As we anticipate the pressure resulting from social distancing to reduce over time, we can conclude our post-pandemic lives will never be the same. So far, we have experienced a massive shift in how we live with our families, socialize with friends and engage in business; all of which tend to relay the same message to brace yourselves for the new normal.
For the most part, we can all agree these new norms revolve around virtual reality and virtual events. From attending online classes and workshops to virtual conferences and business meetings, most of our day-to-day engagements have progressed fairly well. It has been even better for those of us who don’t enjoy official settings and are more productive in our own spaces. So, what changes will we see in our new normal?
Meetings have switched to logging on to video platforms
Today, life seems quite fair to those who have always hated early morning drives to the office and late evening traffic jams. All that struggle has now been reduced to waking up a couple of minutes before your workday, putting on a nice shirt, fixing your face and never changing out of your pajamas.
We used to find such a lifestyle lazy and unproductive, but now almost everyone has done this at least once or twice, likely all the time. Do you remember the BBC interviewee whose clip went viral after his daughter interrupted him during a live interview? It seemed so strange then, but crazier things have happened like a global pandemic!
Dinner parties to celebrate milestones are virtual events
Nothing can stop close friends, families and peers from enjoying each other’s company, even while we isolate during this global pandemic. Amid the crisis, virtual dinners have really played a significant role in keeping people connected. We see people planning virtual parties where you all order takeout from the same place at the same time, to then enjoy a meal and good conversation.
There have also been more virtual game nights and web-based game subscriptions have risen. People are learning new skills with online training, where the physical supplies needed are shipped to participants in advance. With amazon and other courier services readily available, we carry less and ship more. In essence, it takes the same amount of planning to run a live event or virtual event when you are planning the agenda, supplies, venue or platform, and attendee experience. Now, we have simply had to think more creatively to imitate a similar experience.
Online gifts are the go-to for friends, employees and loved ones
According to a publication by Google, “online gifts” global search statistics rose by 80 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. Before, we would send an online gift to an extended acquaintance for the convenience of not socializing with them. Today, we have more options to personalize an online gift and send them regularly to our friends, family members, colleagues and business partners.
The convenience of online ordering has overall increased gift-giving as a way to form meaningful connections with others. Furthermore, it has changed the socially accepted norms on the styles of gifts, acceptable frequencies and types of relationships.
Hugs have become care baskets
Embracing each other has been our way of life. We miss the closeness through hugging, kissing and holding our loves ones. But now that we are isolated with strict restrictions, we can only send each other “virtual hugs”. Even those we live with can be potential carriers of the virus, so we do the best we can to avoid close contact under the same roof. Our new way of showing love is by keeping apart, and in doing so we are protecting each other.
Instead of physical touch, people are now sending flowers and care baskets as a sign of comfort and support. In fact, it is no longer strange how common social norms like handshakes are replaced by elbow bumps, footshakes, and peace signs.
Schools are offering hybrid learning
Throughout the pandemic, students have continued to learn remotely via virtual platforms like ZOOM and Microsoft Teams. But now that economies are beginning to open and face-to-face learning is resuming, schools have adopted highly functional preventive measures to enhance safety.
One of these measures has been the inception of the hybrid learning model, which combines online and face-to-face learning, to minimize congestion in learning institutions allow students to pick their preferred learning environment. This is a necessary option to allow families to have peace of mind. The ability to learn remotely even when you are sick, will actually increase educational impact as opposed to when we would miss a few days of school and have to catch up later.
Impacts of social distancing are here to stay
As more vaccines continue to roll out and people observe the containment measures put in place, there’s a ray of hope that the pandemic will eventually end. As we have learnt new ways to live and to accomplish the same goals as before the pandemic, social norms are bound to stay changed forever in matters of convenience and creativity. Giant tech companies like Twitter and Slack have even proposed going remote permanently, which further gives us a picture of how the future may turn out.
Other lifestyle changes such as online shopping, cashless transactions, hybrid learning, and virtual parties have already become part of our lives. And to some extent, they’ve made our lives much more comfortable and easier than our pre-pandemic lives. Moving forward, it would not be a surprise if people hold onto such comforts and society starts adopting some of the social norms that before were considered anti-social. It will be interesting to see if these changes will bring people closer or further apart.