Better World

By Jo Phillips

Pixabay

It arrived into our lives suddenly, and few knew at the time quite how much impact it would have on the world. When you first heard the terms “coronavirus” and “Covid-19” back at the start of 2020, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was yet another temporary global problem that would soon be eradicated. Most people didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about it, treating it as an abstract issue which, while undoubtedly serious, was not of direct concern to them. 

Yet fast forward eight months later to the present day, and there is not a single person on the planet whose life has been untouched by this deadly virus. Lives have been lost, businesses have closed down, and education is at risk. The way we live our lives is entirely different. We wear masks to go shopping, work from home where possible, and avoid close contact with strangers at all times.

Our daily lives are all very much up in the air, and still, no one is certain what the future may hold. Where will we be in six months, or a year from now? It’s hard to tell. Developments like vaccines or improved medical treatment will undoubtedly change the course of the future, but there is no clear roadmap for moving on from the pandemic.

It has become apparent that we cannot merely wait for the virus to peter out to continue as we were. Our lives must go on in the face of the disease, and we have to embrace this new normal. And from the way we have begun to adjust our lifestyles around the outbreak, we can start to make predictions for how a post-Covid world may look.

Personal relationships

The pandemic has affected us all, as things we once took for granted were suddenly denied us. Seeing our loved ones, going for a quiet drink with a partner and the freedom to spend time apart from those we live with. Lockdowns have made us feel lonely and isolated and sparked conflicts between families stuck indoors under the same roof. We can see how this has taken its toll in countries like China, where divorce rates spiked in March, as well as the rise in demand for mental health services. The virus has presented couples and families with a whole new range of problems to navigate, many of which have life or death consequences, so it’s no surprise that relationships have suffered.

Yet while many challenges have arisen from these global changes, there are many positives to take from the pandemic. With the help of the Internet and social media, people have found new ways to connect with each other despite being physically separated. We’ve seen people pool together to raise money for healthcare services by walking or running marathons in their back gardens, and selfless volunteers stepping up to bring food and supplies to the vulnerable. We cannot underestimate the power of the Internet to bring people together, even though it may have taken a pandemic for people to realise it.

We’ve all faced lockdown boredom and had to find new ways of keeping ourselves busy while stuck at home. How do you fill your days when you can no longer see your friends, go shopping or explore new places? People have turned their hands to such pastimes as baking bread, gardening, DIY and arts and crafts. Whole swathes of the population have tapped into their creative sides and discovered new talents, and the results may manifest themselves in a “lockdown era” of culture.

The workplace

Well before the coronavirus lockdowns began, the traditional office was on a trajectory of change. The workplace was gradually moving away from the nine-to-five structure towards something a lot more modern. Remote working, hot-desking and flexible hours have been a lot more common over recent years. But the pandemic may be the catalyst needed to spark this change into action. People all across the globe were forced to work from home for several months, giving us a taste of what it would be like to have a truly flexible global working culture.

There was no rush-hour traffic, and train carriages were empty. Workers had more free time to spend on their family and their hobbies. You could work according to your own schedule and not have to engage in office politics. Many companies have seen that it’s perfectly possible to conduct business as usual with a remote workforce. Collaboration technology such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams makes it simple to communicate with colleagues and share ideas across a digital workspace. Although several lockdowns have been released, some businesses are continuing to embrace this way of working. This may be the beginning of the end for the traditional office.

The entertainment industry

The entertainment industry has taken an enormous hit from the coronavirus pandemic. Cinemas and theatres have shut down, huge blockbuster releases have been delayed time and time again, and millions of jobs worldwide are at risk. While many industries have been able to revert to some semblance of normality, entertainment was one of the first to go and may be the last to return. But although artists, creative types and hospitality workers are suffering, art itself will never be at risk. Culture and the ability to create beautiful things is what makes us human and separates us from the animals. Not even a global pandemic can stop humankind’s natural instinct to entertain and inspire. We’ve seen films and television programmes shot remotely in lockdown, socially distanced concerts, football and NFL games held behind doors to empty stadiums. The way we both create and consume our entertainment has changed, and we will have to get used to new ways of experiencing culture in the future.

Planet Earth

With coronavirus looming in our collective imaginations, it’s easy to forget about the other global disaster hanging over our heads. Climate change. It’s an issue that our planet has faced for several decades but still presents major challenges for future generations. But how has coronavirus affected our attempts to save us from global warming and preserve Planet Earth for future generations? 

One of the most uplifting results of the many national lockdowns across the globe earlier in the year was the positive impact on nature. Polluted city skies in China once again showed stars, murky canals in Venice became clear, and wild deer returned to the empty streets of London. Packed streets were emptied of cars and international flights cancelled. People stuck at home took to exercise, sparking a huge surge in bicycle sales and other green modes of travel. The pandemic offered us a glimpse of what is possible for our planet if we only were prepared to take bolder environmental steps. But as life slowly returns to normal, it’s inevitable that these changes will only be fleeting and the planet will continue to head ever closer to environmental collapse. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

Governments have acted decisively to implement lockdown and strict social distancing measures, working in ways unheard of in peacetime. Yet if heads of state could muster up the same power to direct our planet towards a greener future and implement stricter environmental regulations, perhaps we’d see an effective response to the dangers of climate change. Can the lessons learned from the coronavirus outbreak save the future of our planet?

No one can say with one hundred percent certainty what the future holds, but we can’t deny that coronavirus will go down in history as one of the biggest paradigm shifts the world has ever seen. For better or for worse, life as we know it will never look the same again.