Introducing the Virtual Pandemic Time Capsule

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Dangit, Zoom!

The potentially wonderful news Monday that a Covid-19 vaccine could be coming as soon as later this year, with widespread (if awfully complicated!) deployment as early as spring, served as a reminder of a mantra we all told ourselves at the beginning of the pandemic but have largely forgotten in the madness of 2020: This will all end someday. Time may have seemed like it stopped back in March and will never re-start again, but it, in fact, will. You will hug your extended family again. You will go to dinner parties where you meet people you didn’t know beforehand again. You will sit shoulder-to-shoulder with your fellow fans at a football game again. That did not all just go away forever. It’s going to happen again. And it may happen sooner than we might have thought.

Which means that someday, we’re all going to look back at this year, this pandemic, this incredible time, as something that is over. It will be a sad time, full of loss and pain and regret, but as the years go by, the curiosities and peculiarities of the age will fade and become relics … artifacts of a time only partly remembered. We might not look back at all this and chuckle, like remembering when everyone wore Hammer pants. But we will look back and shake our heads, at what we had to live through and what we had to embrace to do so.

Which leads me to a new series here at Medium we’ll be doing once a month until the pandemic is over: The Pandemic Time Capsule. Every month, we’ll look at five things that weren’t a part of our lives before the pandemic, and likely won’t be afterward, but will forever remind us of this period and what it was like to be alive during it. Send me your nominees for the Pandemic Time Capsule at or just leave them in the Responses. We’ll be back with an another installment next month.

For now, your first five inductees. We’ll be burying this Time Capsule at some point. Here’s what will be in it.

It remains one of the most remarkable aspects of the pandemic that, one day, millions of us had never even heard of Zoom, and the next thing you knew our entire professional lives depended on it. Zoom won’t vanish in a post-pandemic world; we will still want the option to have meetings without traveling across the country. But people will go back to offices, kids will go back to school, friends will have actual happy hours with each other. But if you don’t have Zoom constantly installed on your computer in 2022, I’m betting you’re going to be just fine.

The best selling item for many semi-upscale retail clothing stores during the pandemic has been masks, and I get it: If every time you go out in public for nearly a whole calendar year requires you to wear a mask, you should aim higher than a flimsy blue disposable piece of paper. But while we’re likely to be much more comfortable wearing masks when we have a cold or a flu when this is all over, we won’t need them constantly … and we won’t need to worry about how we look when we do. It’ll be nice to see someone wearing a mask someday and think, “Hey, that’s unusual,” won’t it?

My children just finally went back to in-person schooling this week, and assuming it holds — and that’s a big assumption! — it will be the end of the learning pod my family created with two others to get us through virtual schooling. Basically, every Monday morning, I had to report every goings-on with every member of my family so they the other parents knew we were safe, and then hear the goings-on with every member of everyone else’s family, so we knew that they were safe, just so our children could sit next to each other all day on their iPads and pretend to be paying attention to their teachers. I will miss this the least.

Of all the things on this list … this is the one we will all deny we were a part of making so popular. And we will all be lying.

Maybe … maybe this one is just me. But I’ll confess: It did help.

Send me your Pandemic Time Capsule nominees at or leave them in the Responses. I’m sure you have plenty.

Will Leitch writes multiple pieces a week for Medium. He lives in Athens, Georgia, with his family, and is the author of five books, including the upcoming novel “How Lucky,” released by Harper next May. He also writes a free weekly newsletter that you might enjoy.

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Writer, New York, NYT, MLB, WaPo, others. Founder, Deadspin. Author of four books, with fifth, “How Lucky,” coming May 2021.

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