Everyone likes to say in books, television, and film that the world changed in an instant. It was more like a few days. The event itself, a shadowy disease finding root in China, was, as it would seem in the grand scheme, an instant action. But that was, of course, not the end of it. The slow advance of this virus, COVID-19, is instead what really changed the societal “normal.”
Starting its spread among the local population, it expanded to cover the entire globe. And perhaps unsurprisingly, both lies, and incompetence, came to light in its wake. The holes in the world’s bureaucracies, whether they be Capitalist, Communist, or Fascist, have begun to appear in our social fabric. To put it simply and without specific blame, humanity was not prepared for this. And we likely never could be. With too many random variables at play even with our modern computing knowledge, our predictions of future events remain vastly hypothetical.
But most interestingly of all, the drastic changes we have made to curve this virus have had a profound effect on the societal “normal.” It has, in fact, broken it. What was once a society of physical socialization between individuals, has now been condemned to a society of isolation or digital communication. The structures within our society have been damaged and likely will never themselves unchanged. For even if COVID-19 is extinguished swiftly, the memory of this plague will stay within the minds of every aware individual until their grave.
And so, what we are told now, and I quote this from a Vermont official, is something along the lines of, “may we all be finding our new normal.” Careers have moved into the home. Tourism and restaurant business have taken major economic hits. The stock market is in its death throws and no one but those connected to it professionally seems to notice it over the din of the news of the virus. Digital content producers and social media influencers, whose effect on the social makeup of modern times cannot be overlooked, are left to struggle over how to continue their advertising careers. This event, this historical event, has changed our social patterns, and therefore, what is “normal” within our society.
Of course, the usual parties have panicked. Buying all they can find from food to, of all things, toilet paper. And in doing so, all they manage to do is hurt the rest of us. I hope they will learn from this event; but I doubt they will. As for each great change, a new party is thrown off balance that has not experienced their perspective being throw off the table before.
So how will our now terminal societal norms come through this? It could recover with a few scars and we could continue to walk the rut of despair and detachment that so many feel within this old way’s grasp as the fist slowly closes tighter. Or, we can embrace the change that has been forced upon us. Demonstrate humanity’s defining trait of adaptability. In the years that follow as COVID-19 recedes into vaccines and, soon after, history books, do not stand idly by. Now is the time to make the changes you wish to see in the world. “Normality” is already fractured. It is time to define it anew. And we must do so before the vultures of old come to feast upon the corpse and resurrect the torn body to seize the world again.
Just remember one thing as you do so. We all rise together, or we will all die alone. And I for one, choose to rise together.
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