Our work and home lives have forever changed in 2020 and continue to do so in the current year. From our physical hugs and meetings to elbow bumps and virtual meetings, everything has changed. We were pushed to learn and adapt to new skills just because it was a question of our survival. It was a big challenge for many of us to accept change so fast in our normal lives and seeing the scale of change from a global viewpoint is just staggering. Who would have thought that a normal toilet paper, in this pandemic, will attain the status of gold! The shift in our lives is real and visible. The new normal that we see today is way different from the old normal and possibly continues in some form or other for a long time.
The normal we enjoyed living
The last year was a complete whitewash for all of us. This frustrating time is still ongoing for a major part of the world as the happy hours many of us boasted about became off-limits. The old normal way of going to the office jostling in a metro, catching sometimes with a long-lost friend was enough to put up a smile on our face. The office was for fun, the thought of staying at home would make many go crazy. School-going children were not far behind. They were happy to go to school every day, learning new things, playing, and having fun with friends. Picnics, outings, sightseeing trips, tourism, and travel were the perfect getaway from boredom as well as to feel good and recharged to live another day. Surprisingly for us, the word “virus” used to be just another harmless word in the dictionary. It was best left for creative writers to imagine sci-fi stories where a lonely virus could bring the world down. And for those who were feeling let down, it was the thought of positivity created by the positive people that worked wonders.
The normal gestures which we were used to, a firm handshake, a tight hug, or a friendly tap are in for a long break. Sneezing and coughing were just a way to show that we are alive! Meeting new people at different places, parties, clubs and even hanging out with friends and family is how normally weekends were spent. People used social media but never went off limits with it, there was much more to do. Life was in the fast lane, people were happy to live a mechanized life for it brought them stability, success, and peace in life. Special costumes were for special occasions, PPE and masks were rarely seen in public; social distancing was unheard of. Office meetings were a good time to eat your favorite pizzas and McD burgers.
The New normal we have adapted
A year has passed with “new normal” now part of our lives. It is all about a new way of living, working, and interacting with other people after a major disruption in our life routines due to a global health crisis. The current one emerging from the widespread outbreak of Covid-19 has influenced every aspect of our work and life. All of us are adjusting to new ways to manage our daily activities. This adaptation is the New Normal, for some, it may be a temporary phase while for others it will be a new living culture. Besides, the numerous changes in our lives, the new normal is also about knowing ourselves better. It is also time for preparing for the post-pandemic generation. So let us dive into what is the new normal.
The emergence of a new kind of virtual world in a short span of a year and moving at a break-neck speed is simply mind-blowing. In some parts of the world, this digital transformation, unimaginable a couple of years back is leading the change in society. Society has become contactless to a large extent. People are using digital technology like never before, ordering food, groceries, medicines, etc, online, from the comfort of their home. Binge-watching and eating go hand in hand with a host of OTT platforms to keep us glued to screens for hours. Work-from-home is here to stay as more and more companies adopt it as a part of their work culture. People have upped their skills to cope with remote working learning new office tools. Social media platforms, video chat, and phone calls are the only ways to stay in touch with your close ones. The world of schools and universities has shifted to the e-learning model, teaching done remotely and on digital platforms. Will this abrupt move to online learning will become a norm or we will see an emergence of a hybrid model where online education will have a larger role to play, only time will tell? Cash in physical form is now hardly seen with people finding it easy and safe to pay using credit, debit, or mobile-based apps. Public transport is seeing dwindling users as most of the world is virtually connected. Businesses have increasingly moved to an online model, those solely relying on physical mortar and brick are in deep trouble as consumers accept online shopping at a frantic pace.
The future of medicine is undergoing rapid change. People will continue to have online consultations with doctors. Internet of Things-based devices will continue to grow at a fast pace offering advanced technology at cheaper costs to monitor everyday health. Social distancing norms are part of the new virtual world, people are willing to interact virtually but reluctant to meet in person. The age-old thought of a human being as a social animal has gone for a toss! Personal hygiene was always an important part of our lives before the pandemic, but now it is more to do with how many times we wash our hands, incessantly use sanitizers and wear face masks with a ritual-like frequency. And based on our habit-forming tendency, this will continue for a while and they should. The once-revered word “positive” has lost its sanctity, now it sets most of the people in panic mode. People are happy to see “negative” people or negative-positive people!! (person tested negative for covid-19, and with a positive attitude)
The pandemic has been a great leveler for all of us, giving everyone time to introspect about ourselves, society, and nature. It gave us the time we all needed in building ourselves to cope with this tough situation and learning the various truths of life. We even got the space and time to grieve, to celebrate, and to feel every emotion in between, during this challenging time. We are living in a situation that never happened before, and it is impacting each one of us in a very distinctive way that we never thought of. We even got time to learn our indoor hobbies which we did not even know we had. People enhanced their skills in their area of interest. From the initial shock, the 'new normal' has been able to reduce the chaos and calm us down to a great extent. It has also allowed us to think but it also expands our ability to think openly about the efforts that are needed to help our society at large.
There is no denying the fact that the current pandemic has turned our world upside down. Indeed, it was very tough to suddenly change your way of living to something alien to all of us initially. But we persisted like so many times the human race has done in past in face of adversity. We allowed the change to happen, some for good and some for just survival. It is but natural to resist a change that is so dramatic and so many of us were not ready to accept the new normal. The resistance was more with the inner self which had to give in at some point in time. Will life ever return to old normal is the question that crops up whenever one sits down thinking about life. The answer is probably no as the clock ticks with each passing moment, the new normal has already become normal for most of us. The comfort of tech and habits that we have picked up during this time is here to stay. Of course, some of the restrictions will go off simply because we are indeed social animals! We are born to interact physically with some caution.
Adjusting to new normal is never too early or too late, it is a process that each one of us is getting used to at our pace. The opportunity to change, make a better version of ourselves is a godsend and should be taken in the right spirit. It is difficult for us as a global community to predict when such a crisis will occur and what will be its impact, but if we prepare for any eventuality then it is sure that the next black swan event will not be as gloomy as the one, we all have endured. “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans” So, let us leave old normal to rest in peace while we focus our energy on the bright future ahead that holds the promise of a great life, a society that upholds the principles of liberty, truth, and justice for all.