How to navigate society’s post-pandemic behavioral changes | Livingston

Are any of you feeling a sense of loss in your daily lives and routines resulting from pandemic fatigue?

Are we transitioning to a new normal and leaving behind our pandemic lifestyle and rules and reconnecting with one another?

There seems to be a reticence to fully engage, dialogue with friends, reach out to neighbors or meet someone new.

The pandemic made us all introverts and really frustrated most of the extroverts. We all became virtual reality consumers. Working from home became normalized. Education became a new frontier of homeschooling through Zoom.

We learned how much we craved our former routines, physical access to one another, but at the same time realized bad behavior on Zoom could not be easily monitored. The audio as well as video could be turned off as we listened, allowing us to make snide remarks to no one or send personal chat or text messages sharing a joke with one of the participants without overtly disrupting the meeting for a personal laugh.

Isolation affected all of us in our own ways. Some of us were better than others at tolerating the isolation. When I am out and about in the community reemerging from our pandemic induced stupor and fear of catching Covid, I sense an anger, anxiety or an edge to many people that was not there before. We have changed. While these observations are not scientific, I see it in the news with more incidents of crime, road rage, domestic and gun violence, and in general, less tolerance, patience and respect.

Federal Way is a microcosm of that post-Covid transition behavior, which is being felt across America. We see it on our streets. Homelessness and open drug use increased. Traffic is increasing and drivers are less kind. Customer service seems to be a thing of the past. We all seem to be mad about something as we work on reconnecting.

Angry that groceries, gas, airline tickets, restaurant meals, cost of goods, rent are costing more and your wages are stagnant? Angry that we are experiencing inflation but also hear that some companies like Exxon are making record profits?

Is the fuel shortage real or an opportunity to take advantage of consumers because there is a war in Ukraine and Russia is using its oil resources as a weapon against the world?

Angry that what you see on the news is all doom, gloom, crime, your 401K is tanking or that Russell Wilson is now playing for Denver? Are you angry because your world at the moment feels out of control?

Are you angry because our mayor, that you either like or dislike, is running for a higher-level office and that if he succeeds, the person who follows may be less or more capable than what we have? Are you angry at local politics in general because if you have lived here a long time you have seen the caliber of our city slowly diminish?

Does it make you mad that no one is listening to your solutions? Even if they listened, are you sure what you propose would make things better and not worse? Have things gotten so complicated that your head hurts?

Are you one of the people who started flying an American flag that is black and white with a blue stripe as a sign of solidarity with our police. Is it your way of expressing your discontent with our society?

The black and white American flag was a symbol Confederate soldiers used during the American Civil War to demonstrate they would not surrender. Add the blue stripe and it becomes an updated symbol that appears positive to many, because you want us to believe you support the police, but in reality it is intended to be a divisive counterpoint to those who represent police accountability, diversity and specifically Black Lives Matter.

Are you proud that your years of religious zealotry have given you a Supreme Court that shares your misguided values and overturned Roe v. Wade? Do you really want them to turn back time to create a new American dark age?

The complacent tide that allowed the creepy values of the past to become front and center political issues have yet to wake up, but they will. Then what? Will we continue being stuck with a forever culture war trying to impose backward nationalistic Christian patriarchal values while the democratic world slowly moves forward?

During the pandemic people still moved, but it may have been a year or so before they met the neighbors. Neighbors are waking up from a forced malaise to find they have nothing in common with the person who moved next door. They may pray to a different god, come from a different culture, country, or even worse — not maintain their property to your desired standard.

A couple of weeks with temperatures in the high 80s and 90s and no air-conditioning gave us a headache that made us feel edgy, tired and mad. Just keep telling yourself that climate change is not real as wildfires continue to burn the west, while floods and storms wreak havoc on families and cities in the eastern part of our country. Fossil fuel extractors have known for years that their products were impacting our climate and put profits first over the planet’s well-being.

The societal filters and elements that were keeping a lid on our bad behaviors and conspiratorial thinking dissolved at an increasing rate during the pandemic fueled by conflicting information and politics. What needs to be restored to make us feel better about ourselves and society in general? For starters, respect and realization that facts matter.

We live in a society that has as part of its workplace culture the phrase, asked rhetorically — “what have you done for us lately?” It keeps us guessing and working harder for the good of their cause while letting us know that we are expendable.

They told us to work from home, we got used to that, and now they want us to return to a hostile workspace where they give us low wages, no respect, and make us feel insecure. Now, you hate your job even more but feel trapped into staying for health care insurance.

I get it — we are mad about a lot of everything. Maybe we need to take a deep breath, consider counseling as a society, and begin talking to each other about our problems with kindness.

Keith Livingston is a retired municipal management professional, lifelong artist and Federal Way resident. He can be reached at