Covid-19 and after by Susan Grimsdell
People sometimes talk about the Covid lockdown as being a bit like the atmosphere during the war. Then, everyone in every country, in fact in much of the world, faced similar risks and hardships. “We’re all in this together” and we all had to make sacrifices and put up with inconveniences for the common good.
The difference is that during the war, people went out of their way to support one another. They sat in bomb shelters, sang, shared their thoughts and feelings, probably went to each others’ places to listen to the radio news together.
How different it was during the Covid crisis. Then we had to avoid one another, not take food to neighbours, not touch one another or give any support other than to our own very few special people, our close family, not even extended family.
The joys of isolation
The surprising thing is that many people found themselves beginning to like the enforced isolation. Kim Hill (radio presenter) even formed an acronym, and when a phenomenon gets acronym-ised, it’s a sure sign that it’s one shared by a large number of people: JOSH – Joy of Staying Home. I found myself being one of those.
Although I’m retired, like most people I have activities that I routinely do, and even though none of them have any compulsion or duty, it transpired that when I was not able to do them, I experienced a lovely sense of freedom from pressure. A lot of it had to do with knowing no one else was doing anything either. So FOMO (fear of missing out) was entirely absent.
Wondrous things happened, such as no traffic at all, clean air, quietness, no consumerism, almost no vehicle accidents, people spending time with kids at home, people finding ways to amuse themselves without spending money. Most telling was that in those few brief weeks we saw one of the largest, most dramatic drops in CO2 emissions ever recorded.
Terrible things happened too, people losing businesses they had taken years to build up, many of them never to recover, tens of thousands of people losing their jobs, many of them never to find similar employment again. Magazines going down the drain, people not being able to share events such as funerals and weddings, and an increase in domestic violence.
Time moves on, nothing stays the same. In New Zealand we just about eliminated Covid, and life began to fall into the same old patterns. What an indictment on us as intelligent beings that, given a once in a lifetime chance to reset our style of living, we failed to do so. In fact we could hardly wait to resume our harmful habits – first off the block was thousands of us queuing up for fast food and some of us getting aggressive when we couldn’t get it. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose indeed.