The pandemic may be officially over, but people are still counting the ways it changed their lives — and continues to do so.
Going through the coronavirus pandemic resulted in some things changing for the better in ways both small and large. Some airlines don’t charge fees to change your flight anymore; more people understand the importance of staying home when they’re sick.
But in many ways, the post-pandemic world hasn’t returned to what some consider “normal,” an idea that struck a nerve on social media recently.
A thread on Reddit’s homepage on Sunday asked, “What is something that still hasn’t gone back to normal after the pandemic?” It had garnered more than 16,000 comments as of Monday evening.
The replies spanned the gamut, with users venting their frustrations about everything from waning civility to more expensive dog food.
Some shared pain points included the following:
Pared-down service at some hotels and restaurants
“A lot of places that reduced services for ‘health and safety’ seem to have decided it saves too much money to bring back,” one Redditor said in a comment that was upvoted more than 27,000 times. “Many hotels aren’t doing daily service, fast-casual restaurants are leaning heavily towards take-out and delivery,” they added.
During the pandemic, many restaurants and hotels cut back on service as they tried to minimize interactions between customers and staff to reduce transmission of the coronavirus. Since then, restaurants have bounced back as people dive into eating out, a luxury that they were robbed of during the pandemic.
Yet they’ve carried on offering pandemic-era outdoor dining, alcohol delivery and takeout, as those are ways to “develop additional revenue for their restaurants,” according to the National Restaurant Association.
The service industry’s pandemic-era cost-cutting has also resulted in a discovery that its customers are mostly doing fine with fewer staff. But that lack of return to pre-pandemic norms is quickly becoming a very sore point.
“We recently stayed at a hotel for a week. We had to go down to the desk for fresh towels and we couldn’t get them to make up the room a single time though we requested it repeatedly,” another wrote. “Had to take out our own garbage.”
‘It’s brutal now’ thanks to the sharp increase in the cost of living
The rising cost of living featured prominently in complaints about the post-pandemic world.
In response to the question, “What is something that still hasn’t gone back to normal after the pandemic?” one Redditor simply stated, “the cost of things,” which resonated with many, as evidenced by the fact that it was upvoted nearly 24,000 times.
Consumer prices have risen sharply since the pandemic. In October, consumer prices rose 0.2%, the smallest increase in 15 months.
But over the last year, prices are up 3.2%. And given that shoppers experienced a 40-year high in inflation in 2022, prices of some items remain elevated. New cars, for example, hit a record high in 2022 and are still out of reach for many. Reddit commenters singled out used car prices, pita bread and plywood as products that they had noticed soaring in price.
Consider the average price of a 12-ounce bottle of orange juice, which is up nearly 25% from a year ago, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Or home prices, which are still up 2.5% from a year ago, despite mortgage rates surging to a 23-year high and home-buying demand falling apart.
The U.S. Federal Reserve has made inflation one of its chief targets, trying to use monetary policy to slow down the increase in consumer prices. But regional Fed leaders seem unsure as to whether the central bank has gone far enough to slow down the economy.
“It’s brutal now. People often talk about house prices and groceries and yeah that’s bad too, but the one I don’t hear enough people talk about is utility bills,” one Redditor noted.
“Dollar wise I find those went up by an insane amount. Last year natural gas alone basically doubled,” they added.
“I just bought my dog’s food. 40lb bag, same as always. $SEVENTY FIVE GODDAMNED DOLLARS$,” one user wrote. “[It] makes me afraid that there are people out there absolutely having to choose between feeding their dogs or feeding themselves. I’m lucky, I can afford to just complain about it.”
A decline in patience and friendliness in the post-pandemic world
Some noted a decline in civility as a result of the pandemic. During the pandemic, many around the world had to shelter in place and work remotely to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.
That was a big change in some people’s routines, and put pressure on relationships and even people’s mental health as they had to endure months on end in close quarters. It also made some people less skilled at interacting with strangers, and the effects of that isolation are still being felt, the Redditors said.
“The way many people behave in public truly became unhinged during the pandemic and shows no signs of slowing down,” one user wrote in a comment that was upvoted over 12,000 times.
“People were always nuts, it just became acceptable to show it in public,” another added. “People have always been crazy, they just don’t hide it anymore.”
“Road rage incidents and bad driving have continued to be atrocious. I thought it was bad before, but it ramped up during the pandemic and it’s still bad,” one user wrote. “It’s like everyone is playing Grand Theft Auto in single-player mode without a care for everyone else on the roads going about their business.”
A rise in tipping — and frustration about it
Redditors also sounded off about tipping, with several saying that requests for tips seems to have become an ever-present ask during every consumer transaction, even ones where there’s no service involved. One wrote, “I worked in hospitality for 20 years. I’m a very good tipper if I’m actually being served. But now I’m basically expected to tip everyone for everything?”
A Bankrate survey earlier this year found that tipping fatigue is real, with two in three Americans admitting they’re feeling less gracious about gratuities these days.
Post-pandemic silver linings
To be sure, there are a number of things that we’re now able to enjoy that weren’t there before the pandemic hit, that weren’t noted on the Reddit thread.
For instance, some airlines don’t charge any change fees now for certain fares, a policy they put in place during the pandemic when travel was severely disrupted. Prior to the pandemic, some airlines were stricter on change fees.
At work, co-workers have a heightened degree of awareness over sickness. If one is sick themselves, they stay at home and work remotely to prevent the spread. Prior to the pandemic, they may have felt pressured to go into the office, rather than to call in a sick day.
The pandemic has woken employers and workers up to that flexibility.