How has your life been over the unforgettable first half of 2020? The world has changed drastically for us all; we have been together through the tough and foggy times of the Coronavirus. We are all struggling to come to terms with the new reality or the “new normal,” which, ironically, is a far cry from the normal. No one can deny that it is distressing; however, every cloud has a silver lining. Sweeping changes take more effort and time to adapt to them, but times of change build strength and resilience in human beings and push them to reinvent themselves. History has chronicled waves of deadly epidemics along its annals; but human beings have not been reading much lately. The past was lacking in medical capabilities and technology, yet humanity has risen from the ashes post waves of flu epidemics and plagues that once claimed the lives of half the population in 14th century Europe. We are not implying that there is nothing to complain about; we are redirecting attention to what matters most now instead of lending our ears to the trends that lament the good old days. The Corona pandemic has forced a wide wave of migration to the online world; and new habitats impose their rules. We are facing a multifaceted challenge: we need to acknowledge and accept the change; then we need to learn the rules—of the new normal and the new habitat.
1. Face-to-face and physical communication: Shaking hands, hugging, and patting shoulders—these gestures fueled our lives with love and assurance and effortlessly delivered tons of messages to others.
2. Outings, social gatherings, eating at restaurants—even as the lockdown eases and cinemas, clubs, and restaurants reopen their doors, not everyone is assured that they can remove that mask within the walls of anywhere.
3. Gyms, of course, and aerobic classes—and while gyms are slowly coming back to life, the restrictions set say that our experience of exercising will never be the same.
4. Schools and daycares—that is a burdening loss. Online learning is challenging for little kids—and more so for their parents.
5. Working closely with others and water-cooler conversations. Some people get to work from the office, but under the restrictions of social distancing.
What we miss about our old lifestyle at large is the randomness and assuredness: we no longer step outside our houses just because we feel like it; it takes planning now and precautions—masks, gloves, alcohol, and hand sanitizers. We also pause for minutes to size up the situation: is it safe for my kids to go with me to this place? Is it a crowded hour? Does the place comply with the safety measures? The more serious loss is unpronounced: our general sense of safety and our comfort in the company of others.
Are we going to indulge in self-pity and wear the cloak of the victim? Wisdom says no. We can find a solace in the present. As the Corona pushed us apart in distance, it drove us to the online world. We gained accessibility, time, and empathy—remarkable gains indeed.
1. Businesses and trade migrated online. We are getting all our purchases with a few button clicks. This is convenience. Merchandisers are catering to our needs, the consumers, and learning to respond promptly, with patience and understanding. Everyone is increasingly humane.
2. We are saving more time—the time we commuted to work, the time we juggled to pick up our kids and run errands, you name it. COVID-19 has drawn our attention to the importance of time and has given us more of it.
3. The abundance of time, in turn, allowed us to look closely around us: we finally observe our kids in their day-to-day activities and cement our relationship with everyone in our household. We are present to instill morality; we are available to monitor and filter the content they watch and the people they communicate with and how all this influences them. We are there to nourish, protect, and guide them—emotionally and mentally.
4. Reviving a bygone goodness: In place of closed malls, we discovered a free outing—the streets. We have found alternatives to gyms: walking, jogging, and cycling. The entire evening scenery is heartwarming: parents flying kites with kids; children teaching each other skateboarding; families gathering for walks. In the process, our kids are developing a sense of neighbors and neighborhood.
5. The earth is recovering. Empty streets, reduced work hours, deserted beaches, closed borders, and halted flights have given earth the chance to recover from the pollution with a drop in CO2 emissions—even if only temporarily.
When COVID-19 pushed us off the edge of the cliff, we flew!
Learned: The Rules of the New Habitat
The online habitat is new for some of us, and its intensity is new for most of us. As we embrace this habitat, we admit that it is less than perfect and not entirely safe. The virtual world carries serious threats that deny us any chance of letting our guards down. Cybercriminals are on the look for any security gap or credulousness from our side to steal our personal data, our identity, our bank accounts, anything, even our kids. Technology is helping us pull through this pandemic, but we are in an era that urges us to take all precautionary measures before stepping outside the door of our house or to the online world.
We are researching everything related to the Corona—symptoms, precautions, immunity-boosting foods, effective masks, best practices, updates, remedies, and so on. This is the mindset to adopt as we move online and choose our applications.
· Research: Learn the safety measures that will secure your privacy, your data, and your peace of mind.
· Immunity: Fortify your online security with a trusted full-suite antivirus with antispyware. These are your online zinc and vitamin C.
· Protection: Browse only secure (https) websites and use secure connections. Here you got your masks and gloves.
· Dilution: Excess backfires. Limit the time you are spending on social media; and dilute chlorine with water before using it to disinfect surfaces.
· Wellbeing: Maintain a balanced diet, exercise, and good sleep; learn to disconnect and choose the communication apps that offer security, control, and work-life harmony.
We may have suddenly found ourselves packing and moving to this online world, but we have the time, power, resources, and vision to enjoy a safe life—online and offline.
The world is changing, and so are the prerequisites of a healthy life. Stay safe, online and offline.