Thursday, April 2, 2020

What Might the "New Normal" Look Like?

The extreme measures taken currently cannot last much longer. We won't be told to "stay at home", under penalty of arrest.

But, I think it's pretty obvious that daily life will not be the same as what preceded it. In what ways might that change?

  1. Social life will be in smaller groups - MUCH smaller. Gatherings, even in families, may be limited to once a year or so face-to-face. Think of an annual summer reunion, taking place after the infectious season is over (assuming that WuFlu follows a typical seasonal cycle).
  2. Video interactions will become the norm. That will end up being the way for friends to meet up and socialize, most office jobs to be handled (perhaps with periodic trips to the headquarters for necessary in-person work), and relatives not in household to see each other. In-person visits will be rare treats, and social pressure will force those sick or just a little under the weather to bow out. Large gatherings will NOT happen.
  3. Zoom, and other teleconferencing platforms, will take off. The demand will continue even after more or less normal life returns.
  4. Expect a huge drive to bring out the first affordable hologram/3-D video machines. The market pressure will be huge, and the first companies to perfect it will likely make a bundle.
  5. Off-shoring work and manufacture of vital products is OVER. The vulnerability of America to often-hostile foreign countries is now clear. American workers may well become more affordable, because they will not be traveling, buying much of a work wardrobe, or eating meals out. Families won't need that second car. And, they are less likely than foreigners to be pressured by their governments to take proprietary secrets or spy.
  6. Work - HR departments may be GONE (Please, God! This is one that I would consider a True Miracle!). Why do you need them, just to administer benefits? If people aren't interacting, there will be less argument to keep them. Outsource payroll and benefits. Dump the overpaid nags.
  7. For those in the restaurant industry, the good times are gone. Many restaurants will not survive. The industry as a whole has been on shaky ground for a long time. The pressure by activists for higher wages, along with the always-present likelihood of failure - estimates are often wildly overstated, but around 20% fail in the first year, and it's an expensive proposition to start one - make it reasonable that perhaps 1/2 of all restaurants will go under in the next year. Those who have made their living in the industry - particularly the servers, cooks, and cleanup crews - will need to find other work.
  8. Those who have come to this country without permission and worked at seasonal/marginal jobs, will find less work. Most will self-deport, as they find their former employment is no longer available.
  9. Younger people have a new appreciation of those workers who were in demand during this time - the truckers, grocery workers, nurses and medical staff, and first responders. Expect kids to pay attention to the lessons, and re-calibrate their career goals towards indispensability. The construction and repair trades will benefit from the change, too.
  10. The news media (legacy version) is dead, dead, dead. Even with COVID-19 "news" updates 24/7 (with the little scrolled updates showing below the programs) hasn't saved them. People are highly suspicious of the Official Media, and more inclined to pay attention to the Dissident Media. Many blog sites are moving to a partly paid model (some free content, but other posts for paying customers). That trend may grow, but, whether it does or not, the Legacy Media is NOT considered reliable anymore.
  11. People are re-discovering hobbies - crafts, music, old time puzzles and games, cooking, gardening, and home improvement/repair. The stories that they are sharing on Facebook are less frenzied and more relaxed. They are proud of their fledging efforts, and eager to post them.
  12. Sports are NOT going to survive, in the manner that they have been played/compensated. Mega-million contracts WILL be broken/re-negotiated, seasons will shrink, and schools, to the extent that their programs survive, will downsize them considerably. The money for the programs will simply not be there. The insurance cost for players in fall/winter sports will be prohibitive. Non-contact sports - skiing, bowling, archery, shooting, and track - will replace them, as much as survives the shake-out.
  13. School will change. The comprehensive school, with its periodic sweep of infections, may disappear. Many parents, having seen that they can function as teacher, will opt out of a return to the Old Normal. Many kids in middle schools, not eager to return to bullying and social isolation in the school context, will convince their parents to let them continue with home education. The smart players will jump into this new model, and provide high quality alternative education. Those with certifications/qualifications in math/science/special education may find they can't afford to return to the old way.
  14. The introverts will, if not take over, certainly be seen to be more mainstream. Some of the more exuberant extroverts may die out. Being a "party girl" or "the guy everyone knows" may become social deficits. Woman may gain a new appreciation of the guy who is ill at ease in crowds, but can function when confined to small quarters for extended periods of time. The guy who is both a pleasure to be around when home AND a handy guy with repairs? Winnah.
  15. Without the wild party atmosphere of evening venues - clubs, restaurants/bars, sports events - the "Fast Times" girls/guys will be done. Likely for good, but, at least, for a long time. On Tinder, "Likes a quiet evening at home" will look like a good bet, and "Enjoys cooking, card games, and reading" will be the New Hottie.


Jess said...

I can't add, but hope your list is what the future brings. Our society has been on a binge for too long, and it's time what's really important is realized.

Dickw said...

Opera, theatre and ballet?

Ann K. said...

Great list! I would add that the focus on minimalism/decluttering will accelerate and become permanent, killing the fast fashion industry. Who needs 25 pairs of shoes when you rarely leave the house?

Paul Bonneau said...

There's a fair amount of wishful thinking in your list - the scourge of HR departments will not leave us - but I might add that more people will go armed, and depend less on cops. Neighborhood watch will become more important (I'm seeing it now with websites like And I expect homeschooling to take off.

Francis W. Porretto said...

The attractiveness of cities --especially cities built on the "vertical" model, such as New York -- will be greatly diminished. We may see a substantial outflow of urban populations, with consequent pressure on suburban and exurban areas and the costs of living therein

Drake's Place said...

That is a great list, Linda. I can't think of anything to add to it. Wonderful!
HR = unofficially now known as "The Pronoun Police."

Dave Drake


I do expect a LOT more interest in people having 2-3 weeks of food on hand.

Live Free or Die said...

On Sefton's list to re-start the economy, add "Stop collection of all Government property taxes and sales taxes".

Make our governments (Fed, State, and Local) FEEL our pain of being told we can't work.

Might incentivize them to get us back to work sooner.

Linda Fox said...

Some great comments here.

Yes, I do think that any reduction in economic activity should be accompanied by an equal reduction in the percentage of taxes collected.

I think that many of those in HR are going to feel some pressure to retire early, God willing - at least the Baby Boomers. The best solution for most companies is: outsourcing of payroll and benefits, and contracting for any other service (you can get rid of complainers and edifice-builders).