Habituation to telework, to school by Zoom, to virtual bonds of friendship and love; it overlaps with the fear, confusion and phobia that, for some people, represents the fact of leaving the house converted into a refuge. What will the return to the old routines be like? What are the costs of readjusting to a normality that is not fully offered –because the pandemic has not ended– but is already beginning to emerge? How are links reconfigured? The process of mediatization of daily life that arrived in March 2020, begins to be reversed for a large part of the population. Little by little, the face-to-face begins to prevail over the virtual and the sensations experienced by individuals are varied.

The psychologist and psychoanalyst Florencia González argues that there is great difficulty in projecting futures. “I think we are going to need a lot of time to redefine what happened. Nobody knows when the pandemic ends, and that uncertainty is closely associated with states of restlessness, anxiety, fear, panic, sleep disorders. There are, fundamentally, two views: there are those who feel dissatisfied with returning to work and their pre-school routines because they had, finally, found the return to this present of home format; and, on the other hand, there are those who were wishing with all their might to escape from their homes ”, observes the professor at the UBA’s Faculty of Psychology.

-Should people prepare for a new post-pandemic normal?

“Personally, I find it very difficult to distinguish a new normal from an old normal. If you visit a bar, you will see that the distancing measures are not met; if you go to an office, the chair that should be left to separate people is taken; If you go to a closed public space, you see that ventilation is little respected. Ultimately, beyond the State recommending modes of behavior, care is at the expense of the subjective, personal care of each one. Ultimately, it is about seeing how we readjust, how we readjust ”.

“There are some people who do not want to know anything about going back to normal life, which they had before the pandemic. In addition to those who do not want to, there are those who do not believe that it is possible to return to the routine as they knew it ”, says Yago Franco, president of the College of Psychoanalysts. And he continues: “To know where we are going, it is essential to see where we come from. And the reality is that we come from a world whose ways of life came to an abrupt halt and the links between people were formalized. Our relationships are with a chinstrap, we greet each other with a fist, we arrange to meet outdoors or in closed spaces with ventilation, everything is regulated ”.

In addition to the fears, it is added how comfortable it means to have adapted to new realities. For Franco, underlying that comfort, there is something else. “Comfort is what appears on the surface, but in truth what is underneath is the tranquility that it means for people to stay indoors. Homes often function as shelters ”. After this definition, he shares a personal experience: “A few days ago there was a plumbing problem in my building and those who came to fix it explained that these problems appear more and more frequently because people spend much more time than before inside their homes” . It is understandable: at this stage of the pandemic, although it is allowed to go out more with the care of the case, many prefer to take shelter.

What will that return be like?

The essayist, teacher and writer Alejandro Kaufman reflects and suggests that this question can only be answered from the imagination.

-One method that I followed throughout the pandemic was to avoid prediction and prescription, that is, advice. As if someone knows something that others don’t, because if there is something that the coronavirus put into question it was established knowledge. It forced us, perhaps as never before, to live from day to day, to go step by step and face situations as they presented themselves. Talk of a post-pandemic began very immediately when things were just beginning. I have no idea what will happen and what the retraining will be like, but there are two main problems.

And then he continues with his reasoning, detailing the couple of conflicts that will have to be resolved if the objective is “to recover something of what we had and what was lost.” “On the one hand, we cannot know what the outcome of all this will be like. Vaccination worldwide is a very slow process: in Argentina it seems that we are only concerned with our country, as if the rest of the world did not exist and as if the pandemic were not a global phenomenon. The world is interconnected, as long as it is not immunized in a more democratic way this will not end. We still do not know what kind of relationship we want to establish with this virus, so far it is not to eliminate it but to stop its presence ”, observes Kaufman.

And, on the other hand, society owes the mourning for the deaths of 107 thousand people. Death means, in some cases, a family breakdown, in others the helplessness of people who were orphans, widows or alone, or in others it symbolizes the end of a love or friendship bond. “Ties that are unrecoverable and that require a job as soon as possible. There is enormous social pain and general moral damage, an increase in inequality. Those who have government responsibility must develop good tact in the face of a dire situation ”, completes the professor from the University of Buenos Aires and the National University of Quilmes.

Work and telework

Many people who switched to teleworking, when they are summoned by their employers to gradually return to face-to-face activities, do not want to return. “I have many patients who will not return to the offices, they prefer to work virtually. Beyond the fear of the virus, they feel comfortable and avoid the trip around the city. I think that, at the government level, in fact, guides should be planned that tell people how to go back to work, how to go back to school. It is not easy at all ”, points out Franco.

