One of the many repetitive chimes of happy-go characters on social media is the talk about the gift of time granted to us in isolation by the COVID19 pandemic. I’m not sure if I should feel any gratitude towards a deadly virus, but I must agree having more time has wondrous effects on humans. Time offers the mind a space for observation and perception, and I have ample time in this isolation.
On this particular long night, unremarkable than any other, I was wondering about human priorities. Maslow created a pyramid based on those which is studied universally worldwide, while we are starting to see some evidence to his theory, I wonder if there were things he missed about human nature, or have we changed since 1943.
Some say this pandemic has changed our priorities and the way we view the world. Perhaps. Sudden traumas have proven to change human psychology drastically. However, there is another likely explanation; that it has revealed our truth. A truth that is oddly like a Picasso painting; valuable and incomprehensible. When we look beyond the human loss and health catastrophe this virus brings, and the masses on the sidelines and in isolation or lockdown, humanity seems to have shifted to types.
For people who confine themselves to Maslow’s pyramid theory. Safety is a motive. There is a disease outside, so we stay inside. Those are the ones who might actually be changing as they perceive what’s important now vs before. Money spent on shopping sprees doesn’t seem to resonate well now, while the time consumed on gaming, not making time for family and friends might seem lost. Whether this pandemic shall resonate till after the lockdown for a shift in attitudes is yet to be seen, as time passes, it is noticeable that their patience is waning. More and more people are now willing to risk going outside, if this keeps up there shall be no lockdown laws strong enough to keep those in place. However, it does beg to wonder, how stable is Maslow’s pyramid theory?! Will this pandemic prove that people are willing to risk their safety for the luxury of going to the mall?!
Then there are those who have defied Maslow’s pyramid from the start and have given new meaning to the word “priorities”. One look at the que that ensued the day Starbucks decided to reopen in one neighborhood with a drive-through only service begs one to wonder, what pyramid of need does this fit into?! The spew of influencers gathering outside to get that perfect video for social media?! Those gathering at other people’s homes to socialize, in a time when you could easily do so through the internet?! All this begs the question, have some humans’ priorities changed in the new millennium?
there is the exposure of how in the peak of communication technology we have
lost the fundamentals of communication. Divorce and domestic violence rates are
both rising worldwide. There’s the overused joke on social media about how one
“spent time with a partner and they turned out to be lovely”! How many hours a
day were people spending outside their homes?! Is the pandemic really the cause
of isolation? Or the eye-opener to the reality that we ourselves had been
isolated all along from those who should have been closest to us.
Then there are those at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid. Safety is not a motive when money comes into play. The pandemic has successfully revealed the injustice of a global system that leaves millions dependent on day to day pay with no safety net or insurance. Governments are now struggling to support those who have long been forgotten in the equation of life balance. They’re the surprise variable many governments are dealing with now. Safety is not a priority to them; they shall continue to leave their homes to feed themselves and their families. The lost priorities of a global system is coming back to bite us all.
Between the shifting meaning of needs and priorities one might wonder, how will we move forward? Will this change us? I could offer an intriguing ending to this and say “we will have to wait and see”. Some might present the evidence of the subtle yet fundamental changes that happened after the 9-11 attack in the USA, which changed travel norms as we knew it back then. Yes, I do recall simpler times when a hairdryer in your luggage was just a hairdryer and you could take perfume on a plane. However, with a quick glance at history, take the 1918 pandemic with all its waves and surges, could offer the simple answer of “humans don’t really change but disasters bring out the worst and the best in us”. Then again, we didn’t have TikTok or Starbucks addicts back then so everything is up for speculation!