Now that we are a few weeks into the implementation of quarantine in Hungary and in many other countries around the world, we are starting to get a glimpse of the long-term effects that such a shut down has on society. In a previous article, I discussed how it is important for citizens to be responsible in following quarantine rules to prevent the virus from spreading too quickly. This time, I would like to focus on a different kind of responsibility, the responsibility to keep the non-coronavirus related parts of our societies together and functioning through quarantine. There are many aspects that can be discussed, from education to exercise, but what I would like to talk about in detail is culture.
What do I mean by culture? Culture, in this case, can mean anything from art, music, dance, socialization, etc. So far, there have been many uplifting examples of how Hungarians have banded together to keep such cultural activities alive during the virus. There is the #legényesezzotthon trend on Facebook, where Hungarian folk dancers are uploading clips of their best solo performances at home and challenging their friends. This trend is especially interesting, since it originated in Hungary, but is now making its way through the diaspora community in North America and the rest of the world as well. The Hungarian scout associations have also been putting a lot of effort into moving activities online, something that is especially difficult for a movement based on going outside, but it turns out that building shelters out of pillows in your living room is also a fun activity! Singers and musicians have taken to social media, uploading hit songs from their home studios, and the #nekedenekelek song being recently uploaded as a collaboration of famous Hungarian artists as a thank you to those required to work throughout the crisis.
So, it does seem that Hungarian society, both at home and abroad, is doing an admirable job of keeping its cultural life alive as a community. But why do we even care about this, is it not enough to just stay at home and watch Netflix? Not exactly, no. The longer this quarantine situation continues on, the larger the negative impact will be on our society. First of all, from a mental health perspective, constant and sudden isolation inside a small apartment for weeks on end will inevitably lead to an increase in depression, if it hasn’t already. It is imperative that we work to lessen this blow as much as possible, otherwise we will need a lot more psychologists when the crisis ends.
Second, beyond mental health, it is simply unnatural for many, if not most individuals to sit at home and not do anything. Whether this would have previously be spent working, socializing, or doing a hobby, many of us are now spending a lot of time doing nothing more than refreshing Facebook feeds and watching YouTube. Instead, this time gives us the opportunity to brush up on rusty second language, read a few books that we had shelved for a while, or sit down at the piano to play some old tunes. It is very easy to succumb to the “couch potato” spirit that hangs above this quarantine, but we need to do our best to resist it. This is especially important when it comes to children, as this is time that they are losing from playing outside with their friends and classmates or attending piano/dance/karate lessons and whatnot. We owe it to each other to stay on our toes and maintain some sort of cultural normalcy, as we are all in this together.
In the featured photo illustration: model Vanessza Kapusi raising awareness of the importance of self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI