5 new social habits created by the pandemic

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The pandemic years represent a time many people would prefer to forget. Although we are finally seeing our way through this global crisis, many of the social habits formed during this time continue and will likely do so for quite some time. 

Although each country reacted differently to the virus, something similar happened globally: social norms and interactions changed and evolved to accommodate the new health concerns. Many wonder if our old normal will ever return, and many experts are suggesting that it likely never will. 

Below, we take a closer look at some of the social habits that have arisen from the pandemic and whether they’re likely to continue in the long term. 

1. Remote Interactions

One of the biggest shifts caused by the pandemic is the increase in remote work arrangements. In an effort to slow the spread of the virus, many companies turned to virtual offices to enable employees to work safely but effectively from home. 

Even the process of buying a home can now be done almost entirely online. You can search for and tour homes digitally, with many real estate agents offering virtual tours. You can even obtain a mortgage without ever leaving your couch. 

Not too long ago, these practices were considered a luxury, but employers have discovered significant monetary savings associated with remote work. Because of this, returning to the office on a full-time basis is not likely to happen any time soon. 

2. The Handshake

When the pandemic first began, medical and science professionals told us that shaking hands was dangerous. Doing so could make you sick and contribute to the spread of the virus. It was difficult to train our brains not to automatically stick out our hands in greeting, but these days, handshakes have officially gone the way of the 8-track.

The coronavirus may dwindle and die off eventually, but after years of not shaking hands, it’ll be difficult to forget that at one point, the old handshake was considered a dangerous practice. 

3. Reactions to Sneezing and Coughing

In the past, a sneeze almost always elicited a chorus of “bless you” from anyone in the vicinity. While no one enjoyed being sneezed upon, it wasn’t a natural reaction to head for the hills if someone sneezed or coughed. 

These days, however, if someone coughs or sneezes in public, anyone in the immediate vicinity usually moves away. Some go so far as to direct dirty looks at the offending party. Sneezing or coughing in public is a no-no that’s unlikely to change anytime soon as we have always tended to avoid sick people anyway. 

4. Being Sick at Work

Before the pandemic, employers would recommend that workers stay home if they felt sick. Many people ignored these recommendations and went to work anyway, especially if it was just a slight sniffle. Today, it’s socially unacceptable to go to work if you’re even the slightest bit sick. Whether you test negative for the coronavirus or not, most employers insist you stay home until you’re better. 

5. Avoiding Strangers

Stranger danger has been a thing since we were little, but these days it takes on new meaning. While you may still say hello to people you know, you probably don’t interact closely with strangers. Doing so could mean spreading the virus, so we’re less inclined to get close. The world may seem unfriendly as a result, but it is somewhat safer. 

While social distancing and mask-wearing are now widely accepted practices, other social habits like nixing the handshake and remote working have also arisen thanks to the pandemic. How long these new social norms will last is anyone’s guess.