Surviving Covid: Bitchier Isn’t Better
One of the biggest casualties of the Pandemic during the long dark days of February is a sense of positive interactions with others — and it is showing up in a range of places.
For all the stories of uncomplaining dogged determination to make it through the Pandemic, there is also something very disturbing brewing. Namely people are not only stressed and suffering economically, but they are getting meaner.
They are getting angrier.
They feel as if the “rules” just don’t apply. Or that they can get away with things they normally would never consider.
Part of this is frustration, generally, about the fact that the long, dark tunnel of the Pandemic does not yet have a light visible, much less an end date that anyone is vaguely interested in predicting with any kind of accuracy. Few things are working the way they should. The only thing that looks vaguely “normal” is the full shelves in food stores (at least in Germany). Local life is still frustrated on a daily basis, between working at home, school interuptions, the general slow pace of operations (from government to big business). The economic discussions in the room are still too shrouded in lockdown subsidies, but give the innoculation programs a few more months and warmer weather, and things are likely to be rather unsettling beyond all the social distancing.
Things may be cold outside, in other words, but they appear to have positively frozen the pipes of the way things are “supposed to be.” No matter how much this too, is an illusion. Even in “normal” times.
Most stores remain closed. There are long lines at banks and post offices, most days. Getting “normal” chores done in a “normal” way if not the same amount of time is a daily joke. Then again, where else would you be? And what would you be doing?
Stories of travel are overlaid with draconian complications, starting with reams of paperwork necessary for the trip in the first place, to mandatory testing at several points along the way.
The Pandemic has sharpened those distinctions — with starker extremes of black and white — but the reality even before Covid is that increasing numbers of people, even in Western democracies are drifting further and further from what “normal” is at least portrayed to be. Namely stability — including of the social and economic kind.
Business Services Are Unbelievably Slow
It is not just if you work in ex-im getting (anything) across borders right now. It is everything downstream. Part of this is the outsourcing of workers due to the Pandemic and technical issues that insue from home working environments. But part of this is that things are just not working. Has your gym, for example, courteously stopped billing you for all those closed months or have they continued to collect?
Governments Are Unbelievably Overburdened
Democratic functions in many countries have been exposed as being rather threadbare during the Pandemic. The latest ball drops over the vaccine are just one indication of this.
This is not likely to get better, even when the restrictions on daily life are lifted, which is one of the reasons that the lifting is also likely to be deliberately slowed — only exacerbating tension and frustration.
Once the Pandemic is also officially over, the calls for re-integrating those who are slowly slipping lower if not fully off the grid may also become a political firestorm that will continue to reshape regions and governments long after this.
Do you remember a time when you did not need an appointment for the simplest bureaucratic chore?
Society Is Being Changed Along With Economies
Unlike the economic meltdown of 2008, there is no way to “fix” the pain in a timetable that is really man-made. Sure, governments can herd citizens into innoculation centers, and test people who travel, but none of this has a schedule that is anywhere near “fixed” if not foreseeable.
Issues from obtaining materials to create the vaccine to efficiently distributing it to large enough populations to prevent another global outbreak loom large.
How will school age children adapt? Will there be a “Covid Generation” of young adults, or indeed any adults, who become permanently unmoored from daily life?
None of these things are clear at this point.
It is understandable that would people would be afraid. That terror turns into something else a lot darker. Overload becomes desperation. And desperation too easily becomes hate. It is a worn path.
How To Cope (At Any Age)
The first thing to remember is that nothing lasts forever. The second is that things never stay “the same.” The world after Covid, no matter who you are will be different. Accept that. And do not give into automatic assumptions that it will be, by definition “worse.”
It might be. But in the gaps and frustrations and delays also come action — if not motivation — to make things different.
Whether it is calls, finally, for a comprehensive global green New Deal, or mandatory basic incomes, or a rebuilding of vital infrastructure and more affordable housing, all of these issues will by definition, be on the table.
If they are broadly ignored, it is also not likely that citizens, in any country, will accept the same for long.
In a world where daily life, if not survival, has been put on a schedule that mandates a global innoculation program to be both implemented and become effective, the normal rules are not really all that applicable. Nor are “normal” solutions.
Staying positive, broadly, about as much as you can, is also critical.
Not to mention, as much as possible, being considerate, if not nice to others. We are all on this boat. And it will be inevitably better for everyone, in both the short and longer term, if, during the transition, people remember that a better tomorrow depends on the cooperation of others and the common good.
There is a better day ahead. In the meantime, be nice to those around you.