Back in December 2016, a Tumblr user put up a post proposing to bring capes back into fashion in the New Year. The post gained plenty of traction, amassing upwards of 75000 notes. Unfortunately(or not), it didn’t translate to a real-life revival of this medieval garment now largely associated with superheroes. Fast-forward to the end of 2019, and people the world over were buzzing – a new decade was approaching! And the internet saw mentions of capes again – a new decade, after all, demands more than a few clichéd resolutions – and radical fashion choices are one way of fitting the bill. Of course, we didn’t see capes this year either, but it’s safe to say that the mood was generally upbeat heading into 2020.
Three months in, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this is probably the most interesting start to the year in recent times. It’s almost as if someone flipped a switch on New Year’s Day – a switch that has subsequently made life go haywire. The tension between the US and Iran almost tipped over into all-out war. Fifty thousand kilometres of Australian bush burned down to ash. The COVID-19 pandemic has been brewing in the background, and has now reached a crescendo with most of the world under lockdown, with no end in sight.
With the restriction of our freedom, several unwritten rules have been broken too. Sanitiser and toilet paper are precious commodities. Major industries have completely shut down, and all this reduction in activity has greatly reduced pollution. Memes abound on social media, with several of the deeper ones expounding that humankind has been the virus all along, much to the agreement of doomsayers who believe that this is the year their predictions finally come true. People are fighting the boredom by being even more active online than before – more people than ever before are playing video games when they aren’t tagging each other on their stories.
The pandemic is undoubtedly going to leave a huge mark on human history if it hasn’t already. Human culture is being reshaped too. We might never take a walk on the street for granted again. Or stocked store shelves. Or a high-five. This will be by far the most time we’ve ever spent cooped up indoors at a stretch. And when we spend so much time with only our family and our gadgets and our thoughts for company, we discover ourselves, so to speak. The masks we wear when society has its eyes on us fall away to reveal something raw and real. While our time in quarantine may not be “productive” in an objective sense, we have little to no responsibility outside our homes. Try something new. Reconnect with old friends. Pick up that habit you lost after you joined college.
It’s three weeks into lockdown and we’re still struggling to adjust to this massive change. When all this is over, we are sure to see things a little differently. Everything will seem more bearable than before. That 8:30 class we never wanted to wake up for. The dull mess food. The whole dreary routine. Even the cows that chased us on our way to class. Hopefully, on the other side of this mess, attitudes are changed and prejudices broken. The coronavirus is definitely a great leveller, making no distinctions in whom it infects. Maybe the boundaries of what is socially acceptable and what isn’t can be pushed for the better.
Maybe we should put on our capes.