What Changes?

The kind of conversation right now that bothers me is not where to find toilet paper or how many people managed to escape NYC for the Hamptons, the Catskills, or Florida before the lock-down.

The kind of conversation that bothers me is people speculating how long we’ll be sheltering in place. Assuming that it will be only a month because it feels like it will last a lot longer than that.

A lot of things could change if we are sequestered for longer. Here are some things I wonder about:

  • Starbucks and other fancy coffee shops go away. If we’re away long enough, we’ll break our habits, and not go back.
  • Bidets come back. A friend was telling me last night that he had discovered a bidet that you hook up to your toilet, reducing his usage to a single square per visit. If toilet paper continues to be in sporadic supply, more people will seek similar solutions.
  • Work from home is here to stay. Once organizations recognize how much money they’re saving on real estate and office perks, and have figured out the bugs of being productive, they’ll embrace it whole-heartedly, and we’ll all be working from home.
  • Mass shootings become a higher risk. Among the things that frightened people are hoarding are guns and ammunition. Combine the increased availability of firearms with a lingering irrational fear of crowded places like schools and movie theatres, and you have a recipe for disaster.
  • Fashion diminishes. With so many people working from home, the clothes we wear to impress each other will become less important. And with money tighter from the economic woes, we’ll all be looking for ways to save money and fashion, and nail salons, and blow-out salons will all diminish.
  • The end of 24-hours news. Already we’re feeling overwhelmed by the news and the counter-news. And the mission of 24-hour news – to take what little there is and spin it into more through repetition and opinion – will grate on us the longer this goes on and will finally break our addiction to it.
  • New ways to hold professional meetings online. Small company meetings are working but we need a solution for the association meetings and conferences that we used to have in person. It seems unlikely we will all want to gather in large groups and travel to these things.
  • Movie theaters become an anachronism. With movies streaming, and movie theaters closing, they may never reopen.
  • A renewed appreciation for the work of teachers and child care workers, nurses and health-care workers, truck drivers and grocery store clerks, for farm workers, and for people who do all the things we never think about.
  • And maybe, just maybe, when people see the impact that human quarantine has on improving the environment – the clarity of the Venetian canals and the skies over China — people will finally see climate change as something, not hopeless, but that we can control. Inspired, we will strengthen our resolve and finally take action.

What else do you see?

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