Editorial: Pandemic playbook: Social distancing amid coronavirus leads to new coping behaviors

Tribune Content Agency

After several weeks of coronavirus-inspired social distancing, we all have had to adapt our behaviors and learn to cope in different ways amid this “new normal,” even if the disease hasn’t yet directly hit home for us. Here’s a look at some of the societal shifts and trends — from the silly to the sorrowful — we’re seeing thus far:

Coronavirus choreography: That avoidance dance we do to stay at least 6 feet apart while taking a walk and another person comes along from the opposite direction.

Coronavirus Chromebook: The low-cost laptop parents with the means are scrambling to buy their kids for online learning as schools go virtual.

Coronavirus classrooms: Anywhere a creative guardian can find: the kitchen (culinary arts), laundromat (home economics), yard (landscape design), dining table (worksheet work zone/laptop library), etc.

Coronavirus close crop: The long-lasting buzz cut and brush cut parents are now giving boys when their hair needs a trim and the barbershops are closed.

Coronavirus colleagues: Everyone else in our homes while we’re trying to telework, including: children, spouses, significant others, roommates, pets.

COVID-19 (the other one): The pounds we’re all likely to put on from stress snacking (worse than the freshman 15).

COVID conference call: The group work meeting we now conduct in our nightclothes or while walking the dog.

COVID confusion: The feeling we get when seasonal allergies kick in, but we’re worried it’s really the virus, finally coming for us.

COVID craving: The overwhelming desire for anything and everything we can’t get during this pandemic — from a meal at our favorite restaurant to our preferred brand of toilet paper.

Pandemic pajamas: The comfiest loungewear we’ve got, worn two to five days per week. Washing optional.

Pandemic panic: The fear we feel when we realize we’re out of something we consider essential and might have to venture out to replace it.

Pandemic party: Playing a game or sharing a drink with friends or extended family using a video calling or conferencing app.

Pandemic pet: The animals we’re fostering (and falling for) because the shelters have had to shut down.

Pandemic pity party: The significant sorrow still healthy people feel over our lost opportunities and canceled experiences — proms, trips, job changes, anniversary dinners, weddings and so on — even as we’re grateful for our lives.

Pandemic play date: Our youngest children talking too loudly to other kids on FaceTime/Zoom/Facebook Messenger, etc.; possibly singing/dancing/screeching.

Pandemic ponytail: Women are turning to this universal style after too much time away from the hairdresser.

Pandemic postcards: An attempt to keep kids connected with one another and writing while they’re out of school.

Pandemic puzzle: The partially done jigsaw we’ve had for years (there’s a shortage of new ones) spread out wherever we can find the space, along with the guilt of still not finishing it.

Social distancing date night: Dressing for dinner and eating in the dining room with our significant others. “Dressing” could mean a suit and tie, or anything other than sweatpants.

Social distancing depression: The malaise none of us can quite shake as we face an uncertain future.

Social distancing diet: Breakfast; morning snack; lunch; early afternoon snack; late afternoon snack; dinner; dessert; late-night snack.

Social distancing dye job: The inexplicable pull many are feeling to dye their own hair, or their family member’s, bright colors for something to do.

Social distancing salutation: The urge we have to greet every person we pass while walking to acknowledge that, though apart, we’re all in this together.

Virus vacation: When we still take off from work the dates of a planned, and since canceled, vacation and use the time to organize our homes and do other chores.

Virus video conference: The meeting we now conduct in a work shirt (in view of the camera) and yoga/sweat pants (not), while trying to avoid looking at our own image. Possible proof of the former: Walmart says people are buying more shirts now, but not pants.


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