Socialization in the “New Normal”
Blog post by UNICEF Young Reporters Deni Dagalev (21), Klara Mitevska (17), Veronika Gijovska (16)
Coronavirus has significantly changed the course of (almost) all activities of public life. It’s had a profound inpact on socialization - how we go about our usual daily communication, socializing, playing, learning, how we interact with each other and learn to to behave in a way that is acceptable to society. The word ‘socializing’ has gained new forms of practice and with-it new challenges and difficulties. However, the “new normal” has also spawned a new sence of hope, which would otherwise be taken for granted. Hope that has the potential for exceptional transformative driven us as individuals.
”We are all praying to go back to the “normal” that we used to take for granted. Each of us needs human interaction, converastions with other people, laughter and fun. I am looking forward to the day when instead of “send me the Zoom link”, I’ll hear the question: “What time are we meeting in the center?” Klara (17)
The new forms and ways of socializing, although seemingly passive and monotonous, are vague and unacceptable to some, and simply impossible to others. The privilege to have all the means for adjusting to the new social enviroment in terms of access to the resources required to adapt to the new social dynamics - from enough food in a time of scarcity and job insecurity, equiptment for online learning and communicating with our loved ones, or the means to buy protective equipment to prevent the spread of the virus - is fiction for some.
“When a young person like me is left to spend a long time alone with our thoughts, those thoughts start going in unpredictable directions. Suddenly you realise how stupid it was to scroll on your phone while sitting across your friend at a coffee shop. How wrong you were canceling your plans so you can stay home playing videogames A morning jog in the park doesn’t seem lika a bad idea anymore. Gradually you start creating a new definision for the meaning of life.” Veronika (16)
The recommended precautions for dealing with the coronavirus require us to focus on ourselves, as individuals. Wash your hands. Cover your mouth. Do not entertain guests or attend large gatherings. Precautions that make us turn inwards and focus on the impact of the virus on our individual health and the interruption to our normal daily lives. In respecting the precautionary measures, we learn that the measures themselves do something for us. We see that by taking indidivdual action – changing our own behavior – we have the transformation power within us to drive change for the collective good.
“The situation has made me and a lot of my friends to go back to an old hobby: gaming. I even reconnected with few old friends. We found an alternative virtual universe where people can meet and socialize through their fantasy characters.Movinig forward I wonder how are we going to adapt back to our previous habits? What forms will our socialization take?” Deni (21)
Can we transform this “new normal” into a new social change for all?
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we have the ability to jump out of our daily routines when faced with a crisis, of any nature. This current shift is happening vertically with measures imposed on us in a top-down approach by our governments. But seeing the potential that our individual behavior has on the collective good, we now have the opportunity to decide horizontally and collectively to stop living as if everything is fine, when in fact it is not.
Now we know what can be achived when we individually take action. Now we can raise our voices, and just like we are united in respecting the social distancing measures, we can translate such cohesion to fight against the many other social problems we face. Social problems such as climate change, quality of health systems, access to quality education, continue to exist despite coronavirus. Through the crisis we have see these issues have come to surface and will only get worse if not addressed in a timely and adequate manner.
Therefore, the “new normal”, that voice for change, for improvement, for all living well instead of better “than others” should resonate strongly and strengthen the connection between people and especially young people. The physical isolation and sitting at home, the inability to socialize with our loved ones, to sit at our school desks or play on sports fields, can simply translate into a new hope, a new spark where we all unite and collectively seek solutions for a better and fairer life for all. For now, we are starting from our homes, alone, but over time together we can slowly march towards the highest peaks, towards the core of social reforms.
Blogs written by UNICEF Young Reporters are part of a UNICEF volunteer initiative to give young people the space to share their own views on topics important to them. The work of the Young Reporters during COVID-19 pandemic is partly funded by USAID.