Life after the apocalypse is a bit less wild than the movies Mad Max or the Book of Eli would have us to believe. At least, that appears to be our situation as we increasingly move into a “post COVID” world. But with that said, we’ve definitely seen our share of challenges, and the events that have unfolded in the past year will definitely be something we continue to deal with for years to come.
In today’s podcast, I talk about life after the mini-apocalypse we’ve had the past year. I look at the good and the bad, and several areas in which our society has definitely shifted. And while things in some sense might be getting back to “normal,” there are definitely some new trends to observe that mark a break with the past.
The Issue Of Collective Trauma
In a podcast I listened to recently “Matt and Kevin Talk Church,” they made a great point about how we simply can’t put the proverbial Genie back in the bottle. While there is a sense in which we’ll return to “life as normal,” the truth of the matter is in this past year we’ve experienced a collective global and national trauma. And as much as we might want to just pretend the past year didn’t happen, the truth is, it did happen, and we’ll deal with the fallout of the past year for years to come.
And that assumes things with COVID continue to get better. While things in America are largely getting better as people continue to get vaccinated, there are concerns not enough people will get vaccinated to create “herd immunity.” There’s also the problem that other nations are having difficulties with their vaccine rollouts, and places like India are seeing dramatic spikes in COVID cases and deaths. This could have a precarious ripple effect, and we don’t know quite how that will play out on a global scale.
So while there is much reason to be optimistic about the future, especially in America, about life post apocalypse, we still need to be cautiously optimistic about how things will ultimately play out. But assuming they play out well, there are some areas our culture has experienced meaningful change.
Changes In Work
Work will be different. In spite of individuals like J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Daimon insisting people need to go back into the office, there’s going to remain a larger segment of the population that permanently works from home. And that’s simply going to be the free market forces at work that drive that change. Especially as remote jobs will allow corporations to recruit talent from all over the country, whereas before they were limited to recruiting talent from certain geographical hubs. “Boomers” like Jamie Daimon might lust after butts in seats, and seats in buildings with his name on them. But the truth is, for all the benefits of in-person work, there’s still going to be a lot of jobs that are most effectively done by remote workers, and people who insist on working remotely.
Changes In Education
School will be different. While a lot of kids will go back to school next Fall for in person learning, there’s a growing number of people who are wanting a permanent “remote academy” all over the country. The reasons for this are diverse, but the truth of the matter is, there are simply a number of students for whom earning their education online and from home is simply the best thing for them.
Changes In Church
The life of the church has been impacted. Crowds will be thinner. A lot of people realized they didn’t really need or want the church in their lives, as the church proved to be something other than what many people thought it was. Online attendance may swell as people become much more casual in their attendance. But even with that, a lot of people aren’t exactly rushing back to church. This past year has been a real time of testing for congregational life, as people have had strong reactions towards the church as pastors handled COVID-19, racial issues, and fallouts from the election. Many people simply aren’t happy with how their church responded to these issues, and these issues have proven to be divisive for many congregations. Many people are not only disappointed in how the church responded to all these issues, but many feel the church completely failed them.
Changes In Politics
The world of politics has increasingly crept into our lives, and the cult of personality and culture war issues has come to dominate the political arena. Politics is less about ideology and policy making, and more about one’s identity with a certain political party or hero. And as a result, we can expect these issues to continue to remain in the forefront of voters minds. Meanwhile, politicians in both the Republican and Democratic parties plan on spending us into oblivion. Fiscal conservatism is dead, and there’s no sense in which anyone in either party is interested in balancing a budget. People may still he-and-haw over the numbers. But at the end of the day, both parties are interested in spending money they don’t have. The only question is how much will we spend, and on what. But both sides of the political divide are committed to spending as much as they possibly can, without restraint.
Changes In Eating
We are going to eat out a ton. A lot of restaurants failed in the past year, unable to adapt to the new environment. But the one’s that did adapt will likely find themselves busier than ever. Over the past year a lot of people cooked from home. Some even watched the cooking videos my wife and I make on YouTube. They tried doing things like making bread, and even created a national yeast shortage in the process. But at the end of it all, people realize how much they dislike eating at home, at how much they like eating out instead. But that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone’s going to be sitting down to eat in restaurants. Just about everyone learned how to use DoorDash or Uber Eats this past year. And this revolutionized not only the restaurant industry, but it will revolutionize our eating habits for a long time. to come.
Changes In Personal Relationships
Personal relationships have changed. The past year caused some serious fractures among folks friends and families. I personally lost some long time friends, and I know others who have as well. We experienced a tremendous social upheaval that I don’t think we’ve quite soaked fully in yet. I think there’s a lot of hurt there, and a lot that makes us skittish about being around other people. And because of all the streaming entertainment platforms out there, because more people are working from home, because people aren’t going to church, and because we have more options when it comes to food delivery, I think our fragmentized society will leave a lot of people increasingly isolated from people they used to associate with. People are going to be increasingly lonely, and find it increasingly difficult to make new social circles.