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Masks: Our New Normal

Being a millennial, another shift in the world that I have witnessed is due to the COVID-19 whose causes, repercussions, cure and long-term effects are cryptic to this day. This is the worst challenge of all that humanity has faced after WW2. COVID-19 is not just a small melodramatic show of rain, sleet and snow; it’s the tsunami that shook our lives on a global scale and didn’t refrain from doing so even now. We can’t wait it out. We can’t rule it out. As the third wave of COVID-19 is prevalent along with rampant distribution of vaccinations around the planet, the very notion of a COVID-19 free world seems a utopian fantasy at times. It is becoming increasingly clear with the passage of time that our world may not go back to normal- at least not for a few years. Let’s explore a few vistas where it will affect directly on macro level. Our world had been on a roller coaster ever since 2019. Imagine you are reading a thriller about a deadly virus that breaks out in a small part of the world and then due to globalization travels across the borders, butchering anyone coming its way. There is no way to stop it at first. Once it is studied and diagnosed, its prognosis starts, precautions are taken and efforts are exerted to stop its spread. Other than social distancing, a cure is found a vaccine. Although it may sound pretty interesting to look at it this way, it had led to a damaging consequence- the universal distrust on the concept of globalization. People will think twice now before going to new places
and meeting new people. Agoraphobia, social anxiety, penetrating fear of getting infected, psychological disturbances and newly developed habits of washing hands, keeping masks on, maintaining social distancing etc. have seeped into the mindset of our global community. Travel requirements might not be the same. Vaccination cards, digital apps where everyone as a global citizen be identified and
listed with the level of immunity, or even changes in the passport can take place. People will have to provide proof of their COVID-19 free health status before travelling to another country. Duties of the travelers and the host will also be affected. Travel bans will not be lifted altogether but imposed with a certain checklist of dos and don’ts. Surveillance for medical purposes will be normalized. This is a hot topic given enough spotlight in the recent times considering individual freedom of movement and speech. Nobody would want to be surveilled unless it is for a noble cause of protecting rest of the folks from the infected person. With this objective in mind, some countries had to resort to this option. Whether this attempt fails or succeeds, under the umbrella of providing a better healthcare system, this will be an essential part of our new normal for a lot more countries now. The very idea of the New World Order is a new or varying modification in world politics and distribution of power on a public and private level. Our world was already in trouble enough before the outbreak, COVID-19 has only given it a new definition. Countries have faced huge economic crisis especially the third world countries that were already hanging on the verge of fall. If the numbers of COVID-19 cases keep coming out like today or God forbid if any other outbreak happens, it won’t be difficult to predict that it might point the world geopolitics to a different level. We have witnessed an unprecedented toll on the healthcare workers in the past year, 2020. No matter how we look at it, this trend will not change. We have seen massive burnout, mental and psychological effects on healthcare workers who with or without enough equipment, provided utmost care to the COVID-19 patients. Once after the vaccination when cases hopefully drop down, it will take some time for healthcare professionals to heal and gear back to completely adapt to their new normal. Moreover, the governments are more focused to further and
make the healthcare system proficient now than ever. The advancements, research and innovation will only speed up. Digital healthcare trend will also witness a boom. The new digital behaviors have emerged and will persist for longer than we can imagine. People are more in touch with their communities than the people they used to see in person. The time which used to be spent on preparation to go to work or commute will be saved, and rather spent on with family or friends. Online consumerism, digital businesses, telemedicine and freelance working will also soar. Moreover, the formation of online communities is a newly formed trend. Reliance on social media, blogging, and the need to invent newer and better software will only increase. This also comes with a whole host of challenges i.e. fake news, irrelevant and immense data spread on the part of masses, etc. These behaviors will probably find a check and balance from the governments once the imminent danger is completely at bay. The world being locked down which started off for a few weeks and got extended to a whole year and more has caused drastic changes in the educational and work sector. Nobody had predicted that digital learning could arrive faster than this. Although an ever increasing focus on screen time and digital
availability has increased, the development of new pedagogies, learning trends, hassle free exam placements etc. is still being tried and tested. The work life also evinced the mixture of ease and pressure at the same time. People now ask if a physical meeting is absolutely necessary or not before attending one. These trends might remain present for some time, but are more likely to change unless whole new modus operandi are adapted. With amplifications of such behaviors and trends, the world is conflicted with seeing a paradox of challenges and ease at the same time. They say that history is a third parent. If one thing we can derive out of it, is that the decisions taken on a multilateral level in the face of global risks affect the whole world and its citizens for decades to come in pushing ahead or giving a nose-dive. What’s also critical to understand is that there is still hope for a better and COVID-19 free world. New laws and legislation, philanthropic attitudes and vaccine distribution is adding more meaning to the sustainability of humans on earth. We should practice social distancing, get ourselves vaccinated, and keep the masks on as long as the danger
is lurking. This is our new normal!

A. Yousaf

Written by A. Yousaf

The Author is a Saudi Arabia based educator-turned-writer and goes with her pen name, A. Yousaf. At present, She is working on a debut novel and a non-fiction book concurrently. She also writes poetry occasionally which has been published on national and international level. She tweets @AYousaf2021 and can be reached on ayousaf2021@outlook.com.

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