If you thought that from March of 2020 through today was weird, scary, and over you had better think again. The coronavirus pandemic which completely upended our day-to-day lives will be with us for a good long time yet and is right now in the process of changing life permanently all over the world. You know it has happened with the advent of masks, gloves, and social distancing on an individual level, but it has also occurred on a much larger scale affecting societal, economic, and political levels.
No one knows right now how long the pandemic will last, but certainly the pandemic will eventually end. When it does end, many of the enormous changes that have happened because of the virus will likely return to normal. But some things will never go back to the way they were. The outbreak has affected so many parts of life and so many people that it stands as a pivotal point in our world history and fundamentally it has really altered the way we live. Life has changed and we are going to have to get used to it.
The Small Ways Things Have Changed and Will Change
I think there are some pretty obvious things that will become permanent from the onset of the pandemic. For example, a lot of workers and businesses will choose to continue remote work after social distancing ends. When this happens on a large enough scale, it could lead to a migration away from the big cities and a huge drop in commuting time and the toll of that aggravation. Can you imagination the benefit of avoiding that waste of time and being able to work from home all the time? It may become the norm for many more future workers.
The economic toll of the outbreak could make a lasting impact on a variety of business sectors, but especially education. Education will continue to move online allowing it to shift from just content dissemination to augmenting relationships with teachers, personalization, and independence.
It can and will affect public school education and more importantly, this may actually mean a reduction in the cost of college education even if we never reach the point of “free for all” as has been the rallying cry of many for years now. This may be a practical way to achieve higher advanced education at a much lower cost and a much easier way to deliver it!
Telehealth Is Here to Stay
Why didn’t we do this before? I have to tell you that I have always hated going to the doctors for a lot of reasons. Some are just because I hate it all period, but let’s get real for a second. Here’s how it usually goes, at least up until COVID-19 arrived.
The Old Way
First, I make an appointment with the doctor’s office staff by phone, usually it’s for their convenience and around their schedule, which I find annoying in itself. Sometimes later, they call and change it because of an unexpected change in their schedule (golf?) and I have to adjust. Me the customer? Yes, that’s right, me. As I have gotten older this routine has become way too prevalent.
Then the beauty part: the day of the visit arrives. I get there early thinking that I will be seen at my scheduled time and bingo, as I walk in the door I see five or six others all waiting to see the doctor, too. Can they all have a 2:00 PM appointment? Answer, yeah they probably do!
My simple trip to the doctor drags on and on and eventually the RN checks my vitals and I sit and wait some more. I get to spend about 15 minutes of real quality time with my doctor after spending 90 minutes in the office from start to stop (not even including the drive there and back). Sound familiar?
The New Way
Getting these technological platforms launched, providers trained, patients educated, and appointments converted to video visits is and will be a continued godsend. Oh and yes, on occasion when it’s necessary you will see a doctor in their office, but not regularly. Telehealth is an extraordinarily useful tool and its regular adoption could mean good things in the delivery of healthcare to all of us faster and maybe even less expensively, too.
Around the world political incompetence is going to lead to changes in political regimes. It could be done as local governments are pushed into political chaos and anarchy from the way they have handled COVID-19 and the mass mortality it brought into the streets. The combination of a deadly virus, inadequate planning, and incompetent leadership has placed humanity on a new and worrisome path. If I were president of the U.S., I think I would be concerned about it right about now.
The freight train that is online shopping is only growing from the pandemic. It was and will be a surefire way for everyone to shop and avoid returning to malls and shopping centers while staying healthy and avoiding crowds. Having free shipping and curbside pick-up will also be a really big benefit and the number of delivery services will grow, too!
Grocery shopping online will become even more common and all of the above will provide huge free time advances to make all of us more productive in our future. There is a downside to all of this though and it is worrisome…
The Decline of Restaurants and Collapse of Locally Owned Stores
The future isn’t looking very good for the small neighborhood shops and eateries. Why? Well, they will never be able to compete with the large tech giants who have the resources and money to service and satisfy the growing online business appetites. And as people move away from the “norm” of their pre-pandemic life, they will be looking for these techno giants to fill their needs. That’s the definition of “Amazon”, isn’t it?
It is definitely a downside for us, the social beings that we are, but I fear we will learn to adjust and not just temporally, but permanently. We may be living soon inside an old sci-fi movie that we saw as children where we just get used to pressing buttons and life is very predictable and certain and less dependent on the human element.
Some experts believe the pandemic could be the major event of the century that radically alters the world and changes life in its aftermath. Others argue that the virus has exposed deep flaws in the way the world economy functions. Building a more stable structure for global trade could mean significant alterations in how supply chains work. Others see the possibility for a political revolution that would shift the balance of power in countless countries. This revolution could lead to a more equitable society, or, some fear, a rise in authoritarianism and violent upheaval. The answers are not totally clear, but we all have experienced a scary dark time over the past several months.
We want to believe—and need to believe—that worst is truly behind us, but is it?
How have you changed during the last several months and do you believe the future looks promisingly normal? Do you think normalcy will return soon or are you adjusting to what is and will be a new normal?