Remember how a few months ago people used to go outside and hug and kiss? When strangers used to walk next to you and there was no question of their health? Or even a time before masks were required to walk and do anything? That was March… now it is September, and the world feels like it has been placed in one of those Dystopian fiction novels, where a “new normal” is created and everyone is expected to accept it.
By coining this period of time as a “new normal”, people are accepting all of these restrictions and rules as regular, as if a global pandemic is not occurring. It’s almost as if people are in denial by accepting isolation, uncertainty and a loss of control in terms of the introduction of the virus. Instead of being in denial, people need to accept how uncomfortable this situation is for everyone, and even though there is enough sadness in the world right now, calling the future the “new normal” is not mentally healthy or completely accurate either.
As a student living on campus this semester, everything has changed. I live alone in an apartment on campus and I never see people in my hallway, as compared to my last two years at the university when the hallways were constantly busy with noise and passing people, and the buildings were always busy with activity. When I walk on campus, I need to wear a mask at all times and I need to walk six feet apart from other people. Being on campus, I typically do not see many people, as compared to the crowds of students that used to be walking in every direction. The Union has tables with one seat, the outside seating on campus has been reduced in half, the lecture halls have seats spread out and marked and almost all my classes are online. This means that when I wake up every day, I no longer have to walk to class or leave my room, and there is much less schedule to my day. When off campus, walking into a store or restaurant has changed into arrows lining the ground and circles six feet apart. And like many other people, due to everything changing, I have not worked since March.
Lets not forget that half the world is offline…87% of people use the internet… and in the less developed world, only 19% of people use the internet.
People are unsettled, destabilized and alone, but that is only until a vaccine is found and the virus is contained. Attempting to predict the future by saying things will never be the same again and saying that the future is going to be a continuation of this “new normal” is not good for the morale of society, including the mental health of everyone living through this pandemic. At the same time, this “new normal” promises solely virtual engagements which is not good for learning how to interact with others and can cause people to feel very lonely. Lets not forget that half the world is offline, so this cannot drag on for years and become a regular routine since in the developed world, 87% of people use the internet, and in the less developed world, only 19% of people use the internet.
And, in order to isolate and social distance, people need to have the means to purchase personal equipment and have a home to quarantine in, which means that this “new normal” ignores the inequalities people face today.
I can accept that these past few months can be constituted as a “new normal,” but it is not something that can drag into the future. This will not become a reality for years from now because of the loneliness, denial and inequality the phrase presents. For now, we as a society have agreed upon rules and restrictions, but there will come a time in the near future when this “new normal” will only become a thing of the past.
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