Generation Coronavirus

Jana Gajdová
Do you still remember the summer a year ago? Hot, sunny days? Lazy clouds in the blue sky interlaced with white airplane vapour trails? Streets bustling with artists, musicians, and exotic-looking tourists taking thousands of pictures, and pushing and shoving each other to get the best views of the magnificent sights? Beaches were full of tanned bodies; parents shouted at children who were frolicking around and sharing melting ice cream. Yep, that was the summer where people tried to live to the utmost. The things that we took for granted then, such as enjoying free time with friends, have become distant memories carefully cherished. The times we knew are gone, and there is a feeling of uncertainty ahead.
The coronavirus epidemic has brought many changes to our everyday lives. The constant presence of fear about your health and the health of our loved ones, and of catching the extremely contagious virus has become a nightmare to many of us. The autumn outbreak seems uncontrollable, and many people, even those who were distrustful in the spring, have become respectful and submissive. The positive cases are skyrocketing, and many of us have been affected, directly or indirectly. Fear of contracting the virus has stopped people from going to hospitals for a regular check-up or getting a proper examination. Many people postpone visiting a doctor, thus risking late detection of serious diseases. Many healthcare professionals are stressed, overworked and exhausted by the overload of strenuous work in demanding conditions.

Social contacts are basically on the ice these days. Meetings, dates and parties are prohibited, and we have to rely on phones and PCs to stay in touch. For our entertainment, we depend on TV and again the overburdened PCs and phones. This may do for a while, but in the long run, it gets boring and frustrating. Social distancing negatively affects our mood and overall well-being. Having a friend’s shoulder to cry on works as well as seeing a good psychologist. Being deprived of it means feeling excluded and alone.
Also, many of us have to deal with the sudden and demanding care of children, whose schools are closed. Mothers have had to become full-time teachers, cooks and maids, and in many cases, they must simultaneously keep a business running by working from home. Many of us have close relatives who are not able to get their groceries on their own, or friends who are left alone in quarantine and need a good soul to provide them with food, clean laundry and medicine.

Education has suffered tremendously. Many of us could not have imagined saying that we would miss school and studying. Yet we do. We want our educators back; we want to study, explore new things, be guided through our days, and we definitely want to sit next to our classmates at school.
Our hobbies, sports and religious services have been cancelled too. Most of our interests have to be pursued inside. Some of these interests are new ones picked up by bored individuals. Many of us have had to stop meeting mates, training in teams, going to gyms and clubs and doing extracurricular activities. There is no more physical exercise in groups; there no more competitions, matches or races. A lot of us have lost our sport buddies; we must focus on the individual exercise at home, using videos. Competitiveness and healthy ambition have disappeared, and even professional sportsmen and sportswomen have had to go into hibernation mode.

Travelling experienced a boom in recent years. People and families travelled as never before. Global borders were virtually erased. A good economic situation in the Czech Republic allowed many families to travel abroad at least once a year. Exotic vacations were more and more common, and people stopped being afraid of travelling to underdeveloped countries, even if this meant special vaccinations and the possibility of being catching an infectious disease.

The economy has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus. Many business owners have struggled to survive for lack of trade as people have stayed at home and spent less money. Restaurants, bookshops, jeweller’s, shoe shops, stationer’s, furniture stores and so on have been deprived of cash flow, and the owners do not have funds to pay rent, loans and employee salaries. Factories and farmers worry about the loss of unsold goods. Being self-employed has become a huge disadvantage, with years of effort and hard work under threat.

Suddenly, no one has time to think about the environment. The care of our planet has been postponed, and the use and waste of plastics is on the rise. Single-use products, such as face masks, medical suits and medical equipment, are thrown away on a daily basis by the million, with more produced to replace them. What will happen to all this plastic medical waste? Are we waiting until the pandemic is over to deal with it?
These are hard times indeed. So, can life ever be again as we knew it before? Most likely not. The scar that the coronavirus has left on our hearts cannot be easily healed. It is the menace of our generation, a burden we will have to carry for the rest of our lives. So, is there anything good about the pandemic?

Even though it is very hard to find some positives in the current situation, there have been a few pluses. Perhaps some of you have noticed how our lives have slowed down, how we have started to work less and to focus on things that really matter, such as a family, and how we spend much more free time outdoors. We have looked into our souls and realized that the life we were given is something precious that should not be taken for granted. We have started to focus on things that we have rather than things we do not have. Nowadays, we have greater appreciation and admiration for all doctors, nurses and teachers, occupations that were often ridiculed and undervalued in the past. Our values have shifted, and for the most part we have become humbler and more respectful towards one another.

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