Each culture has a pattern of behaviors that will likely need to be adjusted with the introduction of the new stimulus of a virus with no current vaccine or known cure. Will your response be old reliable or newly flexible? Culture can’t redefine the new norms just quite yet, so individuals with differing approaches will eventually have to set what will become the new cultural patterns.
Some individuals will stick to their very reliable routine of handshakes, hugs and five-second hand washing. It’s always been this way and I have been fine this whole time, irrespective of new information.
Other individuals will demonstrate flexibility in their decisions, moving past the old norms to make adjustments based on the new information to avoid a potential risk.
When a reliable and a flexible individual meet up again in close settings, it will at first be awkward. A showdown of sorts will occur when reliable remains absolutely reliable, reaching out for a handshake as they have always done. Flexible will be flexible and wish to make do with voiding the handshake in favor of another more distant, but socially accepted response.
A new culture or new normal will come to be defined over time across a variety of settings from meetings and interviews to family gatherings.
We live our everyday lives in a balance of either being reliable or flexible. We generally choose to be either reliable or flexible by selecting the option we feel best with and over time we reliably stick to that choice. But simply being reliable here has a broader social impact under these circumstances.
So, what is right choice for you going forward and how will you manage this choice with others with only what we know (the data) thus far. Each of us will have to reason our way through this awkward period with either the reliable gestures of the past or the flexible nuances going forward.
Each of us will adjust (or not) and then figure it out together through experiences (possibly awkward at first) of applied learning until a vaccine supplies a level of certainty for all.
Start where you are comfortable and follow the data as it comes forth to learn your way through it as a member of the group, awkward or not.
“When you don’t have any data, you have to use reason.” — Richard Feynman —