How is everyone, really? With the world’s largest powers struggling to contain what may very well be our generation’s largest medical emergency, it’s hard to ignore the somber sense of resignation that fills much of public discourse. Some countries like Vietnam and South Korea appear to be handling the situation fairly well, but the rest of the world is barely keeping up– or dropping the ball altogether. At least the internet makes it feel that way.
For the lot of us, there’s not much else to do than maintain proper social distance, ensure proper hygienic measures are taken, and hope for the best. Given the situation, where’s the mind to wander from here? In the din of something as uncompromising as a literal pandemic, the future may be the only place to turn to– a place yet unrealized, but may still hold the promise of better days.
Surprisingly, people are still holding out hope that when the global quarantines lift, there’d still be a semblance of normal to go back to. Others would posit that there is no normal after something of this scale. Whichever way you swing, it’s still apparently possible to imagine a post-COVID 19 future.
Either way, while the biggest brains (or egos) in the world go about their solutions for the pandemic, the future is the one thing we can all work towards building. Imagination is the first step to actualizing that future, so what could we imagine for society and the economic systems we live in?
The new normal
Strange things happen when you stuff people inside a box for a couple of weeks. At its worst, you get the setup to a 70s slasher. If we’re going to wax optimistic about things, there have been some surprising turns that may point towards a renewed sense of domesticity. From people learning an instrument, to taking up arts and crafts, or even things like baking bread from scratch, the new normal might make home life a bit more interesting than it used to be for most.
There is understandably a lot of discourse on the way governments and their health services addressed the pandemic, and the public, at least in some pockets of the internet, appears to be a lot more engaged than they’ve otherwise been. The ingenuity rising to the occasion, while hampered by individual resources and donor fatigue, shows that communities could come together to help solve major crises alongside government involvement.
Apart from essential on-the-ground service, the sudden shift to home-based employment for many office workers may have longer standing implications. If this continues after the quarantine lifts, remains to be seen. In areas with strong postage and courier systems, this could be a portend of things to come– digitally connected, and closer to home. There’s an obvious barrier for widespread acquisition due to the need for bolstered online infrastructure, and a need to supply workers with machines for remote work as needed, but untethered labor is becoming increasingly viable moving forward.
Will our supply chains keep up with quarantines left and right? Would people even still need to report for work when the option to work from home is made present? There are little glimmers of hope to the idea. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Until then, we’ll stay safe, and wash our hands.