Unless you’ve read books like “The Stand” by Stephen King you had no idea what a pandemic does to life as we knew it. The book is not for the queasy or for folks who don’t like to read long books, but it’s a spellbinder about how a virus creates Armageddon.
The book’s virus is a flu whose mortality and contagion rate stretches past horrifying, which would make it just another Stephen King novel if we weren’t in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sometimes the imaginations of novelists become dang near prophetic.
Who would have thought we’d be wearing masks, gloves, and gobbling up whatever sanitizer we can get our hands on while doing our best to stay a safe distance from each other? Not me, but I’ve missed a lot of other big things in life too.
So let’s go back to that imagination thing as I wonder what effect this pandemic will have on our kids and grandkids. Grandparents aren’t that worried about tomorrow because we don’t have many of those left, but for those who have more time here than seniors are allotted I have to wonder what kind of marks will be left on the upcoming generations.
Since we don’t seem to have a right to privacy anymore I’ll start there. I’ve told my children that they will have to fight very hard to preserve their rights to privacy. Actually it’s probably already too late and now I think they’re really going to struggle trying to bring it back.
I assume that most of you have cell phones and as you know they track every move, call, text, message you make. Then add the latest COVID-19 twist where the concept of contact tracing enters the process of bending the curve, i.e. - if you got close to someone with COVID-19 you will be tracked down and notified that you are to quarantine for two weeks.
Then there’s homeschooling and working from home that changes the paradigm for education and work. Most of us have been able to work from home for quite a while but homeschooling was limited to special online courses or a few parents who wanted to homeschool their kids. Much to parents' chagrin here we are today when all school age kids are being homeschooled.
Not only are we homeschooling but many of us are shopping from home. In many homes going shopping was a favorite way to get out of the house to see what’s going on. Today going to the store or attending out of home appointments has become a last resort. One has to wonder how much this isolation will affect our ability to socialize like we used to.
Will this stay at home thing change the paradigm of how we socialize? Will our lives become more virtual where rather than actually attending concerts, parties, meetings, and events we stream them into our home televisions? It seems to me that this has already become the new normal and given that the experts think COVID-19 will be around for at least another year the probability that our efforts to defeat this virus will become rather ingrained into our social milieu.
So it looks like we’ll replace handshakes with elbow touching, hugging could be outlawed (which is tough on me because I like hugs), large gatherings will be monitored by social distancing police, touching your face could become a felony especially if you’re caught without hand sanitizer and a face mask.
Overall I think the saddest part of our response to this virus is the notion that we are basically to stay away from each other. This really makes me wonder about the long term effects of getting along with each other (working and playing well with others). After all we are in this together but encouraging us to stay away from each other has to have some effect on getting and staying together.
Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.
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