approach is that back in the mid-1900s, people thought smoking was cool. It wouldn’t be until many years later did research show that it isn’t good for one’s health, but even to this day there are plenty of people still smoking. An even sadder one is racism, as it’s still present in our society. It may not be as hostile as it once was in the past, but there have been signs of it’s presence whether direct or subconsciously. A good modern take of it can be seen in the movie Crash.
These are examples that have taken decades, or more, to address and attempt to change. So why do people think this window of a few months being stuck at home will change daily human living so much once the world resumes to spin? Again I should emphasize the purpose of this post is to not question whether we should or should not change due to this pandemic, rather observe the more possible reality of how people will be once things are okay.
For many places across the globe, the doors are beginning to re-open. Businesses can start to have some people come in, grocery stores are removing the limits on purchases, and people can start to roam the streets. While some protocols like wearing masks, staying physically distant, and keeping places at certain capacities are being issued, people are showing signs that any talk of ‘new normal’ will only be just talk. Two examples include many people in Spain getting the chance to exercise, while people in Texas are running to the beach as soon as it opened. Hundreds, if not thousands, are already tossing aside avoidance of large group gatherings to enjoy the sun and act as if life was truly normal again. That is one of the reasons it is hard to foresee a new way of living when people are so quick to resume the old, comfortable way.
Worlds Will Collide
However, I did say that as of now there will be a blend of both the life we’re accustomed to as well as the new, cautious version we’ve adapted to. While there have been examples of people quickly acting normal, and gathering in groups, business will not be as usual. Unlike our recreations and hobbies, work still must take precautions and safety measure will still be in place. This isn’t just to avoid risk of re-spread, but also potential lawsuits for endangering employees and customers. So some people will continue working from home, while others (like restaurants) will continue offerings services like curbside pickup and delivery. Meetings may take place in offices again, but Zoom will probably stay a popular choice going forward to save time. However, business is usually made in person (unless you’re Amazon) and for small businesses they cannot wait to re-open their doors. Public event businesses like festivals, sporting events, and concerts might still be cancelled for a while or they may do it with much smaller crowds or no crowds at all; like what the WWE is doing. But depending on how this initial wave of people going out turns out, we may be able to enjoy attending big public functions sooner rather than later.
While human contact may stay intact with friends and family, like hugs and kisses, that could change with people were not as familiar with. Whether seeing a stranger, a doctor, or client or someone else it may just be a simple wave to say hello. It ties into our comfort zone and personal space, as people might noticeably still try to avoid too much contact with others. For things like dates it may be that way in the beginning, however we are “intimate” beings and so contact might get closer once feelings get more intense. Trust will take some time, though, as mentioned we don’t know who is a carrier and who’s very infected. Some may still keep 6 feet or more away, while others relax their boundaries and act as if all is well. Regardless if rules are in place, there will be plenty of people rocking the masks and gloves now for their own safety. It all varies for each person, and one other thing.
Contingent On Two Things
Again, it depends on people themselves and how they want to live their lives. But it also hinges on government, as they are dictating how society restarts and what limitations there will be. While some countries and states me be more loose on restrictions, others might still be stern on their policies and waiting longer to re-open. Some places are starting to step outside, while other countries are waiting till mid-May or later to do so. They decide the businesses and event practices, and what we are to wear. But this will be during the initial phase, for as we go into Summer months like July and August, it should be more in our control as to what we do.
I once posted that humans can be stubborn creatures, but also overcompensate for things like shopping for supplies. As we get deeper into re-acclimation, you’ll start to see the ones who are still being very cautious and the ones who were very eager to resume normal life. There will be those who quickly throw away the masks, shake hands, hug and be close to others. Meanwhile, some will still wear masks every time they go out as we head into late Summer. You’ll enjoy being at a coffee shop with friends laughing, only to see some people noticeably walk much farther around you to avoid contact. At movie theaters, people will try to find seats away from others. Even in public restrooms, there might be people waiting rather than doing their business next to others. A part of you might even catch yourself in one of these situations, and be asking why are they acting like this given that the virus is/isn’t gone.
Again we’re not looking at if we should keep the changes or go back, or if it’s right that we should maintain precautions or go back to normalcy. This is simply looking at what has happened, what is happening now that we’re starting to go out, and what most likely will happen months from now. While some people are very conservative, and will continue to do things that we’ve been doing for the past few months, the majority of the people have quickly returned to almost normal living based on stories linked here and others that show huge gatherings across cities of people happy to be outside among others again. And depending on what research shows us as we mingle with others, this could either speed up or slow down full societal interactions. Everything could be normal in a month or so, or we could be where we are now. We won’t know until we try, and see what happens.
But some will maintain the quarantine habits heading forward, many will be stubborn (I don’t say this in a negative way actually) and resume the ‘old normal’ we’re all accustomed to. Because, as I mentioned it takes us a long time to change habits. If it’s a comfortable habit, especially societal like daily living and mingling with others, that will be the most difficult to change whether attempted by media or government. Right now the media might reference a new norm, but soon they might shift to stories of people hugging again for the first time in months as the old, regular norm returns. Will it be long though is the question as viruses, whether common or rare like this, tend to reappear in the later part of the year. But if this virus does make a reappearance later on in the year, we’ll definitely be ready this time and know what life might be like. For now, as signs point to declining cases, life and it’s economy moves forward and is returning to normal. However, it won’t be a ‘new normal’ for society but our regular ‘normal anew’. . .