As the world celebrated the start of a new year — and a new decade — a little over 15 months ago, many hoped for a new ‘Roaring 20s’; a repeat of the extravagant, hedonistic, Gatsby-esque, party-filled days of the 1920s. Few of course hoped for —or expected — a repeat of a deadly, global pandemic; the sort that directly preceded and informed the roaring days of the 1920s.
Nevertheless, here we are, and after a gruelling year spent in and out of lockdowns and isolation, the end of the pandemic is finally in sight; with millions getting vaccinated on a daily basis. Now as the world of mass gatherings, parties and, concerts seems tantalizingly close to reality — after a year in which it seemed we may never get such a thing back — can we finally expect a repeat of the roaring 20’s: the *good* part of the roaring 20s that is?
There’s certainly plenty of evidence to suggest that the answer is yes; as soon as the UK announced it’s provisional roadmap out of lockdown, holidays abroad were booked in the thousands and, take a quick look at Australia and you’ll already see scenes of packed concerts and dance floors.
It’s naïve and misguided however to expect that we can simply party away our year of COVID blues. 2020 was a seismic year; one where injustices were brought to the forefront, one where millions lost their jobs and one where, at times, millions more felt on the brink of losing their sanity. Just this month, a study found that a third of COVID survivors were diagnosed with a severe mental health condition in the aftermath of their illness. This is on top of the millions facing prolonged physical symptoms from the virus (i.e. ‘Long COVID’). Millions more people who have been lucky enough not to catch the virus have experienced mental deterioration over the last year, as they’ve been confined to their homes and separated from friends and loved ones.
The point is that while many may have a roaring time post-COVID, many — perhaps even the majority of people — will struggle as we transition from our strange current reality, to whatever our post-COVID reality will entail. The impact of 2020 — culturally, politically and psychologically — is unrivalled by anything in modern history. While it’s undeniably tempting to want to sweep the last year under the rug, the fallout from the COVID-era — all the good, bad and ugly — demands to be confronted head on if we want to repair the damage down to our society in the last year. Anything less would be a disservice to the millions who have died, and the millions more who suffered mentally and economically, since March of last year.