If the saying goes that old habits die hard, then it must be said that new habits wither away pathetically.
Lately, friends and my mum have been asking me similar questions. Am I still washing my produce with detergent? No, but I continue to wash with water and white vinegar as I have for years. Am I sanitising my hands every time I get in the car? No, although I was convinced I would be, in fact I haven't even replaced the wipes in the car, yet I continue to wipe down my trolley as we have for years.
Am I wiping Weetbix boxes and bags of bread from the supermarket? No, thank goodness. In fact, that was one of my first new habits to fall by the wayside. I laughed out loud one day when I realised I was using a wipe to sanitise a new packet of wipes.
Wearing gloves to do the groceries had quickly became a new habit but I knew I needed to break it as I didn't think it was tenable long term. I recall the gentle tightening in my chest as I stood at the supermarket checkout for the first time not wearing gloves. I needed to get out to the car as quickly as possible and sanitise my hands.
If not overwhelming it was definitely on the verge of "whelming". Oh no I thought, does this mean I will be one of those LA people who say that something gives me anxiety when in actual fact it doesn't? Given friends have been diagnosed with anxiety and I've seen how it affects them, those statements are annoyingly excessive but completely in line with the hyperbole of current speech.
Just as quickly as we all embraced sanitising, wiping and washing, New Zealand seems to have for the most part, stopped. I'm not surprised. For all intents and purposes the country is Covid-free and for many New Zealanders with secure jobs, having long lunches with friends, evenings crushed together in pubs and kids able to attend school, life doesn't seem much different.
That's not to say some people should not work a little harder on their hygiene habits. We all know people that need to smarten their act regardless of Covid.
Over a shoddy FaceTime connection, a friend told me she would give up Wi-Fi if Covid went away for good. She'd also give up dining out, movie theatres, and she has pretty much given up doing her hair. I gasped and said giving up Wi-Fi was excessive. What about my social media habit?
But then again, I am on a 2G roaming plan so that's unrealistic for me. I'd forego chocolate, alcohol and maybe facials if I knew it would kick Covid. Alcohol would be easy, chocolate in every form not so and facials, well they show how desperate I am for life to return to whatever normal will be.
Friends are fatigued, desperate and furious that people are more concerned with being told what to do rather than adopt some small new habits and act in the public good. They are incensed that their kids are not going to school for the rest of 2020.
Slack parents are letting their teenagers go to parties and Starbucks when they should be at home awaiting Covid test results and we've all seen Karens erupting when it's suggested they wear a mask.
In years to come studying adopted societal habits in a post-Covid era might be an interesting paper to take at university. I can only hope they will be teaching it to a lecture theatre full of students.