Friday, December 3

The pandemic is the perfect excuse for bad behavior, so what happens when it ends? | Coronavirus

LLike many parents, I made a vague rule for myself when my children were born, which was never to lie about their health to get out of something. One of the best things about having children is that they give you a solid decade of excuses not to go, do or see something you don’t want, and there is a lot of room to modify the truth within that.

In my mind, however, I drew a firm line between “we have a play date, we can’t come” and the “my son has a fever” card to get out of jail, which, on the outside, The possibility that the universe functioned exactly according to my superstitions seemed too tempting an invitation to fate. I’ll lie, but no, you know, like that.

Along with everything else, the pandemic has altered this particular accommodation and made it more difficult to know where the line is. This applies not only to the excuses one gives to other people, but, more obscurely, to the ones we give ourselves. These days, my first response to almost any demand that is made of me is an incredulous laugh, followed by a wave of hostility. Of course I won’t do that: the pandemic. No, we cannot come, the pandemic. My apartment is a mess, I haven’t done the laundry for two weeks and I keep letting my kids stay up until 10pm. M. On a weekday night. On the other hand, what do you want from me? There is a pandemic, don’t you know?

Part of this is the lassitude brought on by 12 months of canceled plans and I suppose a legitimate psychological response. If action begets action, the reverse is equally true: the less you do, the less you want to do, a maxim that has begun to seem like a strict law of physics. In any given situation, this far from rolling locks, your energy will find the shortest route to the couch and another night with Netflix.

It’s also true, with respect to a lot of comments about demands being made, in particular, of working mothers right now, that it’s okay to be a mess. Looking back at the pre-pandemic world, it seems, from this distance, that we held ourselves to impossible standards. What the hell were we doing loading our schedules like this, running around doing things, insisting that people wash up before leaving the house?

What remains curious to me are the uses that we can put to the pandemic to explain behaviors that already existed. The question of alibis has always interested me: to what extent is it permissible or useful to continue attributing motivations to a single chain of external events. This applies most commonly to the way we assimilate the events of our childhood, the references of which can last into middle age and beyond. Of course, we are who we are based largely on the things that have happened to us, but it is also true that most of us are cunning and, in the face of evidence of our own bad behavior, we will find a way to whitewash it as a consequence. of suffering.

I’ve certainly become tougher and less tolerant in the last 12 months, something that I honestly attributed to stress. “I don’t have the bandwidth,” I’ll say, as a precursor to cutting someone who, prior to the pandemic, I reluctantly engaged and now have the perfect excuse to undo. It is a dynamic that is seen everywhere in one form or another; Those who, before last March, were inclined to communicate excessively, have been left speechless with texts and volumes of calls that, before the pandemic, could have made them stop. Those inclined to withdraw have reveled in the pretext of their life to withdraw, reject, and close. If the pandemic has allowed and excused our most antisocial impulses, it has also obscured the extent to which they were always there.

It is a free pass that, in the next 12 months, will presumably come to an end. We will have to get in shape. It will no longer be allowed to do all the things that we were doing, on the sly, anyway, but before the pandemic we were inclined to feel bad. I guess this is good; If the feeling of getting back to normal makes me embarrassed to tidy up, shower more often, and put in a little more effort to get my kids off their iPads, it’s probably all for the better. But I don’t need to fool myself: not that these behaviors were new, or that, when it suits me, I will not look back and use the pandemic guiltily to excuse any echoes of them for years to come.

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