We have forgotten what it’s like to live without the fear of this virus

FACES AND VOICES OF COVID-19

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 September) — Wait, what time is it? What day is it today? What month are we on? Should I even dare question how many decades have passed? Has the world finally been reduced to what can only be described as a catastrophic wasteland? Am I possibly the last survivor who is now tasked to continue living, trudging along this desolate planet in search of purpose?

They call it a pandemic. I prefer the term “apocalypse.”

Yes, it felt as though I was in a post-apocalyptic scenario at that very moment. However, as I reached for my phone to seek the answers to my previous questions, I only ended up finding out that it’s a Monday, it’s 2021, there’s still COVID, and I missed my 7 a.m. class.

One of the things that I can most definitely say in regards to how the pandemic has affected not only me, but everyone else, is the fact that we have lost the concept of time along with the manner of how the world used to function. It’s been a year and a half since this pandemic caused a nationwide lockdown, forcing people into their homes and keeping them there unless going out was necessary enough.

Things have changed drastically to the point that our old lifestyle, or what we would go so far as calling “the old normal,” is nothing but a memory we can barely remember. We have forgotten what it’s like to live without the fear of this virus taking hold of us and threatening our health. Time either moves too fast or too slow, making the day of the week indecipherable to the point that Wednesday feels like reaching the end of the week.

“It’s probably because we’ve been cooped up at home for years,” my friend complained. “Now time seems to have become just as stagnant as our current state.” It made sense despite knowing how obnoxious the person who said it was. Due to being stuck in the same old house, with the same old people, and with the same old things to do, life has become this constant, predictable loop that we’re all unfortunately trapped in — and there’s no escaping it. I wake up, go to class, do the chores, deal with my requirements, and then go to sleep only to start from the beginning again. It’s a paradox of the mundane, and there’s no breaking out of it unless the pandemic miraculously ends.

One other thing that I find incredibly taxing to deal with is the change from face-to-face learning to online learning. After experiencing it for a couple of months and hearing the complaints I got from my friends who have been at it for years now, I can safely say that physically being in school is entirely different from having a class in google meets. The workload is, by far, so much worse considering how the professors have no choice but to rely their grades on requirements. There’s also the issue with the internet connection and its lack of stability.

Whether it be my own, my classmate’s, or even my professor’s, there is no telling when the wifi will suddenly go out or weaken. The lectures would end up choppy, and not a single thing will be understood from it all because of the poor connection. Although this system managed to work for a year, it doesn’t make it any less brutal.

Aside from my experiences, a few people also opened about the changes in their lives since the pandemic started. One of which is a friend of mine whose father works in the television industry, most specifically ABS-CBN. When ABS-CBN was shut down in accordance with the demands of President Rodrigo Duterte, my friend’s dad was only one of many people who lost their jobs. Getting fired so suddenly without any means of preparation was one thing, but finding a way to keep your family financially stable amidst the current situation is a whole other thing. It’s hard when you are limited to opportunities that are handled virtually. Jobs like that of my friend’s dad, a writer for multiple shows in ABS-CBN, require him to go outside and be amongst a big group of people. The show needed his presence to oversee how his script was being executed. However, such a job is challenging, especially when you aren’t allowed to go outside and be near people in general.

Since the ABS-CBN shutdown was announced, my friend’s father struggled to pursue projects he could work on and somehow managed to find something regardless of the pandemic and lockdown. It didn’t last long, however. After risking filming for a new show on another network that lasted for a week, it was eventually discontinued because of the rise in COVID cases and the much stricter lockdown. Looking at it now, it’s not even just those in ABS-CBN who lost their jobs. Many others eventually lost theirs to COVID as establishments were forced to shut down due to seeing no need to keep it running if everybody was on lockdown, and people were discouraged from being so physically close to one another.

The pandemic’s impact on this country is significant enough to change people’s lives entirely, and unfortunately, it wasn’t even for the better. Honestly, the one positive impact I can pick out from the pile of negatives is the way the country adapted to the change. Prime examples I can mention are how people can do grocery shopping virtually now and how restaurants that generally don’t do deliveries have somehow worked out a way to adapt to the “new norm.” Those who can’t find a proper job have resorted to creating things and selling them online for others to purchase. Even in the face of a seismic shift in lifestyle, people could still generate a solution that works for everyone; a proper means of survival.

Just like every character in a post-apocalyptic world.

(Alhanna Hiyas G. Solana is an AB Psychology student at the Ateneo de Davao University)

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