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Alex Villa
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The New Social Rules of a post-pandemic society

May 27, 2020

Admiral Brucke in Kreuzberg

The return to normalcy in Berlin is a fascinating social phenomenon to witness: it indeed includes a big bet on building networks of people we trust in, the places and activities that are essential to us and a very democratic discussion about where public health concerns and and personal freedoms start.

This social engineering of trusted networks is a concept I first came across in ^insert The Knowledge Project podcast^, 3 months ago Dr. Insert name, was talking about how in our then, future, would look a little bit dystopic to our past selves, while including elements of micro-politics like the birth of new social codes: groups of friends and people who we decide to trust in order to get together again. The human need for connection and constant communication is something that cannot be contained. It's sand between our fingers. We yearn for each other.

There's also a big political paradox in the air: the trust in the German government is higher than ever, but people are still making very autonomous decisions around the personal sense of danger, the people we decide to trust, the places we decide to go to and the things we decide to complain about (yes, even in demonstrations, a wise friend of mine let me see recently how vital it is for a true free country to have voices who fight for freedom, even if said freedom looks like a won battle. You gotta fight for it.

It's funny how every single nationality in the world defines "freedom" in a completely different light.

The concept of freedom is anything but universal.

My personal Mexican concept of freedom was very tainted by a fear of authority and moral judgement. "People should be grateful for...". "But how can they...?". No, I don't need to agree with you in order for you to have something valid to say out loud.

People walking down the street with a beer on their hand and tired eyes at 5am is the most Berlin, return to a semi social life thing I've seen from our balcony. And I've see plenty.

We're all measuring the field and understanding our new social codes. There's no tension in the streets, only the usual, freedom of self expression and thought that these streets are filled with, sanitary emergency or not. Personal dignity. True self-reliance. It's not easy for everybody, but losing your job in Germany doesn't mean that you won't have food on your table. Ever. Such an unknown concept for me. And I'm not sure if all of them realize the beautiful, human-first society they are a part of.

It's far from perfect, there's always a balanced shade of black for all the light, and if there's something that Berlin loves is black. But a lot of that darkness is balanced by the despair and pain of a burdensome past to overcome, there's history to learn from, and at least for now, the lesson is present, which leans this society towards a very human centric social engineering.

If the beginning of the pandemic signaled our similarities: a human organism that's susceptible to nature, a highly connected nature and a generally shared connection of underprepared politicians at charge, this plateu we're reaching now is gonna introduce us with our differences:

  • Are our societies economy-first or human-first?
  • What are the untreadable values that we found in ourselves?
  • Do we rule fear or do we let fear rule us?
  • What does the society we live in truly value?
  • Did we actually need all that toilet paper?

6am now. Still looking for those answers.

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