What life will be after COVID-19

Right now, there are more places on earth that have been deeply affected by this once in a generation time global pandemic. The invisible enemy forced countries closed their borders, social distancing is mandatory in public areas, and millions of people stay inside their houses. We all wish that the pandemic situation will be controlled, the cure will be found, and the vaccine will be made, so we can leave this COVID-19 behind as what we did with all the other flu viruses, so we can go back to our “normal” life before this pandemic started. But, can we?

Globalization, started in 80’s, well-represented by the formation of European Union at the end of 20 century, progressed with lightning speed in the first 20 years of 21 century and highly praised for the improvement it brought to the human life, now it is the instrument of spreading of the virus and the cause of chain reaction for the economic disaster. Many industries in many countries realize how much they were dependent on what’s happening on the other side of the world. Hotels, airlines and restaurants in tourism sector are bleeding heavily. Many people in international business sector are struggling to do their job in the way that they always knew before. Businesses are distressed to get local supply from personnel to materials that keeps their business running. Farms are facing the difficulties to sell their harvest on time. From consumers to producers, everybody feels that they have to adjust how they manage their life “usually”. The trendy of “clean living” and “simple living” are more reality than kindness to our environment. Being local is preferable than being global now. But will our business world change from “being global” to “being local” after this pandemic? Can we? No, we cannot. The degree of globalization has reached to the point that there is no return. Yet, we have already been forced to find another way, to look for or create alternative methods to continue and sustain global economy going despite the heavy disrupted industrial chain. Such as, video conference cross different time-zone to ensure the logistical needs, robots, automatic machine devices to solve physical contact and shortage of labor. Businesses in all areas are looking for new models to share limited resources and save people’s jobs, like airlines in United States are talking about from code-sharing to operation-sharing, which is to combine those few passengers to the same destination from different carriers in one flight in order to minimize the cost. Online shopping business, like Alibaba, shared laid off workers from restaurants for labor resources to keep delivery service. Maybe, this pandemic will teach us to use resources more efficiently. What we also can learn and have already felt from this disaster is, nowadays, there is no problem that is “local” problem anymore. Like this pandemic situation we are in now. So, maybe after this, politically and economically, we will be more aware that helping each other, working together, acceptance of ideological, political and religious differences, is essential for the survival and prosperity of humanity.

Social distancing forced people to be involved with what is around their home rather than outside. They distanced with other people, but they are closer to their families and bounded with their communities. People started to learn cook more and more appreciate the joy of a good meal bring to the family. But, will we keep living the same way or will we go back to our before-COVID-19 life? Will we still fear to be close physically with other people or we will be distanced with others by all the distractions back to our life? Will we be able to resume what we are forced to stop? Are we going to spend as many as possible of our time outside and social more? Are we going to be comfortable to greet people with hugs and kisses? Or will we isolate ourselves? Will more people get married after this lonely quarantine time, or will have more couples decide to end their marriage after spending every day together for months?

Technology has played a big role in this pandemic, for keeping people informed, tracing the potential cases, for keeping people in touch no matter where you are and how far away you are, for entertaining people to pass weeks and months inside their houses. Virtual world is more into our real life than ever. Will we want to go back to real life even when we can? Will we still want to have a person to do customer service or we are simply content with a robot, a person by video call? Will we still want to shop in a mall, a store, or we will just continue the home delivery service for everything? Will this pandemic transfer human society more virtual earlier and deeper than we thought?

Financially, many of us already enjoyed cashless, virtual currency and digital banking. But will this become the only way that people will be comfortable with. But are we ready for this virtual way to manage our money? The boundaries, regulations in every country, will be changed to make cashless world possible globally? And people in areas, countries who do not have access to internet, smart phone, will they be forced to stay out or be forced to participate?

Environmentally, almost every one of us can tell what the modern lifestyle have caused the air, water and soil pollution. How hard did we try to put minimum impact on our environment by changing lifestyle? Some of us even argued that our everyday life was only affect little our environment. But after months stay-at-home, minimum traffic and air travel, those cities who have suffered all those years with air pollution, had recorded high days of clear air and blue skies. Will we be able to continue and adopt the new lifestyle: ride bikes to work, walk to do errands, have video conference instead of flying to other side of the globe, go hiking on the nearby mountain instead of travel to another country for vacation, …?

Social distancing is going on and on, we stay at home waiting for good news of this battle. We count days and are on standby to resume our interrupted life. And maybe, we also should enjoy this break, and take this chance to think about what is really important for us, for our society. Maybe, who knows, just maybe, we might and will need to find a new way to live.

@Li Guo Camiro