Before and after
We’re still in the midst of it. Quarantine, lockdown, self-isolation. The measures are extreme and so is the situation.
There is room for hope though, the infection curve seems to be flattening in most countries — China, Italy, Spain. It remains to be seen what’s going to happen in America and the rest of the world which haven’t been so much affected yet. They may get away with it or may not.
In any case this is uncharted territory for a number of reasons and one things is clear- when Corona goes, things will never be the same.
We are going to see permanent changes happening at many levels. We’ve seen change before but not at this level or speed.
These changes are coming from two fronts: the virus and the economy.
People sense of security has been altered and that’s going to permeate to the subconscious level.
This is going to affect people’s interactions:
- Less trust on strangers
- Less unnecessary traveling
- Less promiscuity
- Less personal contact i.e handshakes, hugs, kisses
- Masks will become ubiquitous
- Personal space will increase
- Less social interactions
- More isolation
- The nuclear family could see a revival
- Single life will be less attractive
- Houses will become safe havens
- The virtual world is going to expand, the real world is going to shrink
The effects on the economy are going to be deep and disruptive. Most changes will be permanent.
- Massive unemployment for a few years
- Sharp increase in teleworking. Office space will become redundant.
- Sharp increase in distance learning. Schools and Universities will merge into the virtual world.
- Increase in self-employment, freelance and entrepreneurship
- We will become more self-sufficient
- A decrease in globalization
- Businesses that attract crowds will have to adjust or disappear. Cinemas, theaters, restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms, airlines.
- China exports are going to take a permanent hit
- Aviation industry will be decimated
- Tourism will be redefined
- Virtual worlds will emerge. Socializing, networking, entertainment and sex will move online.
- The end of cash
- The end of free movement of people around the world
In general we are going to see a more isolated world at many levels — personal, family and nationally, and a more connected world online.
We are becoming Japanese
Like I mention on another post, Japan was ready for this, they have been showing us the way all along.
In Japan, people wear masks all year round, they are extremely hygienic in every situation, touch gestures are avoided ( no handshakes or hugs even among families) and sex is considered too messy and risky.
There is a word in Japanese for everything:
- hikikomori or acute social withdrawal
- Otaku or young person who is obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture to the detriment of their social skills.
- Shosokudanshi or herbivore men- men who have no interest in getting married or finding a girlfriend
- Mendokushai or bothersome. Often referred to relationships
Japan is becoming increasingly less interested in social interactions, particularly relationships and sex, the birth rate has been plummeting for years despite all the government efforts to revive it. That brings its own problems, like a declining and aging population and the consequent complications for social security and health care, but it reduces enormously the probability of spreading disease.
Our lifestyle in the west is going to become Japanese or even more extreme.
The picture is a bit gloomy, we will have to adjust and once we get used to it, it won’t be as bad as we think.
On a positive note
We and the planet will benefit through the following changes:
- Less traveling. Let’s face it, most traveling is overrated. To bring a bunch of tourist to Paris to take a few pictures of the Eiffel tower and then eat pizza by the Seine is ridiculous. We’ve been sold into this promise of romanticized travel that doesn’t really delivers anything apart from jet lag, overpriced food and blurry selfies. Real adventurers will keep traveling but this mass tourism is pointless and will have to stop. I have travel to 40+ countries and have to say that unless you spend a long time in the country and get to really know the locals, there is very little point in this leisure travel. Stay at home and read books, you will learn more.
- Less commuting. Spending two hours a day to get to an office where all you do is use a computer connected to the internet is absurd. I’ve always wondered why we are still doing this. This is going to be the final push, companies and their office workers have finally realized it can be done and it’s actually much cheaper, more efficient and better.
- More time for yourself. Providing you don’t waste it watching Netflix or the News, you’ll have more time to reflect, to meditate, to be creative and to start new projects.
- The virtual world will become more real. Business, leisure, personal relationships will move to the cloud. The systems will improve a lot and the experience will feel almost real. The potential and demand for developing technologies will grow exponentially, especially for those technologies that provide Virtual Reality and trust. What we’ve seen so far in social media is nothing compare to what’s coming. Augmented reality will provide us with virtual bars, cafes and concerts without leaving your house. Deep relationships will be formed with people you’ll never meet offline.
- Globalization make everyone too dependent on third countries. This will stop and the local industries will benefit. There will be more jobs, more entrepreneurship, more artisans, more creativity and less waste.
- Goods are going to become more expensive but better quality and they’ll last for longer. It’ll be the end of the wasteful consumerism
- People will gain agency, we’ll strive to become more self-sufficient. Being able to grow your own vegetables, to build a shed or to fix your washing machine will become important in an isolated world. Again is about reducing dependency.
- We will prepare better for SHTF scenarios. Our homes will be a shelter in which we could survive for months with no outside input.
- And of course the biggest beneficiary of it all will be the planet. With fewer humans messing about the planet will recover its past splendor very quickly and we’ll all benefit from that.
It will take time to adjust to the new situation but eventually we’ll manage and the new scenario will become normal.
Now, make sure you get ready for the next one.