This isn't really a Story. It is an unfolding story that is being told every day. I am not alone in seeing some signs that the New Normal is in a battle with the "Old Normal" as our future. So this isn't as much a story, as a collection of thoughts, experiences, and conversations about what might be the Future for us. Just my opinions - as scrambled as they are. So take it with a grain of salt, maybe you see (or hear) a different future. I would love to read your thoughts about it. Smiles, Kevin
Man, the blue sky is bluer, crisper, brighter than I can ever remember - even more so than my childhood, I think. Vibrant is the word that pops into my mind. Sometimes, on my walks now, I just stand there and take it all in. I can hear the birds (since so few cars zoom by anymore), I can smell the grass and trees again…no kidding!
I had forgotten that us Human types do not have dog level senses, but we do have a fairly keen sense of smell…enough so that if the cars stop putting out fumes, you can smell the grass, trees, creeks (yes, water has a smell too). You can even smell animals from a ways off. I smelled a dog, but couldn’t see him- then he came out from the bushes about thirty feet or so from me. (ten meters for you European Friends) I was delighted to know that I could do that.
I saw a picture in an article about what Travel might look like when the Pandemic is over. It was “Economy Class” on an airplane. They put up those “snot guards” between the seats like you see over salad bars, or between you and a cashier at a grocery store nowadays.
I laughed out loud.
First, the air in a plane is recycled just a few times an hour (it saves them plenty of money not to do it all the time) and the Virus is airborne. So…what use is the snot guard?
Second, with the two seats facing the other way…how do you get in and out of the row?
Third: Can you imagine having two people staring at you for the entire trip? Socially awkward, uncomfortable, and probably dangerous. Dogs aren’t the only animal that doesn’t like direct eye contact for long periods of time. LOL
And last, but not least- who in the world is going to fly anywhere…and certainly not in a crowded clogged confined space like economy class. I think the future of flying is going to be much different- and I don’t think economy class is going to survive.
You will have to have a darn good reason to go anywhere in person. And health will be your first concern…not an incidental afterthought.
That is just from the personal side of travel. Nobody is going to want to get “trapped” in a foreign country (Again) if the Virus breaks out. Nor are they going to want to wait out any kind of quarantine. Perhaps only tested folks with a special travel permit will fly…and then only with a damn good reason.
What about the “Earth Day” type rewards for not filling the sky with planes? People are getting a glimpse of clean air, blue skies, and views that extend miles with no Fog, or particulate matter to obscure the views.
Do we want to go back to a polluted sky? Contaminated water? And noise and light pollution? I don’t mean as individuals, but as a Society? Tourism may be a thing of the past…or severely restricted so that we keep pristine places…pristine. LOL
Work. I already have seen some massive changes about work. For one, pants may be dead! Folks are staying at home to work remotely - and they aren’t dressing up. No collars, no belts, no crisp knife like creases in dress clothes.
Nope. Sweat pants, yoga pants, pajamas…those are the new work clothes. People are comfortable - they even have come up with a nickname for Jeans, Business pants and suits: Hard Pants. Yep. Anything restrictive or needing a belt…gone.
Just a hoodie and pair of loose shorts will do.
And that is just the window dressing part of the changes I have seen. People are quitting jobs almost as fast as they are losing jobs. Why?
Well, one millennial I talked to on his porch (I was on the side walk a good three meters away or more- and I had a mask…another new wardrobe item!) said this to me:
“I worked seventy hours a week for a decade (waving at his house), my wife works fifty hours, plus the other hundred she puts in at home with me and my daughter. Our day was to wake up, rush thru breakfast, say goodbye to each other. My wife would wait an hour to get my daughter off to school, then she was off to work.
10 to 12 hours later - we met up for supper. A quick movie or show on Netflix, tuck my daughter in bed…repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Now I have a family. We had to figure out some teething things that first week or so. We didn’t know how to be a family, how to hang out with each other. I found out that I really like my wife. My daughter is a delight. Turns out, we all have found a bit of creativity inside us.
My wife has decided not to go back to work - if it is more than twenty hours a week…and she wants to work from home. I support her. But I don’t want to go back to work either.
So we are selling the second car. We are getting super frugal, and I have already floated the idea of working from home by my Boss. And if I have to work more than forty hours anymore…well, I won’t. I like my family. A lot.”
I have heard that story in several different ways. A couple of relatives have told me they are rethinking college now…since their first year was interrupted. They want to know just what they are paying for?
And if you can teach them remotely (except for labs and engineering experiments) then why support a huge campus? As my one relative said: “Only the best teachers are figuring out how to teach remotely…so why would I take a class from a person who isn’t as good…and why wouldn’t everyone sign up for the Great Teacher’s class instead of some over worked TA or Grad Student?”
People are pondering things like this. Big Weddings…those are out. Or growing rarer and rarer. One of my younger friends had a big wedding planned for October…now she says:
“You know what, it isn’t my day to be a Princess. It is the beginning of my married life to my best friend. We are only inviting a few very close friends, and our Mom and Dad’s, and siblings, now. A party instead of a parade.“
Wow. Think about that for a second: Pomp and circumstance, tradition and pride are taking a back seat to what it actually means to get married. People are looking to the future with a different set of standards.
People are even taking stock of who they want to stay in contact with on Social Media. I mean really thinking about who they talk to, when, and about what. Of course there is the general wide world Social Web…but individually, people are making a concerted effort to stay in contact with folks they really like…and actually talking with them! Cool.
Already there are signs that people are kind of separating into two general categories: Money is more important than people…and the opposite: People are more important than money.
Folks don’t want to be millionaires anymore…nor do they want corporations to make a few of us billionaires while others don’t have a place to stay. The greed of the Capitalistic System is being stripped bare for everyone to see. And some folks don’t want to work what amounts to a pyramid scheme on steroids. The average worker makes minimum wage, where the owner or Board of Directors make literally a Million times what they do- or more!
The supply infrastructure wasn’t ready for this change, in part because the system was set up to be efficient at only one thing: lower costs, higher profits. So there was no “fat” in the system to sustain it while new methods were found to combat the losses. Just like a human body. You need a little padding to handle long term stress. There is a reason that Navy Seals and Special Forces stopped trying for three percent body fat..and upped it to ten to twelve percent. That little difference keeps one Soldier thru hard times, and the other is out of resources or reserves.
That’s what the pandemic is showing us about supply side economies too.
Education…the Value of teachers is showing up. Lots of Op Ed’s out there from harried mothers who are trying to figure out how to use Google Classroom, and teach it to their kids who are also new to screen time learning. And the Mother’s and Stay at Home Dad’s are starting to voice some concerns. Is academic learning more important than social/emotional learning for young students right now?
And why is the Classroom set up to resemble the old authoritarian model: “If you are late you are marked tardy!”
How can you be “late” to an electronic class, that is safely ensconced in the Cloud? You can get to it at any time (or at least you should be able to). Sure you won’t be online at the same time as your peers, but the information is the same.
Things like that have to be figured out too.
So many things to ponder. Will we take this break from “Normal” and step off the treadmill and reconsider our future? Or will we break our necks racing to get back to a system we can now see the flaws in? Maybe the Status Quo isn’t what it used to be.
For me, I like the blue skies, bird songs, and smelling dogs that were out of view. LOL