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Is it safe to come out of the cave?

There's even a name for it now.

A Florida psychiatrist has dubbed it Cave Syndrome, the anxiety people may be experiencing as they transition in a new post-vaccine world, from working and sheltering at home to, well, something approaching normalcy.

I will admit I was a bit put off while watching the doctor interviewed from his home by a Miami television station, as I fixated on the painted dolphins at the bottom of his indoor home swimming pool, Florida-style cave markings I suppose.

Still, I think the doctor is on to something.

After all, many of us were more or less escorted into a personal lockdown by our employers and government, warned that we would be safer and better citizens for staying home.

Now, a year later, they're ripping open the door and telling us to come out. The government is, anyway. Many employers are next.

But what if it's become too comfy in the cave?

American capitalism did its best to accommodate our cave lifestyles and responded at warp speed to provide all kinds of new ways to deliver and stream products to our caves. We remodeled and decorated and got cozy.

Some of the biggest pandemic business booms have been in the stock of home shopping giant Amazon and the real estate market, as people trade up to bigger and better caves.

I saw a TV ad the other day promising to deliver erectile dysfunction medicine overnight to your front door. Yes, I think a lot of that has been going on in caves.

I believe many Connecticut lawmakers are likely suffering from Cave Syndrome, happy to let the governor keep exercising his king-like COVID-19 powers and running everything. The lure of spending those coming billions in federal stimulus money, however, might get them off Zoom and out of the cave.

I will admit to enjoying some pleasures of pandemic cave life.

It's never been easier to entertain. Guests aren't welcome inside. You just set up a couple of chairs outside, put out some sanitizer and they mostly bring their own stuff to eat and drink.

There are downsides, too.

I think a lot of those who have been working from home have learned that convenience is a two-edged sword. While on the one hand you never commute to the office, on the other you never really leave it.

Employers must have discovered productivity hasn't suffered, or so many wouldn't be thinking about closing offices for good.

I can't talk about working from home without thanking those who couldn't. All those who kept us fed, healthy, protected and functioning, even during the most treacherous infection spikes, deserve so much more than a thank you.

The beginning of the pandemic started a learning curve for those confined largely to their caves. I remember reading an interview early on with a New Yorker who felt the need to go into a closet in the morning and grab the pole holding the hangers, to replicate her lost subway experience.

I am sure many parents never learned how to combine their own work and kids' learning under one roof.

Now we are asked to start returning to normal, and as the doctor who swims with the painted dolphins might tell you, there can be a level of anxiety resuming our old lives, getting out of the house and back into the real world and mixing with real people.

Entertaining might mean cleaning the house again.

I'm looking forward to a post-vaccine life beyond the cave. I've been feeling a bit cavebound for a while.

But I see how some might struggle with it. Be nice to them.

This is the opinion of David Collins.


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