Analysis of 17th and 18th century pandemics show that outbreaks change society. Social relations and human behavioral patterns are changed forever. We have seen a wide variety of social changes during the COVID-19 pandemic, some of which will leave lasting effects leading to an era of COVID-19.
In this article, I assess some of the changes that we have seen and attempt to predict ways that COVID-19 will change our society.
Social Changes in the Era of COVID-19
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, one would never envisage that we would be observing social distancing. Hugs and handshakes were the tradition. In the past, one could mindlessly attend religious congregations, marriage ceremonies, parties, school, or markets. COVID-19 has ushered in an era where all of these activities and more, are compromised with risk not previously known to contemporary society. Now, these events may be canceled, postponed, held online, or conducted with additional safety precautions such as vaccination mandates or mask requirements.
COVID-19 did not just alter our day-to-day lives, but it also changed the way we view our own society. It has changed people’’s perspective about life, in both the negative and positive vein. Education, technology, and politics have all been impacted greatly by COVID-19. We all want things to go back to the same, yet the truth is what has happened cannot be undone—we can only move past it and adapt to social change.
Education in the Era of COVID-19
In the era of COVID-19, education has been one of the most impacted areas of social life. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of out-of-school children has increased across the globe. Providing these children with access to get back in the classroom will have to be a priority moving forward.
Even in cases where children have returned to school, we are going to have an entire generation of students who received 1-2 years of their education at their homes through programs like Zoom or Google classroom. This reality is truly unprecedented!
We will continue to learn how the education system adapts and changes in the era of COVID-19. There are still debates about how to properly implement education in this era, but we do know that technology will certainly have a large role in the future. In addition to Zoom and Google, people have used technology to provide educational experiences when they havn’t been available in the classroom.
Technology in the Era of COVID-19
We can look back at the early COVID-19 lockdowns and joke about the intimacy we had with our technological tools. For many, phones and computers offered companionship, entertainment, and connectivity. More than ever, people embraced the world of technology for communication and leisurely activities. But how much of our reliance on technology has been socially transformed?
Even social media seemed to be a positive spot in society. A lot of families have been separated during this era. There have been lockdowns, quarantines, travel restrictions, and other changes that have limited the ability of people to see and interact with their loved ones. Even with these changes, technology taught us how much we can survive as one. Perhaps it was food and income scarcity, fear, boredom or loss, but we survived it together.
Of course, in any matter of technology, those without access were likely to face additional hardship and disadvantage as a result of the pandemic, which will be another major social problem we need to address in the era of COVID-19.
Social Problems in the Era of COVID-19
I have already mentioned a couple of social problems that plague the era of COVID-19. We absolutely need to get our young people back in school, and we need to be sure that everyone has access to the incredible technological innovations of this era. Solutions to these problems will not be simple, but through diligent work by sociologists and others, we will certainly adapt and overcome. So, what are some other social problems that have become relevant in the era of COVID-19?
Mask and Vaccination Mandates
Not everyone has resisted mask and vaccination mandates. Some will remember the face mask as the fashion-in-vogue during this era. We may also remember how we found joy in anguish, by sewing masks that were a match with our dresses. I had heard of masks for travelers, laborers, or the asthmatic, but now the narrative has changed. Masks are worn by those who are on the quest for survival. Everyone who wants to live through this deadly virus has adopted this gear.
Well, not quite everyone. In some places like the United States and Canada, some groups of people have fervently resisted masks (and more recently vaccinations), simply because they were mandated. To these people the mandate symbolically represents oppression. They believe if they have to do something because of a mandate, then they no longer possess freedom. Regardless of the accuracy of this belief, the fact remains that mandates have caused considerable protests and resistance in certain areas of the world.
Other Social Problem During COVID-19
Economic hardship has been one of the key problems of COVID-19. Workers around the world have been fired, laid off, or quit. Not to mention all the workers who died of the virus. Companies went out of business and governments attempted to compensate for poor and failing economies, but many people have been forced to the wall due to poverty.
Economic distress has also contributed to other social ails in society. Crime such as robbery have become typical in some locations, and the social changes have caused stress on families. Crises broke out within families during this time leading to an increase in divorce and domestic violence, in some countries.
Depression and mental health have also become an increasingly important discussion. There have been people who were not killed by COVID-19, but that died at their own hands. Worse yet, when governments have attempted to provide support for individuals during COVID-19, the money is often mismanaged and embezzled. This corruption has caused some people to adopt a survival of the fittest mentality.
The era of COVID-19 has seen some extreme economic swings and as a result many people have faced poverty, often to its extreme. Those facing economic hardship have been hit the hardest by social problems such as crime, domestic violence, mental health, and corruption. These are the social problems that we are currently facing in the Era of COVID-19.
Final Thoughts on the Era of COVID-19
The statement made by Arabian sociologist, Ibn Khaldun, in his book Muqaddama that “in any circumstance of pandemic, the fate of life will change, and the change, which may be positive or negative,” proves how much pandemics affect social behavior.” The same adheres in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have seen humanity come together for innovation, education, and personal support. Some of the social changes in the era of COVID-19 will continue to advance our society. Through technology and education we can make this new era one of equity and unity. Only by coming together can we repair our society for the future.