Post COVID-19 and the “New Normal”

3 min read.

I’ve previously written about some of the second-order effects of COVID-19 and what some of the changes might be.
And whilst I believe them, especially the short term ones, I’m more sceptical about the long term changes related to COVID-19.

Important to note about this post, it refers to the vast majority of people.  And is just my opinion.

You might love video calls. You might love social distancing. You may love working from home. And that’s cool.
But I believe that people will return to old routines. People are creatures of habit. There’ll be no massive fundamental changes in human behaviour.

Changes on the micro-level? Yes, tonnes of variability and change. But on the macro level, it will be fairly consistent with how life was pre-pandemic. 

In a few years from now, we’ll be living how we were 6 months ago. We won’t forget. We’ll maybe have new options for how we want to live and work. But overall actions and life will stay fairly constant as to how they were before.

Mean Reversion 

Things might be different for a while. But probably not forever.

People said after 9/11 that people would never fly again. Today, people fly more than ever.
In 2000, total passengers carried was 1.67 billion. It would decline over the following two years to 1.65 billion then 1.62 billion.
But by 2018, passengers carried 4.2 billion!

People just sort of move on. They choose to live their lives with limited constraints.

9/11 introduced new safety measures. And I’m sure COVID will cause some too.
But in terms of fundamentally changing people’s actions? I’m sceptical. I mean maybe sure. I’m not gonna rule it out. But my money on things going back to relative normal across the board. Sure in pockets of society and business there will be big structural and fundamental changes. But overall, life will continue chugging along.

Airlines will continue to charge for less seat space. Gyms at knock-off time will be mayhem again. Music festivals will be a sea of people again.

My thoughts? I miss the gym like mad. I’ll be back the first day it opens. For both physical and mental health benefits.

I miss hanging out. I’m not the most social creature on earth but even I’m fanging for a beer at the local.

I miss travelling. Experiencing new cultures, meeting new people and exploring strange places. And I’m sure many others feel the same way.

So when this all blows over and the rewards outweigh the risks, I think people (again, in general) will return in numbers to pre-COVID activities. 

Humans are Social 

Are video calls really a substitute for socialising? I can’t think of anything worse. I’d rather not video call at all than have an online social event that could easily be done in person. It’s just so, lifeless? During COVID-19 I completely understand them. But afterwards, when socialising is permitted again, I doubt many will continue to do so.

I game online with mates and have voice chat. But that’s a secondary to playing the game itself. I don’t go online and just straight up talk to them. I’d 110% rather do it in person over a beer.

I miss going to the pub with mates. Miss talking absolute trash about god knows what. Video calls don’t even come close to scratching that itch.

Adding Options

What I’m willing to bet will happen though, is increased options. The option to study online. The option to work from home. The option to avoid human contact.

The predicted decline in business travel is a big one. And it may come true. What may be the case though is there’s now a more socially acceptable option to meet over video call.

How often has something ‘revolutionised’ education? First, the radio would change how courses were taught. Then it was Television. Then the internet. The internet probably changed education the most. But how much has it really affected physical attendance education?
It’s added to it and gave students greater options to study. But internal students still vastly outweigh external and online ones.

People come back to what’s familiar and what is the most social.

Conclusion

Overall, I think people want to return to their lives. Do the things they’ve always loved doing.

Some people will break off and swear by their new way of life. And that’s ok, I’m not bagging that. But I’m resistant to thinking that the whole world will have turned on its head and COVID created ‘the new normal’.

Human nature never really changes. 

We adapt. But we don’t truly change.

“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ”

Aristotle

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