Maybe this is just me and my
pessimistic dark minded nature. But I heard someone talking about wearing masks yesterday and this notion just snapped into my mind.
Sure, it could easily have been the 1000th time I’ve overheard people discussing pandemic restrictions and referring to them as The New Normal. This time, though, instead of mentally nodding my head in approval of someone “getting it”, alarms went off in my mind.
I saw visions of people relaxing into “life as usual” routines from their pre-pandemic lives because they deigned to wear a mask and social distance. I saw COVID Circles – which I’m suddenly wondering why no one thought to nickname them COVID Covens or some derivative – carelessly growing in size.
All because I know how people get. As a lifelong observer of people, I’ve seen the behavior time and again. Once people accept a new reality or process as normal, they relax into it.
Think about a new relationship or the last procedural change you experienced at work…yeah, let’s go with those. Obviously, I have no current subject matter expertise in either the business or relationship arenas, but I’m kind of a know-it-all in both areas after 30+ years of experience in both…unless someone wants to tell me that people have changed their base behaviors lately.
For the better.
So, work-from-homers, how long did it take for you to change your dress code habits for work to the business mullet model once you went to WFH status? When you have a video call are you putting on a business appropriate top while keeping things casual below the belt?
And you daters and new cohabitors…how long into the
shituation – er… relationshit…no, I can do this – relationship were you before the first glimpses of routine showed up? Or the first argument about taking the other for granted?
It’s just what people do. Maybe they embrace a change. Perhaps they resist it initially. But either way, once the newness wears off, we relax. Often in ways that are deleterious you the situation…at least, that’s my observation. And it’s not that every instance that relaxing into it is bad, sometimes there are organic improvements. Things can just get better once we overcome the resistance and start behaving with acceptance.
But in matters of public health and wellness, relying on hope that that is the outcome seems capricious.
A) the group is just too large to assume compliance, even if the anti-maskers stop fighting the yet-to-be-made national mandate. You know there will be dick-nosers out there walking around, flashing people. Not me, I am loving the cover my mask gives me for my aged nose hair shituation. If only it were winter and earmuffs were appropriate, I’d be in a state of follicular betrayal through migration heaven.
And, B) you know that natural post-acceptance relaxation is going to introduce selfishly negative variables like I listed above versus positive benefits through adherence.
For those reasons, I think people saying “The New Normal” should be corrected to say “The Now Normal”.
I think we’ll be wearing masks until next summer. That’s my conservative estimate. But I don’t think we’ll be wearing masks consistently five years from now. Sure, maybe we’ll see a positive shift in behaviors to where when people get the sniffles, they pop on a mask out of consideration of those around them.
Y’know, like people in Gina.
Given America these days, it seems more likely that entire COVID Covens will end up on trial for murdering one of their own because one of them had an allergy attack. I can see it now: The COVID Panic defense.
But if I have to include a potential positive, I’d say that if we can accept things as Now Normals, maybe that allows the American culture to grow into something more cohesive and less resistant to change. Sure, we’ll always have the overcorrecters that horde supplies and lock themselves away in hermit mode and dick nosers that only manage to comply in spirit on the periphery, but the majority of us will be in the center, working together for the greater good…like a good bell curve. Instead of America today where the country seems like a dodgeball field with no one in the center at all.
So, yeah…how about we shoot for that?
The Now Normal.
I dunno. Maybe everyone conscientiously wearing masks got there before me and kept the whole Now Normal notion to themselves…