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  • Sophia P

The time in between

The world today looks vastly different than it did a few months ago at the end of 2019. A large portion of the world is under some type of lockdown and social distancing policy to try and slow the spread of Covid-19, which has been declared a pandemic. The daily commute, events, gatherings and other routines that give structure to our daily lives have been canceled, postponed or radically altered. I've talked to several friends who've said that it's hard to keep track of the days or that they feel like time is passing more slowly. Memes have popped up expressing dismay that we're only a few months into 2020, yet it feels like we've already lived a year in the past few weeks. The most common words used to describe the virus, the pandemic and what people are experiencing are words associated with something entirely new, such as "novel", "unprecedented", "uncharted".

I wonder if the heightened sense of uncertainty in every area of life seems to have activated a part of our brain that is reserved for emergencies or if it is because we're encountering an entirely new situation. Researchers have previously studied "Why Time Seems to Slow Down in Emergencies" by dropping volunteers from 150-feet with no ropes into a safety net to see if people in danger could actually perceive more quickly over the average three seconds it took to drop. It turns out we didn't actually perceive more, instead researchers observed that there was more activity in the amygdala (a part of our brain that helps us perceive and process emotions) and we created "richer and denser memories".

Each week it feels like so much happens in terms of new knowledge gained about the virus, its impacts and the toll it's taking, but on the other hand there is a certain monotony to the routine of staying home under quarantine. Only time will tell how we'll remember this period in our lives, and if we will create rich dense memories that make it seem like the world has slowed down. One thing I do know is that similar to the events of 9/11 in 2001, this will become a way in which we mark time -- life before and after the pandemic. But unlike 9/11, this is not a discrete event, and right now we have to figure out how to live in the time in between.

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