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Q&A: Is it time for the Post-COVID “refresh”?

A new book examines how, amidst radical uncertainty and the prospect of massive social change, such people learn to become resilient.

© Digital Journal
© Digital Journal

A new book, titled Through a Screen Darkly: Psychoanalytic Reflections During the Pandemic, written by the notable NYC psychiatrist Ahron Friedberg , discusses people’s resilience in the face of COVID-19. 

According to the book, “resilience” is not just the capacity to bounce back to where we were.  It is also about the will to change and move on, so that we adapt to what is right for us right now.  This kind of resilience requires self-awareness – apparently, one good side-effect of the pandemic.

Digital Journal caught up with Ahron Friedberg, M.D., to consider this phenomenon which and what Dr. Friedberg calls the ‘Post-COVID Refresh’.

Digital Journal:  What is the Post-COVID-19 “Refresh” exactly?

Ahron Friedberg: When we hit “Refresh” at the top of a screen, we get a new version of whatever we’ve been staring at, in sync with what’s happened since we last signed on.  But now, as we cope with the effects of COVID-19, “refresh” is migrating from virtual to real life. We know that things have changed, and we want to recalibrate.  We want to be in sync with a new, personal reality.

DJ: Why is this occurring at this point in the pandemic?

Friedberg: For most of us, life now seems more fragile, more uncertain. What’s extraordinary, however, is that suddenly we realize that it always has been. We just didn’t do much about it . . . until COVID awakened us. Now we feel licensed– energized – to try and improve our lives within its inevitable limitations.  If, prior to COVID, we rarely thought about changing course, then now – in light of all that’s happened or still might – inertia is no longer an option. We’ve hit “refresh.” We’re reconsidering work and relationships.  We’re reassessing, as if just having survived demonstrates that we’re in a new place.

The disruptions caused by COVID may have accommodated us to disruption.  So instead of hunkering down now, and circling our wagons, we’re busting out.  You hear words like “agency,” “choice,” and “prerogative,” as if the status quo has become untenable. In some cases, unendurable.  People want to take control of where they are and where they may be going.

DJ:  What are some examples?

Friedberg:  People are no longer putting up with burnout, and are leaving for jobs with a better work/life balance.

Demands for improved working conditions have skyrocketed, and unionization has picked up after years of stagnation. The trend towards endless hook-ups has flattened, as relationships emerge as important anchors of individual well-being.

Climate change has entered everyday political discourse, as we realize that Earth is precious – the only planet that we’ll ever have. Book sales have risen, as people nurture their inner lives

Essentially, we are reconsidering what matters in life – love, family, the environment – as opposed to limitless consumerism.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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