“Flexibility will bring many and varied responses among those who must return to a certain routine of the past. In many cases, inhibition is noticed, others feel angry about leaving the comfort of being at home. Other people experience a half manic joy related to an uncontrolled desire to escape from their homes. So, after face-to-face work, they get together to have a drink in bars when they didn’t before, ”González points out. They experience a present of unbridled freedom, in the face of months of fear, care and internal repression: “The ideal would be not to be at one pole or the other, because the reality is that the pandemic did not go away.”

In addition to work, school is another space that becomes essential to rethink. “Parents go crazy with school, they are disoriented because every day the virtuality and face-to-face plans change. Although sometimes there is a tendency to think otherwise, at this point there are kids who don’t want to know anything about returning in person ”, Franco says based on his experience with his patients. González agrees with this point of view and completes: “At present we see many adolescents who, upon returning to school, become inhibited or show some symptoms. You have to think that if before the pandemic young people experienced virtually mediated relationships, with the pandemic everything was enhanced much more. With social networks, you cut out what you want to show about your body, but in person, that is not possible ”.

Body present

With the presence, you are there, you expose yourself with your entire body. And, both at work and at school, there are different feelings that come with seeing someone after a long time. “With the body present, it is not only what I write, what I post, the photo that I choose to show, but it is the person in an integral way, without a filter. And there, too, there is a contradiction, because it is about bodies that are present, but that have to continue to keep their distance ”, emphasizes the researcher UBACyT. Until the epidemiological situation allows it, those hugs and kisses will be relegated for a while longer.

The contradiction is served, then, humans build links from co-presence. Even love is regulated, dating apps are used more often than before. It is that the links were reformulated and new codes were installed. “We are in a situation of permanent contact with the disease, with death and in the midst of a hyper-stimulation of information, which reaches us from all sides. We have enormous difficulty in being able to think about the future and that distresses us. Of which I am sure that the rehabilitation will involve a gigantic effort ”, Franco ventures.

-How did the pandemic affect you on a personal level?

-The pandemic completely upset me. I work in university teaching, a situation that from one day to the next radically changed. The fact that people are dying from a virus and that one is also susceptible to it creates unease. I imagine a gradual normalization, which is already happening: there are activities that one did not do a few months ago and now do them. A certain way of relating to social life and the changing environment. In any case, the different positions and attitudes towards the coronavirus produced definitive alterations in relationships that, perhaps, were lifelong.

Kaufman explains and then shares examples to show how the coronavirus, ultimately, what caused was the damage to the social bond.

“There are many people who have noticed others, but there are so many others who have had individualistic, denialist attitudes, indifferent to what was happening to the whole, of incomprehension and lack of permeability. That is not free and it costs a lot to rebuild ”, he says. Lifelong friends who acted differently in the pandemic, couples with different perspectives and cultures of care, relatives who protected their older adults with different degrees of rigor. Ideological distances and attitudes towards a different scenario contributed to exhibiting gaps that will be difficult to narrow when everything recovers its course.

What’s left

There are some routines that are going to remain and I think it is good that they are. I am thinking about hand washing, surface disinfection, as well as the use of a chinstrap in crowded and poorly ventilated spaces.. Above all, for people with underlying pathologies, or the elderly ”, says Leda Guzzi, infectious disease doctor of the Argentine Society of Infectious Diseases (SADI). “Perhaps today the need for ventilation is imperative, but in the future it will also be essential that this custom remains: spaces must be ventilated. Also, in the future, sharing utensils such as light bulbs, cutlery, plates and glasses should be avoided ”. The rounds of mate will continue to work even if everyone has their own.

Some habits that Guzzi lists could continue to be preserved when, in later stages, the circulation and the encounter of people can relax even more, the chinstrap is not mandatory and the social distance is no longer so necessary. “Another thing that I find interesting and that can remain as learning is that when we are sick we cannot go to work. Maybe we don’t feel so bad, but going in person can make us infect our colleagues. Teleworking not only reduces the probability of acquiring infectious respiratory diseases, but also reduces the stress of traveling and doing it in crowded conditions ”, argues the doctor. On the other side of the road, there are those who oppose teleworking and emphasize that, on the contrary, working from home causes more stress, by eliminating the boundaries between time for obligations and time for recreation.

The third stage of the opening program presented this Friday by Santiago Cafiero and Carla Vizzotti proposes a total recovery of activities, in which the chinstrap will no longer be mandatory. Only then, without that emblematic accessory of the pandemic, will people’s faces be discovered. Seeing faces again, without a screen through, will also help to recover a bit of the perhaps suspended traits of humanity. The horizon is already clearer.

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