New challenges call for new methods of adaptation in our active pandemic world. What was first dismissed by many as an illness that would soon resolve itself has now penetrated most countries, communities, and classes. People everywhere are seeing their ways of life disintegrate under indefinite lockdowns and suspensions of schooling, work, and social activities. The uncertain nature of the COVID19 pandemic means that the world cannot just put itself on pause and set a date for returning to normal life–instead, we are having to make changes to the ways we go about our necessary daily tasks in order to coexist with this global pandemic as long as we need to.
While each nation is dealing with the pandemic in its own way, and each is seeing different contagion and containment based on many different factors, there are a few common occurrences in most affected areas: there are people that are out of work temporarily and permanently, children are out of school, and nonessential outings are being limited and discouraged. So what does this mean for the lifestyles of all these people who are being confined to their homes for the foreseeable future?
Unfortunately, all this increased time at home is also creating societal rifts and problems at home. Amanda Taub of the New York Times reports that domestic violence is “flourishing in the conditions created by the pandemic”–namely, the increased amount of time that families are spending in close quarters and the stress and anxiety that prevails in these uncertain times. She cites increased calls to domestic violence hotlines around the world, as well as spikes in governments’ reporting of national domestic violence cases. Furthermore, the general state of anxiety and uncertainty is having an adverse effect on mental health worldwide. The World Health Organization lists “loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour” as issues that are expected to increase in the worldwide population during and as a result of this pandemic.
But people are also searching for ways to entertain themselves. Despite the large number of people out of work or receiving limited or no pay during this time, gaming console sales and online streaming site subscriptions have soared. People who used to enjoy social or outdoor hobbies are being forced to change their ways and discover forms of entertainment that they can do entirely inside, away from friends and family. The Nintendo Switch, an otherwise popular but hardly universally owned portable gaming device, is struggling to stay on the shelves, with inventory being bought almost immediately. Clips and images from hit Switch games such as Animal Crossing can often be found on social media of both peers and celebrities alike. What’s more, resellers are reportedly selling the devices at almost twice the retail price. Netflix and other streaming sites have recorded soaring numbers of subscribers and good stock performance despite the bleak stage of the economy. But other means of entertainment are also coming to the forefront, such as home improvement and learning new skills such as painting and language learning. Jigsaw puzzle maker Ravensburger reported sales 370% higher than usual, indicating a staggeringly high number of people taking on this otherwise unassuming passtime. For those who are out of work and school, this tough time may be navigated a little more comfortably with the company of a new hobby or talent.
At UIC, the start of the spring semester means a busy schedule for students, with lecture materials, readings, and coursework showing no signs of letting up just because face-to-face class hours have. Students spend long hours in front of their computers, participating in live lectures and completing attendance and homework assignments. But while there is as of yet little indication of when this pandemic will end and business as usual can return, students are hopefully finding their own ways to manage their time and make the best of the situation at hand.