Twenty Years Later: Looking Back on COVID-19

Suspicious virus / Contributed photo

Today’s date is Jan. 20, 2040, twenty years after the first case of the novel coronavirus was reported in the United States. For those of you who lived through that time with me, you know how much the world has changed. Fashion, politics, TV, everything was impacted by the lockdown of 2020.

Personal space used to be something that was purely a pleasantry. Bumping into someone in the grocery store would be, at worst, impolite. Now, in some cases, people pull out six foot long poles and poke you away until you maintain a comfortable distance. These poles may make some feel comfortable, but after they caused several injuries, a movement was led for them to be banned. An anonymous reader sent in a quote detailing their experience with the social distancing poles: “I’ve always been a klutz, and it’s never been much of an issue until I got assaulted with one of these poles”.

Last weekend, I attended my best friend’s online wedding. Believe it or not, this used to be unheard of. Over the last few decades, everyone has become so proficient at using Zoom that most in-person meetings became archaic. In-person shopping malls have been out of business for years for this same reason. Worldwide closures forced people to begin to shop online. Eventually, the stores began to cater to that style of shopping, which is why brick and mortar stores are now dropping like flies.

Some of you old-timers like me might still be a little bit shocked when you see politicians awkwardly bump feet at the end of a debate. Back in my day, we did something called a “handshake”. It was the same as the now mainstream foot bump, except we used our hands! “If I’m being honest, it still surprises me sometimes!” A current United States senator said in an interview last week, on the topic of foot bumping, “I keep thinking my fellow congressmen and women are going to kick me when they stick out their foot like that”.

This one may surprise you, but animated shows used to be much less popular. When there was a public outcry about several missed seasons of Survivor due to COVID-19, they decided to come back as an animated show, and it caught on. One immensely popular example is the uprise of animated news channels. After a small outbreak of coronavirus on the set of a notable news station, most channels switched to animated. A few resisted the change, but eventually saw that they were quickly becoming obsolete. People seem to prefer to have current world events delivered to them by these friendly caricatures.

Fashion has changed drastically in the past decades as well, and I think a global lockdown contributed to that in ways that we never expected. High fashion models strutting down the runway in yoga pants and sweatshirts are a relatively new thing. From March to December of 2020, virtually no one got dressed up (as they rarely left their homes, due to the lockdown order). Everyone’s online shopping carts were filled with nothing but loungewear. This decision influenced runway style, turning the high fashion scene into one filled with messy buns and minimal, smudged makeup.

We’ve come a long way since 2020. But as the times change, we change with it. Another twenty years from now, the people of the future will probably look back on our times as outdated and odd as well. Humans are constantly adapting, and we’re prepared for whatever challenge comes next. As the saying goes, “It can’t get any worse than 2020!”