In this Collateral Global Conversation, I talk to Professor David Livermore about the consequences of lockdowns and social distancing restrictions for the fabric of social life. As we move on from the pandemic itself, to what extent have the behaviours and mores of pre-Covid times changed? On one hand, dystopian fears about the end of handshakes, hugs, and parties have not materialised. On the other, something subtle has changed in the culture of work and education, and we’re no longer sure what we can take for granted.
We also discuss the relationship between politicians, the media, and the public during the pandemic, in the demand for more and more rules restricting social behaviour. Was the government responding to an irrational crowd mentality, or was the fearful demand for rules generated by the exclusion of the public from a calm, balanced discussion about what could and should be done? What did the injunction to ‘be kind’ by obeying all the restrictions do to our deeper understanding of what kindness means, and why it matters? Where do we go from here, in reckoning with the Covid years without allowing them to define us?