It’s no longer “business as usual” in Hartington, or practically any place else in the world these days, for that matter.
Life has changed and changed dramatically thanks to the coronavirus.
We are now becoming a society of shut ins — all fearful that we might someday touch a surface contaminated by this strange new virus or breathe in air that has been exhaled by a carrier.
That fear — and the desire to keep the disease from spreading across the country like a prairie fire during a heat wave — is forcing us to limit social contact and keep our distance from each other.
When the Cedar County News went to print Tuesday afternoon 16 state governors had ordered their residents to shelter at home, and only go out in an emergency or for necessities.
We’re lucky that hasn’t happened here in Nebraska, yet.
It’s bad enough that Nebraskans have to limit our social contact to groups of 10 or fewer.
It’s taking us all quite awhile to get used to this new normal, a place where Friday Night Fish Frys are forbidden and hanging out with friends is now a dangerous decision.
Life has suddenly taken on a futuristic look, as we are all turning to our computers and smart phones to not only meet the deadlines of our professional lives, but also for our school work and to communicate with each other.
Facetime, Zoom, Go To Meeting and Google Classroom have replaced hanging out around the kitchen table or talking over the office water cooler.
While it’s nice that technology is allowing us to bring a modicum of normalcy into our lives, in this time of tumult and turmoil it’s also sad.
Events like the COVID-19 pandemic are often looked back upon by historians as a societal turning point.
Will this be the point when once COVID-19 is no longer part of our everyday lives we as a society begin to realize that computers, avitars, virtual reality and internet commerce are more important to us then human interaction?
Or will it mean our society finally gains a true appreciation for our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers and we realize that life is too short to be running from event to event, and too important to be racing from assignment to assignment without stopping to first interact with the people in our lives.
I don’t think anything can replace the satisfaction that comes from a conversation with a friend, a face-to-face meeting where you can read someone’s expression and body language, or a real hug from your grandchild, not a virtual one.
I’m hoping once this virus is behind us and we can again safely come out from the shadows of our homes and unlock the doors to our stores and offices that we will better appreciate the people in our lives and work to stay in touch with them.