Perhaps we really can chalk it all up to the pandemic.
After all, we’ve all still got those mantras in our ears. Keep your distance! Whatever you do, avoid getting too close to anyone! Meet nobody from outside your own household! And then there were the closed cafés, restaurants, and bars, the shuttered concert halls and cultural institutions. We worked from home. And so many of those traditional places where people came together had simply disappeared from one day to the next.
All at once, solitary cocooning was the epitome of being responsible. And who wasn’t willing to do so, if that was what it would take to be rid of this virus quickly? Isolation, however, also entailed being left to one’s own devices. To one’s own thoughts. Unable to escape oneself. Which isn’t always a happy plight. Even if all the business coaches and career advice folks had spent the decade just prior speaking of little else. Of “Me” as a business model. Of the age of “Me Inc.”, of “Me” as a brand that had to be marketed, of the “Me-ification” of the world. In journalism, in art … “Me” was everywhere. Even in politics. Collective movements like parties had lost their allure; far more interesting were personalities with popstar appeal. “Me and the Others” was the motto—and people bought it. Concerned observers labelled it populism, a style of politics that divides society. Their warnings died away unheeded. And even so, this entire egocentric trend does indeed now seem to be over. People have an urge to get together with each other again. They’re going out together, enjoying the presence of their colleagues at work, standing together talking outside even as temperatures get less friendly, basking in each other’s company. And in the arts, as well, teamwork is once again the order of the day. In film, whose greatest representatives have always answered questions about the ingredients of their success with a simple: “It’s teamwork!” In theatre and in classical music, where performing as an ensemble is increasingly where it’s at. And perhaps this really is one of the pandemic’s positive takeaways—this simple realisation that, together, we’re less alone.