Right now, large portions of the world are hunkered down under quarantine, determined to survive the global pandemic. These are dark times, and the economy will likely take years to recover. However, I believe we could see quite a few positives come in the aftermath of the Coronapocalypse, including:
There have been a great number of heavy-handed and tyrannical orders enacted by governments around the world in response to the pandemic. It hasn't been all bad, however. At least in the US, many restrictions and regulations have been either temporarily lifted or are being considered for removal. New Hampshire implementedremote instruction for public schools, temporarily deferred vehicle license and registration renewals, and lifted the restriction on alcohol for takeout orders from restaurants and bars. Ohio temporarily eased in-state nursing license requirements. Up for discussion are even more anti-competitive regulations which have caused hospital bed shortages.
Now, I don't for a second believe that governments will collectively see the error of their previous ways and simply maintain their deregulation measures after the crisis is over. But I am saying that the people will get used to this freedom, and make a very strong case for permanent lifting restrictions in the future, especially concerning the more ridiculous aspects such as the ban on alcohol for takeout.
Let's face it: in our increasingly interconnected and digital world, the old-school cubicle office hasn't been relevant for quite some time. Still, so many workplaces continue to force their weary employees to commute many miles and wear uncomfortable clothes to be cooped up in a dimly-lit carpeted environment together. While remote working options such as working from home, a coffee shop, or coworking venue have certainly been on the rise, many businesses still hold on to the old model through inertia. Mandatory telecommuting has forced lagging elements of the industry to adapt, and once workers taste the sweet, sweet freedom of being able to clock in from wherever they so choose, they won't likely be giving it back.
Think of the savings in time, money, space, and overall efficiency that a global "ditch the office" revolution would provide. Coworking spaces can support far more workers than traditional offices since not all of them need to be there at all times, and many companies can use the same space, cutting costs and freeing up prime real estate for uses other than soulless and ugly offices. Removing the mandatory commute at preset times cuts down on transportation costs for workers and reduces traffic congestion, naturally including accidents and deaths. Imagine such a world.
Many businesses are suffering right now because of the physical limitations of present conditions. Those that survive will do so because they have adapted. Every restaurant will now have delivery options and be included in all the requisite apps and services. Cash-only businesses will be forced to adopt streamlined online payments. Gone are the days where you can simply run a business with no online presence and antiquated payments technology. I already wrote about how this quarantine crash would affect the cryptocurrency industry and its development into a broadly-used and effective payments technology, and I can bet other sectors will be catching up as well.
Yes, this does mean that some businesses are going to be unable to compete and go away, and with them all the nostalgia of times past. That old corner café that has been around for the better part of a century, that only takes cash and doesn't do delivery, may end up closing. Such is life.
Governments around the world have had varying responses to the outbreak of coronavirus, from pure denial to complete martial law. The media has whipped the world into a panicked frenzy. Thanks to the information age, the negative effects of these have been amplified on the global populace. So far. However, the free spread of information will quickly turn to indicting current regimes for their failure to act effectively to combat the virus, as well as the chaos and damage their response measures have caused. The same goes for the media, whose sensationalizing coverage can be contrasted with personal accounts directly from the source. I believe we will see a global erosion of trust in both institutions.
Especially the government-imposed measures will have an impact. Millions globally have been imprisoned in their own homes, or had their livelihoods destroyed, by threat of violence, not as a direct result of the virus. In some of the more widely-affected communities this may be seen as a necessary evil, but I guarantee that countless employees and business owners will be incredibly bitter at government for crushing everything they worked for over years, even decades, on a whim.
I'm predicting people will become more social, and more socially-fulfilled, as an after-effect of the global pandemic and quarantine. First, solidarity and cooperation as the whole planet now has one significant aspect of their lives in common. Second, social isolation (scarcity) will at least temporarily drive up the value (price) people are willing to ascribe to human contact. And finally, an increasingly remote workforce and online delivery-based shoppers means that less of our capacity for human interaction will be used up dealing with mundane or unpleasant tasks, freeing up social energy for better purposes. Instead of working in a cubicle all day surrounded by unlucky compatriots and going straight home to decompress and avoid people, we may work in relative isolation and seek the company of others in off-time. Instead of hating people after a day of fighting the hordes to shop for groceries, we may order all essentials online and spend a relaxing afternoon shopping at a local farmer's market. Instead of resenting our fellow humans for the friction they case us in our day-to-day lives, we may shift almost entirely to cherishing their company. None of this is guaranteed, of course, but I remain hopeful.
The world may be going through a tough time right now. But in a few years, we may be looking at a brighter future than we've seen before. Stay focused.
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