The World We Knew
COVID-19 is likely to be one of the most fascinating social experiments we will experience in our lifetime, as not only, is this virus attacking our health but is also testing one's sanity. This pandemic is causing many to face new challenges, re-evaluate their priorities and question leaders.
First of all, no one knows what is going on, even the people who are advising the government are basically just guessing the best course of action. For example, after months of testing and millions of research, we know that the virus is highly contagious but we don't know how contagious.
Let's talk about the infected, well we believe that there are various strains of the virus as it seems to be manifesting differently in people. Though it is thought that there have been 4.64 million people infected, it's likely a vast percentage of people uncounted for as they believed it was nothing more than the flu. A recent Stanford Study have argued that this is nothing more than a common cold, as the percentage of deaths is between 5% to 10%. However, the New York Times released an article on whether we are accurately tracking the death toll as there might be over 74,000 deaths uncounted for, and debates the different toll the deaths are taking on the countries.
This relates to my main point of no one knows what the f*** is going on, everyone is scared, no one knows what to do and conflicting results are being released daily. This is a global issue which will not be mended overnight, nor will be helped by countries pointing blame at one and another.
So what is next? Now that the phases have begun as we try to return to a state of normalcy we are all excited, however for now, and the foreseeable future, there is no stability on whether or when our life will return to normal. For some, like the older generation and people with physical conditions, they will have to stay isolated for much longer until there is a solution to this pandemic. If we look at what happened after for example the Spanish Flu, which caused a vast amount more of deaths and had no reliable test or treatments, caused many significant changes like a baby boom or the distancing from modern medicine. After 9/11, one of the most recognised terrorist attacks, we saw a drastic change in travel and security, bringing fear to a population like never before due to the potential of another attack.
“It seemed to me there was this huge hole in our collective memory about the worst disaster of the 20th Century. It’s definitely not remembered in the same way as the two world wars – there is some different way we remember pandemics..." - Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World by Laura Spinney
Before the lockdown happened, studies of the effect of social media and devices had on people suggested that we are less united than before, as though we are more connected than ever, we are somehow extremely isolated from each other. In Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff, he argues how "we are essentially social creature, and we achieve our greatest aspirations when we work together... Yet today society is threatened by a vast antihuman infrastructure that undermines our ability to connect". Although I do agree in many ways, that social media and devices have negatively effected human connections, as at times it feels as though it is not worth the experience unless everyone else sees. Currently, I am sticking to my phone like never before, as it is the only way I am communicating with others.
The effect isolation is having on societies mental health is something that I believe may affect generations to come. Though we have the chance to communicate through Facetime and other applications, we are missing real human contacted. This can cause anything from depression, or severe isolation, we seek company in others as it fulfils our biological need to be social. Social connections between peers when young is extremely important, child psychology has extensive research into the importance of social interaction for the developing mind, as a child learns most about what it is to be human by those around them. So what will happen to the development of young children who have had to isolate due to COVID-19? Will they lack in social skills in the future?
Some other questions to consider are:
Will this pandemic change our view towards healthcare? Is it possible that this is what Nurses and Doctors needed to get the recognition they deserve?
How is travel going to change? As there will always be the possibility now of transporting germs from one country to the other.
What will this do for Millennials in the middle of college? Will businesses suffer due to students who finished their courses online.
We can not put our lives on pause for a year, so will there be repercussions from missing important milestones?
Will there always be a fear of contact?
What will people in the Hospitality and Tourist industry do? As their jobs relay on people traveling and interacting.
Unfortunately, no one has the answers. All we can do is ponder about the change we will see, but from looking at past global instances like the Spanish Flu and 9/11, the world before lockdown and the one waiting for us after will likely be very different.