Life after Coronavirus

Life after Coronavirus

Coronavirus is rewriting our life, our future and our thoughts. Due to the spread of Coronavirus, we are being forced to change old habits and mundane daily acts, such as avoiding shaking hands and touching each other. While processing the situation, feelings of anxiety and grief are circulating over and over. Emotional repercussions will accompany other long-lasting effects, such as economic ones. They will linger even after the end of this medical emergency, outlasting the life of the virus and affecting our sense of community.

 

Community and feelings

Cultural histories and memories shape our responses to situations. For example, we understand how to react when we feel threatened, and continue to apply what we have learned in new situations. 

Ethnographic studies have shown that past crises are remembered when people experience new crises. The COVID-19 pandemic evokes feelings of “unresolved grief and anger”. 

Similar pandemics have occurred in our history, but the globalised condition of the contemporary world makes this event unique. The models we have to predict the long-term effects are inadequate, even though on a personal level the fear of death and of returning to poverty or a period of hardship is the same. The most profound changes result only from dramatic contingencies that force people to radically re-examine their model of life, and we could benefit from the serious situation to develop revolutionary solutions for everyone.

In a major emergency situation, when a serious event affects an entire population, this will create a highly emotional condition that affects the individual and the community. A wide range of emotions, among which fear prevails can be experienced.

Emotional connections between events are made in sudden and erratic ways and are communicated in different forms.

The emotions we’re experiencing now, which can be connected to past memories and knowledge, might become part of the “emotional vocabulary” through which we understand threatening or dangerous situations. This disaster has already thrown up acts of solidarity and ideas on how we will channel this event to make positive changes.

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There are many examples of the power and strength of the human spirit, such as doctors, nurses, political leaders, and ordinary citizens that are demonstrating day after day resilience, effectiveness, and leadership. This is the exact prove that men and women around the world can prevail in response to this extraordinary trial. Neighbourhoods are reorganizing around local support groups as people instinctively move toward thinking about their immediate community.

Science and politics are giving a lot of attention about the issues of the Coronavirus. Another factor may be just as significant in terms of shaping life under the pandemic: the ways that people will change in light of it.

Changes in how we think, behave and relate to one another — deliberate, unconscious, temporary or permanent — are already coming to define our new normal.

This emergency may have little precedent, but there are certain patterns in how individuals and communities act when pushed into extensive stretches of detachment and threat.

 

Adapting to a life after Coronavirus

Our ability to focus, feel good around others and think about the future, may reduce — with lasting outcomes. But we may also feel the pull of a sense that can activate during periods of widespread risk: a desire to cope by looking out for one’s neighbours, to become the sheriff in town to “save” the situation.

We are capable to adapt to any kind of situation. No matter how bad it is, you can adapt. We have to live our life at the fullest. We all do. We adjust, then we carry on with our life. At this time of crisis, we face two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen accountability. The second one is between nationalist isolations and global solidarity.

Perhaps will the idea of beneficial globalisation that defined the early 21st century change, or perhaps will we come out of this stronger and united.

 

Fear of the stranger

When the Coronavirus outbreak is under control, aversion to strangers or large groups and the threat of infection they could pose might echo in our minds for years. Now, as we are once again attacked by nature and isolated into small communities, our survival instincts are reappearing; but we don’t have to give in. We can overcome this fear.

 

Keep going on through acceptance

We have little control over the forces shaping, and at times threatening, our life. We discovered a new realization: we have no idea how things are going to be tomorrow. As forces beyond our control and understanding dictate our everyday lives, rules and norms may change quickly. We have faced and still are facing loss of control of our’ routine, sense of normalcy, freedom, face-to-face connections and personal associations. 

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Planning tends to be uncertain and short-term. People cultivate moments of joy when peril subsides, realizing it probably won’t last. Violence and disruption remain painful, but at least there is no expectation of normalcy or control to shatter. Pain runs deep, but so does resilience. This is the definition of resilience: adapting and accommodating, rather than resisting to the suffering. 

Travel, business opportunities, even relationships might change and become opportunistic and short-term, caused by the fear of contagion. The threat of disease rarely had occupied so much of our thoughts. Now, almost every newspaper has stories about the Coronavirus pandemic on its front page, radio and TV programmes talk only about the latest death tolls, and, social media platforms are filled with frightening statistics, practical advice or gallows humour.

 

What’s next?

People are concerned about the economic repercussions that will strike all the globe, affected by the containment measure, but there will be deeper fears, regarding how we are going to live the public spaces and the sociality after having experienced the fear of contagion. We thought we had control over everything, but this event reminds us of our vulnerability. There will be lasting repercussions in work, school and human interaction: social distancing, smart working (often causing alienation), thermo scanners, schools and classes divided in sections. Some countries are still looking for plans to adjust, on how to live a life after COVID-19. Someone proposed to divide school between class and home learning, restaurants with social distancing, beaches with plexiglas… These are just some speculations, as time will tell what the truth will end up being..

It is difficult to say anything with certainty now, because the health emergency has made everything unsure, as everything will depend on the evolution of the contagion. Everyone is trying to find new ways to adapt to this new future. For example, companies and startups have developed wearable products, that are engineered to warn if you are too close to someone, and therefore at risk.

And now, to find a way to get back to normal life… but is there even such a thing as normal anymore?

How do you think Coronavirus will affect our day-to-day life? And how about our interactions and our minds? Tell us in the comments below!

 

About the author

Veronica De Biasio

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