Is the post-pandemic life just a pipe dream?


Published: 2021-04-21 14:00

Last Updated: 2021-05-06 13:44

Editor: Raghad Jaber

Source: The Milwaukee Independent
Source: The Milwaukee Independent

All over the world, people are longing for life to return to pre-coronavirus normalcy. For many, the dream is basically reverting back to 2019: leaving their houses without masks, hugging their friends, and taking vacations without a care in the world.

But how realistic is this?

Around to stay

Scientists all around the world agree that the virus is likely to stay with us forever. Stépahne Bancel, CEO of vaccine creator ‘Moderna’ claims that Corona is “not going away.” Experts believe that the most probable outcome is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus will become endemic, meaning it will continue to exist and circle the globe and eventually becoming a ‘regular’ virus with minor symptoms such as those of the flu. This will take time, but immunity will help us get there. As more people take the vaccine, we could eventually get to a point where infections will become less likely to occur and the virus would be much less harmful- but that means we shouldn’t expect to ever completely forget the word ‘coronavirus.’

The global health decline

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our health both directly and indirectly. Beyond the treacherous effect of the virus itself, the lockdowns, isolation, tension and fear associated with it have all resulted in psychological stress and increased mental health problems. A study done by the international Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology indicates an 84 percent increase in global depression in 2020 compared to that in 2017. Furthermore, in the past two years, anti-anxiety medication perscriptions have spiked 34 percent since the Coronavirus outbreak. Prescription claims for insomnia aids have also increased by 14.8 percent. Locally, a survey performed by Jordanian University on over 5000 participants showed that 40 percent of participants experienced quarantine related anxiety. While being able to move freely may absolve symptoms for many, it will take time for the mental health of many to return to pre-pandemic levels.

A remote revolution
The pandemic caused a rapid transition into digital learning and working. At first, many found it hard to adjust, but nowadays it seems harder and harder to remember the days of working eight hours at the office. In fact, many firms believe that its employees are more productive at home perhaps due to comfort, flexibility and a significant decrease in wasting time and energy on unproductive exchanges. This change is unlikely to reverse with people preferring their newly found freedom of choice. A survey completed by Slack, a business communication platform, stated that 72 percent of workers prefer hybrid working, or a mixture of office and home work. Some participants reported higher levels of satisfaction and better life-work balance. However, it isn’t for everyone as it varies from gender, experience and job roles.

Overall, it appears that hybrid work is the future.

When it comes to online learning, an estimated 70 percent of students all over the world are communicating through technology and managing their learning online. In fact, according to the research published by Facts and Factors, a market research report firm, the global E-learning market is expected to more than double from 2019 to 2016. Even before the pandemic, e-learning was on the rise: coronavirus just expedited the process. Therefore, it’s unlikely that classrooms will completely revert back to traditional learning.

The roaring twenties
If you have ever heard of the ‘roaring twenties’ or the ‘Jazz age’, you would know that 1920’s was a decade of change just after the 1918 Spanish flu. It was a decade filled with an economic comeback, technological advancements such as the introduction of radios and cars, and the development of new styles of art, music and film all the way from the USA to Egypt.

While the coronavirus and the Spanish flu came nearly 100 years apart, how people responded post-Spanish flu may be telling of the years to come. How will attitudes towards life change? Could history repeat itself and a new age of widespread social interaction arise? While some experts predict a rise in antisocial behaviors and non-verbal communication due to pandemic-related closures, the 1920’s could provide an optimistic version of the post-coronavirus life.