Critical aspects of the Covid pandemic life that we should keep and preserve
While it may be too soon to suggest that the Covid-19 pandemic is over, there are hopeful signs in South Africa that it is beginning to wane. As tough and distressing as the past two years have been, there are aspects of pandemic life we would do well to retain permanently.
Societal change in the face of crises can, at times, be a blessing in disguise. Physical distancing and tighter social hygiene may, in fact, be boons rather than oppressive hindrances.
Yes, the nightly curfew is — in situations outside a health emergency — the hallmark of a terrifyingly fascist regime. Yes, it makes life needlessly hard for night-shift workers and the owners of establishments whose profits depend on people drinking alcohol until the early hours of the morning.
But I’m sticking to my guns on this one, and not even for the virtuous reasons you might hope — the way it curbs hospital admissions, for instance. I want a permanent curfew because it is a gift straight from the heavens for people like me who find the majority of social interactions basically intolerable after around 90 minutes.
“Oh, look at that,” you’d say, theatrically glancing at your watch or phone at circa 8.30pm. “Gonna have to call it a night if I want to get home by curfew.”
Twenty minutes later you’d be tucked up in bed with a series, without having to fend off any protests about your leaving a gathering before the first star was even visible in the night sky. The curfew was even more of a win when it came to guests in your own home who are prone to linger well beyond the course of organically flowing conversation. No need for rudeness; no need to stand up and start showily cleaning glasses away. Everybody knew that hang-out time had fixed boundaries with which we had no choice but to comply.
I already miss the curfew with all my heart, and I know I’m not the only one. I urge President Cyril Ramaphosa to rethink its lifting, as I’m confident that he too benefited from having a get-out-of-jail-free card for limiting the duration of nocturnal presidential socialising.
Banning almost any in-person work-related event
There are many events that simply cannot be adequately staged through online attendance. Weddings, funerals, music concerts, live sports — I get it. You can’t participate in any of these things through your laptop and leave feeling truly fulfilled, and that’s been one of the bleaker lessons of the pandemic.
When it comes to work, though: different story. Yes, Zoom meetings suck, but have you forgotten how much worse meatspace meetings are? Where you have to wear appropriate clothes on both halves of your body, not just the top? Where you can’t turn your camera off and slurp down the leftovers of last night’s stir-fry at 11am? Where you have to be awake at all moments?
It’s not just work meetings. This applies to practically everything in a professional setting which involves groups of people coming together. Conferences, for instance. Why did we ever bother shelling out tens of thousands of rands to hire a venue and put a bottle of water and a complimentary pen on every seat? Just throw it online. It costs about R5 and everyone’s a lot nicer to each other when they’re not mad with hanger from sitting for six hours in a dimly-lit auditorium.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to go to conferences in order to network in person, I can’t help you. Maybe just send loads of messages on LinkedIn instead? I have only the haziest idea of what LinkedIn is for, but that seems to be pretty much what it’s about.
A prohibition on anything that continues to be quite revolting
Consider the once jolly tradition of blowing out birthday candles on a cake. Now consider everything we’ve learnt from our two-year crash course in epidemiology. Particularly consider the troubling word “droplets”. Imagine those droplets, ejected by your huffing mouth, gently settling all over the surface of your delicious cake. Now imagine forcing everyone present to effectively ingest your saliva with a chaser of icing. Disgusting.
We have a chance to put a stop to this now. If we all immediately stop blowing out birthday candles, young children won’t know it was ever a thing. Since young children are the only demographic allowed to be sad about no longer getting a chance to spit all over confectionery, that’s the problem taken care of.
There are countless other examples of sickening pre-pandemic habits we can end once and for all. Shops making available makeup testers, for instance. Imagine smearing your lips with an oily stick someone else has just used to coat their interior mouth-glands. Would you like to tongue-kiss the customer before you? I hope so, because you essentially just did.
Before the pandemic, it wasn’t our fault. We just didn’t know any better. Or we did, sort of vaguely, but not in a really visceral way. Now that we all know practically everything about disease, it’s time to stop living like Europeans in the Dark Ages lobbing their own shit into the street and then wondering why everyone keeps dying of cholera. Let’s pull it together, people! DM168
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.
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