I remember it as Friday, 13 March 2020. Yes, Friday the 13th. To me, that was when the world shut down. It was two years ago that we picked up our kids at school — and on the way home, we got an email that said school was closing in-person activities the following Monday. News outlets discussed the pandemic gripping the US. [In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Covid-19 measures on 15 March 2020.]
We really didn’t know what to expect. We thought we could hole up at home for three weeks or so, and things would be back to normal. Two years later, that seems like such a naïve idea.
For most of the US, things are reverting back to a semblance of normal as mask restrictions are being lifted and large gatherings return. Even large-scale media conferences are back, with South by Southwest starting this weekend.
It got me thinking back to those first six months. I was amazed at how comfortable it actually all felt. Each day we went about our activity in a work-from-home way and then we spent time as a family. There were very few external demands, so we were gifted with quality time as a family.
In my house, we watched movies and played games. We would FaceTime relatives in other cities and organise Zoom Trivia nights with our local friends. You could watch your favourite musical artists performing in the comfort of their own homes for free, all while enjoying a glass of wine because you didn’t have to go anywhere.
The pandemic created a renewed sense of community, and neighbors would talk more, albeit socially distanced in the driveway or the cul-de-sac. Everything slowed down and we were able to take a collective breath. It actually felt really nice if you were able to ignore the concern about getting sick.
Fast-forward two years
Fast-forward two years, and here we are, looking forward to getting together again. I wonder if we are so excited to get back to normal that we may completely overlook what was so great and so freeing about the pandemic.
We talk a lot about balance, but do we really know what it means? Balance does not mean being extreme one way one day and then offsetting that with the extreme opposite on a different day. Balance means we take care of our bodies and our minds at the same pace as we take care of our workload and our checklist. Balance means recognising what is important to you and taking care of that as a priority.
We can’t get overshadowed by a desire to be ‘normal’ again. As it was pointed out to me recently, the definition of normal has changed forever. The world that existed in 2019 is no longer the world that will survive into 2022 and beyond.
We are raising a generation of children who experienced a global pandemic and may yet see another one in their lifetime. The way we bounce back and come out of this past pandemic will teach them how to live their lives for years to come.
I hope we maintain the sense of community that blossomed during the last two years. I hope we are able to appreciate things in a new light. That is a worthwhile education to come from this past two years, and gives me hope for the future.
Cory Treffiletti is SVP at FIS. He has been a thought leader, executive and business driver in the digital media landscape since 1994. In addition to authoring a weekly column on digital media, advertising and marketing since 2000 for MediaPost‘s Online Spin, Treffiletti has been a successful executive, media expert and/or founding team member for a number of companies, and published a book, Internet Ad Pioneers, in 2012.
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