I’m sure all of you have been hearing the same thing: “We have to get used to a new normal.” I myself have been hearing this a lot lately as well. Whether it’s a global pandemic, social injustices, the attacks on media or science, or changes in our weather due to climate change, there’s a lot of “new” out there to get used to.
I’ve thought about this a lot as I’m getting older: norms change all the time. Our “new normal” – current crises aside – is much different than our parents grew up with. Much different than I grew up with. In the last 20 years, there’s been a rapid change in our daily lives for what we consider normal.
Twenty years ago, I was in college. That’s back in the days of AOL and dial-up.1 Communication was starting to really take off as “instant”, with instant messaging and cell phones. It was just at the precipice of it, and back then it was exciting to go through. Now, most of those same services we started with are gone and have been replaced by new things. And those new things are now old and established institutions within our social lives.
Think of where we are today: we have instant access to everything. We are a society that wants everything right now. We always want the new stuff. We want change immediately. We want justice immediately. And we are at quite a crossroads. The people who are making decisions – right, wrong, or indifferent – are by and large from a generation who didn’t grow up with instant. They have been adapting to a new normal for a long time, yet still want to hold on to the older ideals they grew up with. I’m sure that you and I will be doing the same as we get older.
We as individuals can adapt to a new normal at our own pace. Society not so much. Society involves more people and moves slowly, which is not the world we as individuals expect to live in today. As we are all striving to return to what “normal” looks like, we need to realize that things are changing rapidly and that a normal or a new normal might not even be what we expect. I guess for now we move forward as the pandemic rages, and wait patiently for what life will be like on the other side.
Maybe take a break from things online. Take some time to figure out connecting to others in the safest way possible. Reflect on what we are all going through.2 Do your part to help others through this, whether it be checking in on people or doing the simplest thing that anyone could: wear a damn mask.