No matter how much we wished for it, the end of the pandemic is still too far within our realistic grasp.
It’s that sudden halt on almost every aspect of our life which I think hits us the most. From being completely free to partially shackled with limitations out of fear for our safety and health. Then comes the next level, when it starts to affect us personally. It could be getting a pay cut or less benefits from the company we work for, losing coworkers over layoffs, or a close relative contracted the virus. Without trying to undermine the overall effect, we managed to get through that – albeit some harder than most. We’ve survived 20 months now. That annoying phrase, “the new normal”, is beginning to take over our daily vocabulary. Most of it is because it’s terrifyingly real.
One of the most obvious (and saddest) news out of all this is how the businesses around us are suffering. Restaurants missing their diners, stores and markets without shoppers, hotels having no guests at all. Bali as we know it, is nearly non-existent. Gone has the vibrant lights of Petitenget and Legian, the crowds of countless chic beach or pool clubs, and the ever bustling weekend brunches in our favorite resorts.
But as I stated earlier, there’s a new normal. And the culture of consumerism also shifted drastically. Online stores are the get go now, with social media platforms as their flagship window displays. Thus the businesses adapted. The swerve towards both internet-based as well as no contact transactions paved the way for more innovations, such as home delivery or private services. Retails close their physical stores indefinitely and prepare their warehouse specifically for mail orders. Restaurants serve their fan-favorite dishes for takeaways only.
In a way, it shows perseverance and dedication during a hard time. It will also open up another chapter in the new normal: if what they’re doing is more sustainable (without the need of spending extra on physical needs such as rent, renovation, maintenance), do we still need the stores and restaurants? Or to be exact, is it still ethical to crave physical existence, when the distance is no longer a problem?