The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on society and I wonder if it is conceivable it will have long-term impacts on it. The shock to societies will be felt for a very long time. From mourning the deaths to the financial impacts to the mental toll. We talk about the ‘new normal’ and when we will ‘return to normal’. I wonder if some things should never return to normal. Not after this profound experience.
Will society change for the better in some ways due to this shock to the system? Or will all be simply forgotten like we have all woken up from a nightmare we just want to shake off and forget, if we can?Tweet
Workplace flexibility and working from home
Obviously, a big change is the capacity in some fields to work from home, or the flexibility to partially work from home and partially from the office. I think pretty much every disabled person out there went WTF? We literally asked for this and was told ‘nope, totally impossible’. Turns out it was totally possible, they just didn’t want to accommodate us. Go figure.
And I now wonder if this will be a permanent feature in the future. Some companies rather like the concept now. So much so some tech companies find it quite appealing. I do as well. Had I ever had this option I would have been able to function better and manage my illness so much better. And be far more productive. Simply from the fact I could have controlled when I started the day and controlled my environment (light, scents, noise). For me, this would have been an extreme improvement. Mind you, I don’t have kids and certainly not kids distance learning from home added to That equation.
Quite frankly, it would have helped me to distance learn in school as well, due to chronic illness.
Web and phone doctor appointments
Web and phone doctor visits allow for a lot of flexibility for seniors and disabled people who are less mobile some of the time and need many times more appointments to maintain health. However, a lot of the appointments it isn’t necessary to be Present. Like for simple medication refills, for example. I have to do that consistently every 3 months. But I go more often than that for things that crop up. And I can’t drive which means I am dependent on others to get me there, for things that do not necessarily even need me to be physically present. Some, obviously, do, of course, but doing these appointments lately over the phone I realized I can cut down going into the city a whole lot. Even for specialists! I had a great chat with my neurologist over the phone. Very productive. I know sometimes I would have to see him for the neurological assessments but sometimes it is just a follow up and medications and so forth.
An awareness of the effects of isolation
There was an epidemic of loneliness prior to the pandemic:
In the last 50 years, rates of loneliness have doubled in the United States. In a survey of over 20,000 American adults, it was found that almost half of respondents reported feeling alone, left out, and isolated. Further, one in four Americans shared that they rarely feel understood, and one in five people believe they rarely or never feel not close to people.Psychology Today
And now we are all keenly aware of what isolation does to people. We are all aware of how important it is to find ways to connect, even if we can’t physically connect with people. And I wonder if this social awareness of the effects of isolation will actually help after the pandemic to lower the levels of loneliness and isolation felt by so many. Perhaps these group ways of connecting online will continue in some ways. Perhaps people will consider those that are more isolated and connect with them in various ways. One can hope.
More of a focus on well-being and mental well-being
There is this thing during the pandemic of Actually ASKING people if they are ‘Really Okay.’ And that is not something that was ever normalized before. No one cared to actually ask and certainly no one cared to actually hear the answer. Perhaps after the pandemic people will actually ask this question Meaningfully again.
But also while we are often confined in our homes and unable to have social contact, or do the things we usually do to cope with stresses in life… people are learning what many of us with chronic illnesses learn, alternative ways to cope, manage stress and focus on our overall well-being. And I hope that these will continue past the pandemic. Not the methods themselves, but, yes, them too. But the Mindset that overall well-being is actually an important thing to focus on. Not pushing through it without complaint. Not sucking it up. Not work is more important than any other factor in your life. And if We Do this will spread into other aspects of our lives… including the workforce. We will not put up with hostile or bad workplaces if we all agree that well-being is vital.
All of these would improve disabled lives. I don’t see a sudden improvement in disability awareness though given the opinions of people during the pandemic about disabled lives- which was extremely discouraging. There is the fact that COVID-19 causes long term symptoms. How long term we do not know. What that will mean, we do not know. It is extremely frightening though. Outcomes like that are terrifying and I hope they figure all that out. The why. The how. What to do about it. I wouldn’t wish long-term illness on anyone. Ever. However, if this leads to long term chronic illness and in some cases disability- that is a lot of people with chronic illnesses and disability added to society. Will that change society? And the public conscious of disability? Will that cause more awareness? More adjustments? Motivate cultures and societies to adapt and change? Or in a year or so will they be forgotten and diminished and, well, simply not heard? Time will tell.
Will we be more aware of our impact on the environment from seeing what short lockdowns changed and impacted the environment positively so quickly? I am skeptical on this one.
Will we hold politicians more accountable due to how they handle the pandemic and how they handle future issues? Will we hold companies in low regard or high regard depending on how they handled the pandemic and their employees during it?
Will we value the need for healthcare more?
I can say personally, with my spouse being laid off for so long, and his EI at an end, I have become the value the simple things. I never really have been materialistic and so selling things off for money I need to survive, doesn’t bother me. So much so I wonder why I never did it before to declutter. I just want to survive it and maybe that means we will have little left of anything but there is nothing wrong with starting over. Starting retirement savings- when we can. All things like that can wait. People are what matter in the end. And the necessities.