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COVID-19 and How It Changed Our Lives

I don’t think there isn’t anyone whose life has not profoundly changed due to COVID-19. We were over our heads and grossly underestimated how dangerous the virus can be. In our world where one can travel from one corner of the world to another within a matter of hours, is no surprise that the virus spread as fast as it did.

In a way, the spread of the virus has really forced us to stop and examine how we have been living our lives. For the most part, most of us were not too worried about airborne viruses prior to COVID-19. Wearing masks in public was not something I was accustomed to seeing unless I was in Asia. Sanitizing our hands and surfaces seemed like an afterthought for most in our frantic day-to-day hectic lives.

I remember in the early days of SIP, I was thinking “this will probably blow over next month”. Thank God my employer acted fast and shut down our office by late Feb/early March. In retrospect, it probably saved lives, directly and indirectly, by preventing us from gathering in a closed office environment.

As I keep up with the news on the coronavirus weekly, the numbers clearly indicate that we are not going to be out of this anytime soon. I teach at the local gyms as well, all instructors were furloughed by the middle of March 2020 until further notice as they had to close down. I really miss the people that I interact with at the office and at the gyms. I started to offer my classes for no fee online a few times a week so that my students can follow along and get some exercise and connect virtually. It was quite a learning experience. I used Zoom many times at work in meetings, but it was never connected to streaming music. Through some trials and errors, I finally got most of the technical glitches worked out (with the help of my IT Support buddy at the office).

Since I had more time to think during this SIP period, I started thinking more about our lives ahead. What will it look like? Are we EVER able to carry out our lives as before in public? During these past few months, I feel that big fundamental changes are taking place quietly all around us. We just have to look around.

Here are a few trends that have gained momentum in a big way and are only growing stronger:

  • Meal Delivery Services - services like UberEats, DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates..etc. are now a mainstay amidst COVID-19 as restaurants can only serve takeouts and customers have grown weary of picking up food themselves.

  • Online Shopping - If it wasn’t already strong enough, it has taken over completely the retail landscape as physical stores are unfortunately forced to close down. Amazon’s stock price is at its highest ever.

  • Online Fitness Classes - as we stay at home more and have more time for cooking/baking/snacking, a lot of us are starting to see a bigger version of themselves (Yikes!) To try to get back on track without the gym, people are more than ever willing to try online fitness classes. I personally enjoy both teaching and taking them at home. The tricky part is to carve out a space for your exercise without other people disturbing you. Backyards and garages are great if you have the space.

  • Learning Online - whether it is an online cooking video or school materials delivered via an online conference platform, learning has finally moved online in a big way. This has unfortunately revealed an uneven playing field for students as poorer students are having difficulty adjusting to online learning. It could be due to reasons like lack of funds for computer equipment or WIFI, unavailable parent/guardian to supervise online learning, lack of space at home for an ideal learning environment, etc.

  • People DIY Everything - I don’t know if it is because we’ve been cooped up at home for too long with too much time on our hands, people are now braver than ever and are learning to do EVERYTHING themselves (mostly through online tutorials). I mean, in a way, is great! (I felt pretty good the first time I cut my hair and came out alright.) Baking bread, cutting your own hair (and your family members’), pet grooming, home maintenance of all sorts. Have you visited a home improvement store lately? They are sold out of almost everything!

As we are creeping into August now and approaching the end of the summer, I know families with children are now receiving news that schools will likely continue to be online in the fall.

I really hope that we, as a society, can put whatever our biases and beliefs aside and focus on suppressing the virus as a priority. That may mean giving up some individual pleasures in the short term, but our actions now will save lives and have permanent consequences on how/when we eventually return to normalcy.

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