The world is never going to be the same. I know this for a fact, because my mother just asked me how to use Zoom.￼
But there are other indicators—some good some bad. I’ll start with the bad ones so I can build to the good ones. (I need something to look forward to, even if the horizon is only 300 words from here.￼)
Death toll and economic meltdown aside, here are some bad things I’m seeing as a result of current quarantine-and-physical-distancing protocols:
- Social distancing￼. There’s a fine line between safe and aloof. When you pass someone on the sidewalk and don’t at least acknowledge her with your eyes, you have crossed that line. Be better than that. Look up from your device and smile. Even if you are in your healthy 20s and 30s and find this whole pandemic to be supremely inconvenient, smile at the live human in your six-foot orbit. Being friendly and kind is not dangerous. We’re all in this together.￼
- My hair. I look like Shaun Cassidy, and I’m not planning to get a haircut. Please be nice about it. Again, all in this together.￼ You don’t look so fresh yourself.
Now onto some good things. The marketplace is changing rapidly and radically, and￼ people are responding with exceptionally limber adaptations. The creativity is inspiring.￼
- Restaurants are turning on a dime, pivoting from dining service to delivery.￼ For a list of early adaptors, who quickly made the leap to curbside takeout and delivery to flatten the curve, visit The Wills Company blog.
- Among the most interesting pivots to land in my inbox, Peninsula restaurant in Nashville has launched a broth subscription service, through which members can￼ pick up 64 ounces of housemade broth every two weeks.￼
- Corsair Distillery switched from manufacturing gin to making hand sanitizer, called Gintervention, which they are supplying to healthcare providers.￼
- Some veterinarians are offering drive-through service, where you drop off your pet at the curb and wait in the car.￼
- My middle and high school kids will start distance-learning on Wednesday.￼
- My childhood best friends and I had a Google Hangout today. (These are the same beloveds I used to sit on the phone with for hours, playing Hangman with pen and paper, when we had the flu in elementary school, so I guess some things haven’t really changed all that much.)
There’s no telling what the long-term ramifications of so-called plague living will be on everything from mental health to healthcare regulation.￼ I suspect a generation of economics students, in the footsteps of Freakonomics, will consider Spring 2020 as Time Zero in countless data sets to quantify change in societal behavior as a result of flattening the curve though physical distancing. If I were an economics student writing a thesis five, ten or 20 years from now, ￼I’d be asking all kinds of questions about the paradigm shift of COVID-19. For example:
1. How did college applications at the most expensive colleges change￼￼ after a global test-drive of the online learning model? As one friend said of her child completing spring coursework via the Internet, “I’m now paying Penn tuition for University of Phoenix￼.”
2. Was there a baby boom in the winter/spring of 2020/21, after a March/April of so much state-mandated Netflix-and-chilling￼?
3. Conversely, was there a divorce boom?
4. Did Toto toilets reach a tipping point in the Great Toilet Paper Panic of 2020?
Possible economics thesis topics are endless, and since there’s nothing else to do, I’ll be writing a list. All you future econ majors at University of the Internet can thank me later.
UPDATED 3/26: Will so much use of Zoom and Google Hangouts precipitate a boom of Botox and other self-care procedures for the on-screen close-up￼?