Did you actually say “going viral”?

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In a world of vexing uncertainty, this much we know: Covid-19 will go away—eventually.  Wars end, bear markets emerge from hibernation and pandemics run their course. At some point, life will return to normal.

But not all will be as it was. Even as we return to our offices, get back on the subway and venture out to restaurants and baby showers again, there are some things that may never be quite the same:

  • Eye contact. Even the chronically shy can force themselves to look people in the eye when speaking to them. But Zoom, Skype and Facebook make eye contact impossible, no matter how hard we try. Except we’ve stopped trying. Worse, we’ve stopped noticing.

  • Corona beer. It will still be around and we’ll still happily drink it—but never without being self-conscious or without a weird sense of post-modern irony. Unlike Freud’s cigar, a Corona will never be just a Corona.

  • “Going viral.” It’s always been a useful—if overworked—expression. What better way is there to describe the rapid spread of Uncle Phil’s dreadful (but hilarious) fishhook accident video on YouTube? But in the post-pandemic world, when someone describes something as “going viral,” the only possible response will be, “Really?”

  • Contagious personality. Obviously no longer a positive attribute—and never will be again. Same for “infectious laugh.” If you have an infectious laugh, you’ll be expected to keep it to yourself. Maybe even self-isolate.

  • TGIF. Remember when weekends began on Friday evening and lasted through Homeland on Sunday night? In between, you’d do the laundry, see a movie, hang with friends, play Monopoly with your kids. But the weekday-weekend border may never again be so clearly demarcated now that we’ve gotten in the habit of living, working, playing and sleeping in the same place.

 Thank God it’s—what day is it anyway?