The world is an ever-changing place. Is this news? Absolutely not. It’s always been like this, whether you’ve been a stay-at-home parent or worker or have been doing the 9 to 5 grind for the past decade. But the past six months have certainly changed the world and how we get things done. I was having a conversation with my wife about this, just a few days ago. I had a couple of things planned for my evening and I pointed out how I was taking my time and was in no inherent hurry to get them completed, which would totally be the opposite if this were “pre-COVID.” It got me to thinking about the other things that will begin or have changed.
It’s been almost six months since we were told (here in Saskatchewan, anyway) to self-isolate and stay home. And things have only started to feel normal, despite all the changes in society. Out of all the things that have changed, here are some of the most prominent that I’ve noticed, which may permanently alter society as we know it:
People who work from home have slowed down. What I mean with this, is that many home workers are running on their own schedule, working around their children and taking breaks when they require them. The benefit of this is that you get to spend more time at home with your family and save a bit of money from less gas and vehicle usage, etc… The downside is that some employers are starting to realize they can cut costs by having employees work remotely (which many are fine with) but in some cases are even realizing that the positions in question have become irrelevant and the company can do without them. This will cause an employment paradox, where some jobs will be eliminated and many of the jobs that are usually filled by students and exchange workers may soon be sought by the working class as a whole.
Online schooling may become the new normal. My son is bored. And with good reason! He’s a five-year old boy, and there’s only so much stimulation that our backyard and my menial game skills can provide. He needs the structure and discipline that school provides, as well as the time out of the house to interact with children his own age. These interactions are integral to a child’s proper social development. So the last six months have been particularly rough on Nathan (especially since he ends up driving me crazy when I’m trying to do things) and the return to school can’t come soon enough. But with September closely approaching, people are waiting on bated breath to see if schools will actually re-open and if so, some are wondering if they really want to send their children back in, given that COVID-19 is still a real and active threat. Schools, colleges and universities are beginning to offer amended curriculums through online options in order to begin accommodating people. Although this has been a growing trend in recent decades (my college education was all done online, in fact) home-schooling and online learning may soon become the new normal.
Fitness and home improvement projects are booming. This one is 100% positive and it’s unfortunate that it took a pandemic for it to become a thing. In recent months, while cycling, jogging or even just being out and about for exercise, I’ve noticed an increase in people doing the same. Although public parks have only just started re-opening in Saskatchewan, I’ve been surprised at the number of people in my immediate neighbourhood who seem to have suddenly taken up jogging and cycling that I’d never seen doing so before. I think this goes to show that maybe Japan has the right idea in including an hour of “exercise time” for their corporate employees. If given the chance, many people will begin to increase their level of fitness. Home improvement is another great benefit. We’ve seen our next-door neighbours completely renovate their basement in the past two months, and improve aspects of their back yards. Even I’ve managed to turn my dirt patch into a lush lawn and grow some flowers.
Hospital waits are incredibly short, but rare. I think we can all admit that the wait at a doctor’s office can be long and painful, a point I covered in a post last August entitled Waiting It Out… But recent world events have forced doctors and hospitals to change how they deal with patients. Most things require an initial phone appointment from home. And only after speaking to the patient will a health professional decide if an in-person appointment is mandated. Although this is a good thing (and prevents long, unnecessary wait times in waiting rooms) it can be a problem for appointments for people such as infants or special needs folks who aren’t able to verbally communicate if there’s a problem. I’m not a doctor, so if there’s something wrong with my infant son and the doctor asks me, “Do you have any concerns?” I may be inclined to say no. But he may be able to see something in an actual examination. One benefit is that when you DO have an in-person appointment, they want you in and out of there as fast as possible. My last eye injection appointment was last Monday. I was fifteen minutes early, and this usually still results in finishing almost an hour beyond my scheduled appointment. To jab a needle into each eye! But they had me in and out of there from start to end within a half hour, including the early time. It makes me questions why this aspect wasn’t the norm to start with!
Masks and social distancing are becoming the new norm in Canada. I can easily say that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s well-known that the wearing of face masks has been a prominent part of everyday life in many Asian countries for decades. But even as society starts to relax its grip a bit (which is NOT great idea at this point) face masks and maintaining social distancing is showing no signs of backing down. I’ve always felt that the asshole scrapping my heels in line at the grocery store could stand to give me a bit of space, and now it’s basically an expected requirement. Some people are okay with these requirements. Others like to do what people do and bitch, whine and complain every step of the way. “Oh, I can’t breathe with those masks on…,” “My face is getting all sweaty” and “It’s uncomfortable to wear for long periods.” Grow the hell up! It’s obvious that many of these people have never had to work while wearing military or police equipment, carry heavy fire-fighting equipment up flights of stairs and don’t even get me started on how long our first responders and hospital employees need to be bundled in personal protective equipment and the toll it takes on their bodies.
Online shopping, groceries and take out meals have increased and most people have become more reticent to wander throughout public places, making most locations much quieter and easy to navigate than before. Many people fear that the presence of a constant threat such as COVID-19 may be the new permanent state of the world. And so it may… Certainly there are other illnesses that have been around longer than we care to remember but as with those cases, the world will adapt. With a current death toll of almost 670,000 people world-wide (according to the World Health Organization website) this pandemic has certainly left its mark on the world. There will undoubtedly be more changes in the near future and it will be up to us as a combined population, to adapt to the change. ☯