I remember that when I was in high school and university, people still smoked in bars. When going to a restaurant, the hostess would ask you two questions: how many people in your party, and whether you wanted to sit in the smoking or non-smoking section. When I speak to student groups these days, I tell them that when I was in university, I didn't have a mobile phone. They're shocked by this, and don't really understand how I got in touch with my friends. (And c'mon, I'm not even that old: I graduated in 2004, which was right on the cusp of when university students started using mobile phones.)
Ten years after 9/11, and the security theatre at airports is part of our culture and threat levels of various colours are part of our vocabulary.
In all three of these cases, we almost look back at the recent past and laugh about how we used to live our lives. "I can't believe people used to smoke in restaurants!", "How did I ever meet up with friends without a cellphone in university?", or "Remember when you only needed a driver's license to cross the Canada-US border?" are all pretty common comments about "the good old days".
Is our current state of pandemic panic going to persist as well? Will I be telling future generations that they used to send out memos to people reminding them to use hand sanitizer?
PS: If anyone has suggestions for a brand of swine-flu preventing face masks that look good with a suit, let me know.