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We used to do WHAT before COVID?

During this pandemic, there have been many cultural shifts that are seen as the new normal. As more and more people are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and the end seems to be within our sights finally, we may still see this cultural change in a lot of the population after spending over a year in quarantine. For instance, masks being a fashion statement in countries such as the United States seems to have made a comeback in mainstream fashion and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

When enough of the population is vaccinated to forgo COVID-19 precautions safely–and yes, knowing that you are vaccinated is not enough to stop wearing a mask and social distancing, by the way–we will probably still have to question…why the hell did we do some of the things we did before the COVID-19 pandemic?

1)     We used to ride on public transportation that hasn’t been regularly cleaned in decades. This is more of an American-specific thing. The pandemic didn’t create cleaning of public spaces, but these spaces certainly weren’t cleaned as frequently as they are now. The most prominent example is the public transportation systems in various cities, such as the New York City subway system. Several sources reported last year that for the first time in the 115 years the NYC subway system has been in operation, the entire system was shut down overnight for all of the train cars to be cleaned and sanitized. While this is probably a dramatic example, it’s an example of how quickly this pandemic changed the way systems were handled, given that this happened about two months after the start of the pandemic.

2)     We used to go to concerts and mash up against each other. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it is a thing that many of us probably cannot see doing for a while, even after this pandemic is over. Many will argue that nothing will replace the in-person concert experience of pre-March 2020. However, socially distanced concerts and virtual concerts still ruled the past year unopposed in many places and for many performers instead of the standard in-person options being available. The fact that we even used to go to concerts may even start to feel strange to some who were going to virtual concerts all year.

3)     We used to go to pointless work meetings that really could have been email threads the entire time. Tying in with the virtual concerts, some of our bosses finally learned that our email inboxes exist and can be used to communicate information with their employees instead of just calling five meetings a day. While this is generally infuriating for many people because of all the time they wasted beforehand, this could hopefully be the thing that sticks for long after the pandemic is over, if only one thing has to stay.

4)     We used not to wear masks when we were sick. This is another specifically American phenomenon because wearing masks in public when you are under the weather is the norm in many other countries. This wasn’t the case in America…until wearing a mask became obligatory whether you were sick or not to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Many people on social media have questioned why we were never doing this from the start, so this may be a thing that remains well after the pandemic as well.

Overall, the turn of the decade causes culture shifts pretty consistently throughout history. Still, this decade saw a global pandemic that led to our cultural changes here in America and around the world.

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