Positives in a pandemic? Let’s talk about them

Sydney McDonald | Managing Editor

Opinion 

After being socially distant for roughly a month now, things are difficult. There really is no way to sugarcoat it. Even myself, a homebody who quite enjoyed the first couple of weeks of working out at home, taking time to perfect some skills and hobbies, and spending valuable time with my roommates who I will be leaving after graduation, I am exhausted of this. One thing, in particular, that seems to be dragging people down is the constant stream of negative media surrounding COVID-19. This pandemic is going to make a lasting impact on our society and lives as we know it, whether we like it or not. As plans are changing, important moments being postponed you can assume that this situation is mostly negative, and it is. However, there are lights of positivity that are being overshadowed.  

Among the constant stream of rising case numbers and death rates, many people have just begun avoiding media as much as possible. As a journalist and media-enthusiast, even I am extremely tired of the same repetitive numbers and statistics every day. So, let’s go over some of the positives that are hiding behind all these scary numbers.

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the reawakening for an appreciation of the outdoors. In the last decade, there have been countless studies showing that people are staying inside more and more, however, when all there is to do is be indoors our minds have changed. Parks, trails, and backyards are being used now more than they have in years. We are finding ways to be out while being socially distant, which is exactly what we need. During this pandemic, we have ultimately lost our “third places,” which parks have now replaced. Alexandra Lange, an expert from an article by Politico, thinks that after this pandemic our society will “value these big spaces even more,” using them to be “visually together.” 

“What we have right now is parks. After this is all over, I would love to see more public investment in open, accessible, all-weather places to gather, even after we no longer need to stay six feet apart,” Lange said in the article. 

Secondly, we might be unintentionally helping the environment. With less air travel, people staying home and fewer vehicles on the road carbon emissions are rapidly dropping. According to BBC, “Compared with this time last year, levels of pollution in New York have reduced by nearly 50% because of measures to contain the virus.” 

Though this hasn’t been intentional, this could be a lasting change depending on our actions after the pandemic halts. These numbers could quickly reverse back to what they were before COVID-19, however, if we take this opportunity to see changes in our day-to-day lives when life returns to normal, we could see some of the positive impacts of fewer emissions. This is not an effect that can be assured at the moment, but it is one that you should keep in mind as life begins to move forward again.  

Last but not least, we as, not only society but a world, are becoming less individualistic. America is known to be a highly individualistic society, but even in a time of social distancing, we are seeing more communal behavior. According to the Politico article mentioned previously, “We will be better able to see how our fates are linked.” This could mean less polarization between groups of people and the coming together for the betterment of our country and world. During this pandemic, we have become more aware of how our actions and the actions of those around us are affecting the people we come into contact with every day, therefore allowing us to become more empathetic and understanding. 

Eric Klinenberg put it well, “The coronavirus pandemic is going to cause immense pain and suffering. But it will force us to reconsider who we are and what we value, and, in the long run, it could help us rediscover the better version of ourselves.” 

Although all these positives are linked to a very… not positive circumstance, we should still keep looking for them. This is a small list of good things that could come from this pandemic. While we are #AloneTogether we need to help each other out. Find ways to make the best of a bad situation and contribute to your well-being as well as those around you. Stay safe, stay informed, and stay positive.