Are you woke?
Have you been zoom bombed?
Who is canceling culture and body shaming?
Welcome to the newspeak of the New Normal. It’s not easy to define (and embrace) the New Normal. The only thing we know is that life has changed in so many ways that it’s hard to decide what to do next.
“People have difficulty with change,” says New York Psychologist Nancy Allegretti. “The New Normal is still an unknown. What will it look and feel like? How will people adapt? To make matters worse, it’s constantly changing.”
Conspiracy theorists, social media tribalism, and elected leaders often cling to bizarre ideas that flame emotions. Think QAnon “auditors” called Cyber Ninjas trying to overturn an election; “Proud Boys” storming the Capitol Building; and claims that all Democrats are members of a Satan-worshipping cabal of pedophiles.
New Normal “reality” is often couched in fantasy, like the western wildfires are caused by huge lasers ignited by aliens or the government. Climate change has nothing to do with it.
Truth, lies, and a breathless battle for your attention is at the heart of the New Normal. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the baffling fights over Covid, face masks, and vaccinations. Even President Biden took off his mask when he addressed reporters.
“What kind of message are you sending by wearing a mask even to the podium?” A reporter asked.
“By watching me take it off,” Mr. Biden grinned, “and not putting it back on until I get inside.”
On that sunny day in Washington D.C. the new CDC guidelines were released. If you’re fully vaccinated, outdoors, and not in a big crowd, you no longer need to wear a mask. You can do “safer” activities like gather indoors with other vaccinated people without masks and social distancing. You can even travel in the United States without getting tested and self-quarantined.
Some call it the rewards of being vaccinated.
This was announced while Michigan numbers spiraled upward, India is devastated by a new variant, and millions of Americans refuse “the shot.”
It’s like playing tug-of-war.
“I don’t trust other people to behave themselves,” says a fully-vaccinated California woman. “So I act like I haven’t been vaccinated and I’m surrounded by careless, ridiculous, and stupid people who refuse to take shots that will protect themselves and others.”
Is trust – or lack of trust – also part of the New Normal?
Do you listen to Dr. Fauci, QAnon, the CDC, anti-vaxxers, Tucker Carlson, your next door neighbor, or social media? Even the best informed can be confused when wading in the New Normal.
“I trust Fauci. I trust the CDC. I trust the President.” A fully vaccinated Florida man observes. “But not the people sitting next to me in a restaurant.”
Then there are the lawmakers. In over 40 states, legislators are taking steps to ban Covid-19 vaccine requirements. A recent NPR/Marist poll found that one in four Americans would refuse a vaccine. Vaccine hesitancy is a very real problem especially when the goal is herd immunity.
Everyone has a story. As Josh K. Elliott wrote in Global News, “You don’t have to believe in Covid-19 for it to kill you.” A 30-year old man died of Covid after going to a party to prove that the virus was a hoax. Students threw a Covid party to see who got sick first (the winner). A South Dakota nurse tweeted “the ones [Covid patients] that stick out are those who still don’t believe the virus is real.”
Covid Denial is on the list of other popular, often twisted ideas like Holocaust Denial, Climate Change Denial, and Science Denial.
Here’s the truth.
You don’t have to be woke to worry about the New Normal.
Stay tuned for more reports on the New Normal.