The Corona virus pandemic is a twisted ironic beat in humanity’s recent narrative that not only tested our will to survive in the face of potential illness and death, but our will to survive in face of being deprived of two of the most important drives in human life: to work and to be with others. Social distancing has put us all in a bind: keep our loved ones safe by avoiding them. This has meant not touching them, not going out to dinner with them, and in many cases (with those outside of our immediate family) not seeing them in person at all.
How peculiar to have certain people in our lives taken away for a period while being forced to spend more time with others. Some of us have lost the daily contact with our co-workers and colleagues and are spending all of our time with family members at home. For others, it’s being stuck with our roommates away from family and friends. In a time such as this, we are faced with how much we have taken the individuals in our lives for granted…and how much we value our relationships with them.
And there are so many contrasts, on opposite ends of a spectrum. For example, with people spending so more time at home with each other, this pandemic is predicted to cause a baby boom, known as “Corona Babies” (https://bit.ly/2UrexqL). Many people have decided to adopt a new pet to care for. However, being forced to stay at home with our partner and without our usual work, routines, or outlets has resulted in less optimal outcomes for some, such as in China where the divorce rates have gone up since the virus outbreak (https://bit.ly/3ac2zrx).
Videos out of Italy show folks partying in their balconies as a neighborhood, while still maintaining distance from one another during the country’s lockdown, garnering responses from celebrities such as Katy Perry who tweeted “You cannot break the human spirit. We are one in this.” It’s a test of love that has put many people across the world in an ultimatum type situation where they might have to end up spending time with those they’ve been avoiding or depriving them of those they love most. It has caused heartbreak, homesickness, and separation. Though in the end it has shown us what matters most; we must face those in our lives we love but have we been distancing ourselves from way before social distancing took effect.
The pandemic has also proven to be a test of compassion and empathy. The polarising social effects of the virus allow those of us keen on observing human behaviour to make interesting observations. From watching events unfold, it truly does seem like there are two types of people. We all saw the toilet paper crisis of 2020 happen right before our eyes, the mass hording of not only toilet paper but also hand sanitizer and other outbreak essentials. This set off alarms for a lot of people who were quick to point out that hoarding supplies essential to warding of the virus affect those most vulnerable amongst us, such as the elderly who are most in danger of losing their lives to COVID-19. While there are those who intend on taking advantage of this situation for personal gain, such as one couple from Vancouver who decided to mass purchase supplies from Costco and made a hundred thousand dollars from reselling them (https://bit.ly/3acY14j). Or the landlords who seek to evict tenants who are currently not able to make an income due to the outbreak containment measures (https://bit.ly/3a6a5Eq). Fortunately, for every story that may seemingly make you lose faith in humanity, there are stories that will restore your faith. In reaction to mass purchases being made, a Scottish couple who are the owners of a convenience store decided to not only save supplies and give them away for free to the elderly of their community, they also deliver it right to their doorstep (https://bit.ly/2WA0BgW).
Of all the unfortunate, unpleasant, and uncontrollable outcomes of the situation at hand, what the virus has done well is that it has forced us to think about connections. Even with social distancing, no one is completely isolated thanks to social media. Being in the dark during situations like this really drives the cultivation of fear, negativity and even prejudice. Thankfully, the internet has helped always stay connected with one another, including people who are in far away places and in far different situations such as Iran’s complete lockdown. Including those who are suffering the firsthand consequences of the virus such as those in Wuhan where the virus first originated and has been one of the most effected places. Whether it’s through calling your loved ones who are isolated far away or to simply support those on the internet by spreading supportive messages or lighthearted memes to keep morale high, it’s important not to miss key realization of our time. The focus of this outbreak has somewhat been on the wrong organisms. It’s not the germs, the bacteria, the supposed pangolin that started it all; it’s about the people in our lives.