The new “Roaring 20s”?

The happy twenties of the last century

The need to leave behind the dramas of the First World War (1914-1918) and the unjustly named 'Spanish Flu', which began in the last months of the Great War, allied with a climate of euphoria and blind confidence in the capitalist system. The need to leave behind the dramas experienced in the First World War (1914-1918) and the unjustly called 'Spanish Flu' that began just in the last months of the Great War, allied with the arrival of technical advances and changes in social customs to shape the new spirit of modernity. An era linked to partying, economic waste and sexual debauchery. Apart from particularities and distances, there are several voices from the academic world that predict a repetition of the 'post-Covid crazy years'.

Before continuing to draw parallels, it would be worth reflecting on whether those years were as happy as the memories that popular culture has taken care to fix on us.

Behind the chimera of prosperity symbolised by endless glamorous parties to the rhythm of jazz or Charleston, there was the advance of totalitarianism, the threat of a new war of enormous proportions and a speculative bubble that would end up bursting in the crash of '29.The new spirit of modernity, sweeping away the reveries that had characterized this opulent era of bold garçon haircuts and art deco skyscrapers.

Here (and now) the early twenties weigh down an evolving and unresolved episode. After more than half a year of restrictions and modifications in our social behaviors, the longed-for moment when the pandemic is behind us will be a great celebration that is beginning to be imagined in many people's heads. Although in the case of a pandemic, perhaps that moment will be diffuse rather than abrupt, and there are health precautions that we will have to continue to maintain. Undoubtedly, humanity is facing one of its greatest challenges in the battle against SARS-CoV 2, and the creation of the different vaccines in record time is an unprecedented scientific milestone. We know that the next few years will be crucial, but they are not the only challenges we face. The energy crisis and the climate emergency will condition our way of life and require the joint and decisive action of citizens and governments to minimize their impact. You have to have a lot of techno-optimism and faith in the system to think that we can continue to squeeze the finite resources of the planet without consequences.

Epidemiologist and sociology researcher at Yale University Nicholas Christakis believes that the current stage of the pandemic will last at least until the end of 2021, followed by a transition period, and around 2024 we will enter the post-pandemic. After the economic recovery is complete, society could enter a phase that, with nuances, could resemble those roaring twenties. Christakis expects our socializing trend to accelerate as the economy and the arts thrive. "People will tirelessly seek out social interactions."

Logic tells us that after retreating into our homes and drastically reducing our encounters with other people, we will gradually reclaim our socializing spaces, but on the intimate level, different dynamics are likely to intersect.

On the one hand, On the one hand, a possible sexual frenzy arising from the need to feel relief after seclusion, and on the other, a reluctance to cross certain thresholds of physical contact. Communication through screens has installed us in a social laziness towards "real" physical relationships that we will find it hard to get rid of.

This screen-isation of social relations, this Screen New Deal as Naomi Klein defined it - which confinement has accelerated and established - has led many people to find their accommodation in virtuality, a place of greater security. But human beings are human in their relationship with the rest of the world, in physical contact with others, and it is in this direct relationship that things happen because there is involvement. This is what Francesc Núñez Mosteo, an expert in the sociology of emotions and Director of the Master's in Humanities (UOC), argues when studying the evolution of relationships in pandemic times. Physical interaction, the presence of bodies generates bonds, commitments and, in general, the wisdom of life.

Taking our foot off the accelerator that the confinement meant also helped us to feel things more.

The presence of the virus and the restrictions it entails have required us to rethink our relationships and interdependencies, making us more selective and creating smaller close groups that have been able to go deeper among their members. This is how Carme Guillén, coordinator of the psychology and society group of the COPC (Official College of Psychology of Catalonia) analyses it, making a distinction between how it has affected and will affect depending on the vital moment or personal situation. It will have a different impact for mature people who live with a partner than for those who would like to find one, or for those who are entering adolescence, with a whole world to discover.

The very notion of "safe sex" requires redefinition. While it used to be understood as the use of prophylactic methods to avoid the transmission of diseases, at the present time when a physical approach, even without contact, has the potential to transmit the virus, this concept becomes more complex. It is up to each individual to determine what requirements need to be met in order to feel safe. The second part is to share them in order to know the other person's and be able to negotiate them. It is no problem to ask about topics such as how they use their masks, what risky situations they face in their day to day life, how wide their social bubble is, or even to ask them to take a test before a meeting. Communication, honesty and empathy to be able to achieve peace of mind and once obtained... let everything burn with the right spark.

Wedo not know what the years of this new decade will bring us, nor how they will be similar to or different from those of the last century, but if there is one thing that humanity promises us, it is constant change, the obligatory adaptation to survive, while facing similar and recurring problems, such as economic crises, political tensions, pandemics. "Old acquaintances" to which new ones will be added, and to which we will have the option of responding. On which of the possible alternatives we choose will depend our fate as a collective, that same collective that we are so determined to divide but that shares the same ground and sky.

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