A crystal ball would be an amazing tool to own right now. Nothing fancy. Just round and shiny and smooth. No app to download. No charger required. It would tell us everything we need to know living in our upside-down-COVID-19-world.
We could ask it questions. How long are we going to live like this? Will I get my job back? Will I be able to pay my rent? When will I be able to eat at a restaurant and go to the movies or see a concert or watch my favorite team play? Will our lives change forever? What good will come out of this pandemic.
The short answer is: we don’t know…yet.
But one thing is for sure. We’ve changed.
A new Pew Research Center survey finds that the coronavirus outbreak is having profound impact on Americans in a variety of ways. Nearly nine-in-ten U.S. adults say their life has changed at least a little as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, including 44% who say their life has changed in a major way.
Today’s existential threat has left many Americans jobless, isolated, and wondering: What will happen next? Some possibilities:
- Since so many governments were caught unprepared, we could see stronger government action and an international pandemic initiative to handle future outbreaks. (Visual: senate/house/politicians)
The Department of Homeland Security was developed in the aftermath of 9/11 as a direct government response to national security threat. So too will we see policy changes to combat the threat of future infectious diseases especially with strong leadership we’ve witnessed from people like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Governors Andrew Cuomo, Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis.
- There could be a shift in geopolitics and a possible rise in nationalism. (Visual: world leaders?)
Nations across the world have closed their borders to combat the spread of the virus. We may see possible a change in how we conduct ourselves as country around the globe.
“With every country closing its borders, there’s a risk that if any kind of unification does happen, it will just be at the national level. At the end of this, the English will say ‘we rallied and we did this on our own,’ and the French will say the same thing, and the Italians will say the same thing … so I think nationalism could be an outcome. (Source: Inside Business)
- More work could become remote, businesses might not hire as many people as they had before the pandemic, and that could lead to a universal less income. (Visual: remote workers)
Millions of Americans are currently working from home to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus. The increase of telecommuting/working from home may lead to a fundamental shift in how companies manage staff including more layoffs and a reshaping of how we view work.
- Disruptions in education could lead to long-term consequences. Or we may see the development of new, creative solutions for remote learning. (Visual: computer-on-line classes-classroom)
As American children are forced to switch to remote learning for the remainder of the school year, difficulties and distraction will make learning from home far more difficult. And the disparity is alarming. Some schools with many families don’t have access to internet that would allow them to adequately homeschool. And others, like Broward County, who have the resources, distribute devices to facilitate remote learning.
HOW HAVE WE CHANGED?
We may not yet know how we’ve truly changed since we’re still living through this crisis, but it’s clear our lives have adjusted.
Traditional “off-line” businesses around the world are being decimated including hotels, car manufacturers, restaurants, retail and airplanes. The digital world, however, is thriving. We are surviving through this pandemic because of technology.
Everyone is sitting at home. Their connections beyond their front doors down the street and across the globe is through their smartphone.
In the post-pandemic world, technology will be as ubiquitous as it is now, if not more, and tech companies will become even more powerful and dominant.
On the international level, there will be less cooperation. The trend of nationalism and self-reliance will continue, especially as the fear of the “external” and “foreign” can be exploited by populists.
Where were you when the pandemic happened? Life as we know it may be looked at in terms of BC “Before Conronavirus”. Many people will look back and see this as a time when things changed in their lives dramatically.
Much of our lives are habitual, and habits are highly effective in helping us work, look after our families and pursue our goals. This pandemic has changed those habits. Now we work and travel in a different way. Our daily routines changed, including when and how we eat and how we live and communicate with our families and friends. Soon new habits will begin to form.
The death toll and the number of people contracting the virus is exacting a massive psychological toll on the world’s population, and there are bound to be calls for action. People across the globe will use COVID-19 as a strong justification to demand universal healthcare.
For Americans, we will look at other countries who have provided their citizenry with top notch care particularly those who offer universal healthcare. Sadly, the United States ranks 30th in the world for healthcare. The pandemic is a true litmus test on healthcare systems. What works. What doesn’t. We will no doubt make changes. The fear is too great not to.
“LGBT people around the world are insanely resilient, but they face isolation every day in their life,” says J. Andrew Baker, co-President of Interpride, the international association of Pride organizers. “One of the challenges we find today is that LGBT people are even more isolated.”
To overcome that isolation, the world’s biggest international Pride networks, Interpride and the European Pride Organisers Association, are organizing a “Global Pride” to be celebrated online on June 27. Global Pride organizers are planning a 24-hour live streamed event, including remote contributions from international Prides, speeches from human rights activists, workshops with activists and high-profile performers yet to be confirmed.
We humans are social animals. We need it. Crave it. Seek it out. So, when the fog lifts ever so gently, we will surge back to what we love to do. Live. And socialize! Americans and the LGBT community in particular will bounce back from this. But as history shows us, for good or for bad, we have a pretty short-term memory. It’s hard to know if people will think and act differently.
Will we adapt our behavior or go back to what we did before? Will people ever go on cruise ships again? Or go to concerts in huge arenas sweating shoulder-to-shoulder? Most likely we will. How can we not?
The question of how the epidemic ends and how we ultimately change is a really interesting one. And one we wish we could answer now. Oh, to own a crystal ball!