Moving forward, adjusting to life’s new normal

For a little over a month, life has been disrupted in ways that few of us would have imagined — and with a surprising and widespread quickness.

Technology has helped us adjust to all the changes, restrictions and challenges, but is it just a temporary blip on the radar or something that will have a more permanent impact on our lives?

Although almost everyone longs to return to a sense of normalcy, there is little doubt that at least some of the changes will have a lasting impact.

While there is an inevitable yearning to return to “business as usual,” we must also be smart and exercise caution to avoid unnecessary risks.

Technology can certainly help us during the transition and will play an important role in helping keep people safe and healthy, allowing a blend of distance learning, streaming video meetings and online shopping along with more traditional interactions.

This technology already existed, but never before has our world depended on it to such an extent, and it’s hard not to wonder just how our lives will continue to be impacted going forward.

After the flu pandemic that swept across the world a little over a century ago, once quarantines ended and restrictions were lifted, people’s lives in many ways did go back to the way they had been before.

Two big reasons for that were that people wanted to put the social isolation and restrictions behind them, of course, but also there wasn’t the technology in place to make sweeping changes to the way people went about their daily lives.

That technology certainly exists today; new technologies in automation, communication and transportation that might have gradually changed our lives are probably on the fast track today.

Our lives also changed in many ways after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — especially in regard to air travel — but the majority of people didn’t stay home for an extended period in the immediate aftermath of that tragedy. Yes, our lives changed in dramatic and transformative ways but certainly not in such widespread ways that we are all experiencing during this crisis.

A big question is where do we go from here, and what will the new normal look like six weeks, six months or a year or two from now.

Hopefully, people will be able to go about their business and live with minimal disruptions while also being able to enjoy the benefits of leading safer, healthier lives.

It’s hard to predict just what long-term changes we will see as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, but you can be certain that there will be profound change.

Hopefully there will be a blend of caution with optimism, self sufficiency with cooperation and the implementation of new technologies with our recognition that freedom and respect for an individual’s dignity is important, too.

An important part of life is making adjustments and learning from our experiences and 2020 has definitely given us plenty of challenges to learn from so far.

Jeff Osborne is editor of the Refugio County Press and the News of San Patricio.

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