Monday, June 22, 2020

Will everyday life change future romances?


As we move further into the pandemic, and things start to ease in various countries, I continue to think about how all of this will impact the romance genre. I talked about whether it will impact contemporary romance in another post. But today, I want to explore some of the changes I've seen happening around me and if those changes are here to stay. Consider this a follow up from the previous article.

The romance genre has always been very contemporary in the sense that it's been a reflection of the times. Think about the bodice rippers and the alleged rape scenes in those old skool romances that sailed over our heads when we read them in the 80s and but sends a tendril of shock through our systems. Most recently, the #metoo movement has seen a surge in consent in romance, and of course, when STDs were particularly prevalent safe sex and having the "sex talk" before sex was key. That still holds today.

What of the pandemic then? First off, there's social distancing. This is a biggie. I'm a hugger, and I love hugging and kissing my friends when I see them again after a long or short time apart. And then there's the handshaking. Physical contact has been discouraged and people have come up with ways to "shake" feet and elbows. There are some great videos floating around showing this. Will this become the norm of how we greet people? And will it be reflected in our stories?

Grocery store

One very obvious physical reminder of the pandemic is the perspex barriers we now find at checkout counters in stores. All my grocery stores now have perspex barriers between us and the checkout clerk. And the self-checkout counters have turned into little booths also separated by perspex barriers. I wondered out loud to Steve if these barriers would come down after the pandemic is over, but his opinion is no, they won't. They do serve a useful purpose and a layer of protection for the checkout clerk. It might not stop a bullet, but it could act as a deterrent in a smash and grab robbery though I do not know how strong these barriers are. But say a character goes shopping, the author might decide to mention the perspex barriers.

And speaking of grocery stores, what about wiping down shopping trolleys and sanitizing everything? Will people continue to be diligent about hygiene in general, or will that lapse? I know that I am now very diligent about wiping down shopping trolleys and baskets before touching and using them. And when I am done, I grab a disinfectant wipe and wipe down my hands after touching everything. How about a character who's a germaphobe? Maybe he or she is even more so after the pandemic?


This leads to disinfecting everything that comes from outside the home. Each time we get a parcel or letter from the post or courier, we spray it with disinfectant spray first before touching them. And after opening and touching the stuff, we wash everything where it's possible to wash them and wash our hands. Of course, we are doing that a lot since we can't get to shops, we are ordering a lot more stuff online. I've been going through a lot of disinfectant spray.

At one point, we were wearing gloves whenever we went out and had to touch anything. Two things on that front. It's kind of defeats the purpose if you touch your face with dirty gloves. It's so easy to forget what you've touched and how often we touch our faces. Plus, we were running out of gloves, and they are next to impossible to find in stores to buy. I got ripped off by a seller on Amazon when I tried to buy gloves online, but that's another story. I tend to use gloves a lot in my everyday life anyway since I use them when handling a lot of things, especially when cooking, to keep things clean. These days, we rely on disinfectant wipes for our hands after handling anything foreign, and that seems easier to remember to do properly though nothing is 100% foolproof.

Airport travel

There's going to be a huge impact on travel too. Already there are changes to the way people travel with airlines implementing additional safety and hygiene measures. I saw a friend posting a picture of a flight from Singapore to Mumbai, and everyone was issued face masks and plastic face shields that they had to wear for the entirety of the flight. There's talk of no longer serving drinks or food on flights, and closing all airport lounges. One friend who was flying to Hong Kong showed a picture of health monitoring stations at the airport where everyone got checked and had to wear a health monitor. I can't even begin to speculate what this will do to the travel industry. Since a lot of stories include some travel, there's bound to be mention of these new health and safety measures in travel.

Another friend's wife's family owns a hotel in Bangkok. They are implementing contactless check-in and check-out procedures, along with disinfecting everyone and everything they bring into the hotel. Food is being served in hotel rooms only, and restaurants are still closed. So say a story is set in a hotel or a character goes to check-in at a hotel. Perhaps some of these new measures would be included?

Let us not forget that at some point there will be a vaccine. When the vaccine will be approved for mass roll out, how the vaccine will be rolled out, who will get the vaccine will have far reaching consequences. And what about those anti-vaxxers? Will they continue to hold their stance and not want a vaccine? An author might decide to mention something about people being vaccinated for the virus if it suits the story.

Injection syringe vaccine

These are little things that are happening to individuals in their everyday lives, and depending on how long things go on for, certain things might become ingrained habits for a lot of people. Will hygiene and sanitization become more habit forming? Could they lead to some more compulsive behaviour? I do not know since I can't see into the future.

I know that moving forward, if certain habits and practices stay on, they will become a part of people's everyday lives, and those things should probably be reflected in new stories written. As in all things, a light touch is needed in dealing with these things. A small mention here or there, enough to acknowledge these changes to life and this big worldwide event that's taken place with far reaching consequences. I know many authors do a lot of research into the things they put into their books, but the final results could only be a simple sentence or paragraph mentioning that thing. It's unnecessary to bash the reader over the head with lots of detail when a slight mention is enough to get the point across so as not to take away from the story.

Eating in a restaurant

Of course, all this is pure speculation on my part. I do not know what the future holds. I do not know how stories will be written. That all depends on the creativity of the authors. It's like the slew of quarantine romances out right now. I don't understand (I haven't read any because... reasons!) how a lockdown romance can be romantic and how they can have a happy ending since the pandemic is not over, there's no vaccine, and they can't be together with social distancing and isolation without breaking the rules. I do get that forced proximity is a popular trope. Sorry! Tangent!

Tell me what you think? Do you think what's happening now will be habit-forming? What's going to make it into books?

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