There is No Normal To Go Back To

Watching COVID unfold first hand has given me some perspective on where things are heading and what might be different going forward. There's a few recurring thoughts that are going through my mind a lot lately.

There’s not really going to be a normal to go back to after this is over. Our world is changed permanently. I don't mean it dramatically. There are good and bad things that come along with it. Change is inevitable and it's good to be proactive. Here’s a few that I’ve been considering:

  • Having a conventional job and employer is a lot riskier than everyone thinks. You’re basically a one-person business with a single customer who can drop you any time they want. A “stable” job doesn’t really exist anymore. In your typical 9 to 5, you are a replaceable resource with no upside beyond your fixed salary. Despite being the norm, it's a big bet to make.
  • Conventional education doesn’t really seem to have the same value proposition that it once did. Parents are paying tens of thousands of dollars to watch their kids sit at home and watch video lectures with similar or worse quality to the free ones online. Being able to self-teach is one of the most important skills in 2020. Credentials mean less and less these days. Experience and a solid track record are much more relevant. Education is being effectively commoditized.
  • Remote-first is the way of the future. If you’re not online in 2020, you unfortunately don’t exist. Remote conferences, meetups, dating, etc are all successfully happening right now. Systems that used to be considered “too important to happen online” have had to adapt quickly. It turns out most things can be done remotely. Time and cost savings are a happy benefit of remote-first life.
  • De-urbanization is becoming more popular. People flocking to urban centers has been the dominant trend for the last few decades at least. Conversely, the worst place to be now is a small space in a big city centre - coincidentally the most in demand real estate previously. Small to medium sized communities look much more appealing going forward. If remote work is now broadly possible - why not move away from high-cost real estate, pollution, and traffic?
  • Medicine as a business fails in this kind of situation. It doesn’t matter if you can afford the best medical care during a pandemic. When cost is an obstacle to others getting treatment, everyone suffers from the second order impacts. Public health is more about the base level of care than the peak. The floor, not the ceiling is what makes the difference.
  • COVID is being used as an unquestionable justification for wide-sweeping privacy access by governments across the world. Without realizing it, we’re losing significant ground in the fight for personal data privacy. This is an issue where there is no going back. Once governments gain that kind of power, they will never willingly give it up.
  • The dominance and influence of big technology companies has never been so obvious. It is faster and cheaper to get everything you need through Amazon than anywhere else. Most of the world is watching the same Netflix shows on the same Apple/Microsoft operating systems. These companies are so large and powerful now that they are basically small governments of their own.
  • Countries are becoming self-sufficient again. There’s now pressure on businesses to weigh the costs and benefits of a global supply chain against domestic options.

There’s a million other impacts that COVID is and will have on our lives. Way more than I could have listed here. Being aware and starting to think about them hopefully will give us some foresight on the right moves to make going forward.

Do you disagree with any above? Am I ignoring important any important ones? I'd love to know your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, stay tuned.

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