In this video, I share four thoughts about returning to normal after the COVID-19 crisis.
Getting to the New Normal
First, there is no such thing as normal. On social media, people keep asking:
"When will things get back to normal?"
I wonder what that really means. It occurs to me that change is normal, and crisis speeds up change. After a crisis we don't go back to the way things were, we go to a new place - life after the crisis. In crisis management we call this the new normal.
We aren't craving a return to normal, we really want to get back to work and reduce the restrictions that make our life more scary and less comfortable. But we have to do this while taking care not to infect our friends, neighbours, and families. It's a balance and we shouldn't be caviler about the choices we make. That could be tragic.
The new normal will include a measure of social concern that is not clear in many social media posts. This might actually be a good thing in the long term.
Timing is Everything!
Second, timing is everything. We are all eager for this to be over. Impatient people often make terrible choices:
"Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!"
We have to be careful how we respond as restrictions ease. Just because we can go shopping, eat at a restaurant, or get a haircut, doesn't mean we should.
If you are at higher risk, you will want to be more careful about when and how you do these things. Keep an eye on the information from reliable sources and wait until things calm down a bit. This is the time for careful reflection about your risk, balanced against the benefits of your choices.
These risks are real. Pretending it won't affect you is beyond naïve. When these things hit, the effects can be devastating. So a measured, thoughtful move to the new normal is just common sense.
Caution is Not Panic!
In social media I constantly see folks moaning about COVID panic. They say we are overreacting and never needed restrictions in the first place. Bluntly, they are wrong. The data shows this. Being careful is not overreacting. This virus maims and kills and until it has finally passed, we will not understand its full impact.
After a crisis, when the risk mitigation has worked, we have avoided the worst outcomes, and things get to to the new normal; folks often complain that it was all too much.
The crisis manager is never a hero. If awful stuff doesn’t happen, they are accused of overreacting. If awful stuff happens, they are accused of not acting soon enough. On the COVID front I see both complaints, often from the same person in the same post.
Be Careful Who You Listen To
Finally, be careful who you listen to. There are instant-experts everywhere. The same folks who were "experts" on climate are now "experts" on COVID. Access to a keyboard and the internet does not make anyone an expert in disease control.
Friends have shared videos or media pieces claiming COVID is nothing to worry about. "In fact, it’s all a hoax. An actual doctor says so!" This is outright nonsense. Ultimately, the body of scientific knowledge and data will tell us the full impact of COVID. Cherry picking data and chasing “experts” who agree with you is foolish at the best of times and it can be fatal in a crisis.
So, once again we need to be careful about who we listen to. We must not base critical health decisions on the word of some guy on social media wearing scrubs, who claims to a doctor. This is typical social media garbage and now is not the time to fall prey to that game. Listen to genuine experts. Be careful about your choices, and stay safe.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about getting to the new normal. Please comment below.