No normal

NOTICE: The views expressed in The Vermilion's opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect those of The Vermilion staff or of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

A common phrase I’ve heard when talking to friends and family has been, “I just can’t wait till everything gets back to normal.” It’s so common that I started keeping count for every time it’s said. I’m up to 11, so I’m not crazy for thinking it happens often. As I naturally do, when something happens more than about three times I start to think it over. Whether it’s worth thinking over I have no idea, but I do it. I started to think about whether normal is not only possible, but preferable.

As I did some research, I realized that a pandemic brings something out in people, in our entire society. I spoke about this in my last two articles, and this one will be the end to the trilogy. It sloughs away the barriers between us and our effect. We start to focus on the things that really matter; it’s a profound effect of catastrophes. People get married who weren’t planning on it, people sell or buy homes, hospitals and businesses work together, it’s heartwarming at times. It can also take out the worst in people. People start to lean towards self-preservation. They come to the conclusion the easiest way to keep themselves safe is to be in control of their destiny. This turns into buying excess toilet paper and hand sanitizers and guns.

This difference in people really determines who learns something by the end of all this. Who changes for the better. There’ll be more doomsday preppers, the classic response to a catastrophe. What about the other people, the people who had an actual profound effect? Nobody knows, but I’ve got a theory.

There is no normal. There will always be six feet between people in the supermarket, there’s going to be a line before people can go into a Wal-Mart. There will be hand sanitizers and wipes at every entrance, restaurants will prioritize take-out more. Schools will have a deeper focus on online schooling and internet communication. We’ve realized that some meetings could just be an E-mail. Being face-to-face will no longer be a must, and we can stay home for a lot of things we are just now realizing.

Is this a good thing? For Louisiana, a state built on culture and close affection, maybe not. For the world? A place that benefits from us driving less and factories not being in constant movement, maybe so. There’s a lot of things that came from this that are great. Gay and bisexual men can now give blood more frequently, the insurgence of blood needed has relaxed the restrictions on them giving blood. This act alone has given gay and bisexual men a feeling, something that they haven’t had in a lot of areas, which is to be needed. Oil prices have dropped so low that it’s even zero in some places, so the oil industry is going to be recovering from this for years.

Though with this oil industry, it may be bad in the beginning, but over time and with perspective, it may be a great thing for the world. We’ve needed a reason to move to renewable energy and the recent environmental effects may double us up. On the capitalist side, this shows oil companies they need something else to cover their bases. On the environmental side it shows the world the effect of shutting down for a while. A planet starting to recover, while humanity is dealing with a crisis. To me, it’s unfortunately not a coincidence.

If there is never a new normal, we have to understand the effects and embrace them. The act of maneuvering things during this pandemic are not bad habits to pick up, and are useful over time. Despite what the media may tell you, the world is learning from this as fast as they’re recovering from it. Understand this new normal, and you’ll be fine. Look at the bright side will you, it’s pretty much the only way to do things now. And don’t buy too much toilet paper.

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