We can take a little comfort in knowing that in spite of all the despair, there is some good coming out from this pandemic. Here are my top 10…
- Climate. Pollution is way down because of travel restrictions. Hopefully, this will continue as people make important behavioral changes (read my recent article on this topic). The only thing worse than a pandemic is probably a permanent climate shift! Maybe this pandemic is a big wake up call to take better care of our planet, before it is too late. You may want to research how human behaviors are actually making it more likely for deadly viruses to infect people.
- People. People who were once marginalized have demonstrated they are the glue that is keeping the world together. We are realizing just how important “front line” workers are like health care, truckers, grocers and janitors are. Even channel partners are getting some recognition as they keep IT infrastructures up and running. Hopefully, we will treat all of these people with more respect and pay them what they are really worth.
- Goodwill. Citizens are stepping up everywhere to help each other. Some people do things like buying food or medicine for others. Others are helping people cope with depression and other mental issues. Some are making PPE products. Another good example is to see teenagers stepping up to fill the shortage of thousands of senior care workers to care for our elderly. If anyone believes that the younger generation does not care about anything, they should take note!
- Senior Citizens. The truth about how the system treats our elderly has been uncovered. So many horrific stories have surfaced. Seems like many people have been talking about this problem for years. Governments and those running these facilities already know what needs to be fixed. In real-time and publicly, they are seeing the outcome of ignoring this problem for years. Now is time for them to do their jobs and fix it once and for all.
- Domestic abuse. As people are locked down in their homes, it seems that the conditions are ripe for abuse. In some regions police are actually calling every home to investigate if abuse is happening. I assume that they are closely monitoring the known culprits. In today’s world of social networking, these bad people can be identified and held accountable. If there was ever an appropriate time for neighbors to squeal on their neighbors, then this is it!
- Children. Improving education is another big problem that could be solved with more online interactive learning (okay naysayers, it is not the same as in-person learning, but it is at least a good alternative). Solving the problem of getting each student a proper device and Internet access is the easier problem to solve. Getting the teachers trained with effective content online is the hard work. The framework for doing all this work is already known by experts who have been doing this for years, so just ask them. Another problem is children are still going hungry because their school is closed and so they cannot get any meals. Special thanks to one school cafeteria lady in Texas who is continuing to prepare and distribute thousands of meals to students. Just fixing these two problems can be a giant leap forward for the younger generation and our planet!
- Homeless people. The bottom of the human food chain has mostly been ignored and marginalized by most Governments. So much talk talk talk about this for years and still no change! Now we are putting homeless people into hotels so they have a place for social distancing from the virus. What if you got them self-sufficient tiny homes like some amazing people are already doing in California so they can all live in dignity and safety? I do not know much about the homeless, but I see many experts who seem to understand and know exactly what to do to fix the problem. Why not just let them fix it?
- Working from home. More people are already questioning why always meet in-person to get things done. Much of the work can be done with an e-mail or video conference. Video communications has been around for a long time but this pandemic has forced the mass shift. If the current exponential growth of video conferencing platforms is any indication, people are liking it a lot! Imagine what this pandemic would have been without this technology? Keeping people connected is one obvious big value, but did you know that most of the medical interactions between doctors and people have been happening through video conferencing. If you cannot meet a doctor in person, video is the next best thing. Expect to see the normalization of remote health management especially as doctors get paid for video visits. What a cost-effective way of delivering better health care to everyone!
- Mental health, family and friends. The long lock-down has shown just how important our friends and family are to mental health. People need to connect with each other emotionally and physically. Loneliness is a real thing and isolation amplifies that, especially in seniors. Maybe this is one of the most important lessons we have learned during this crisis. Beyond economics, it is probably one of the biggest drivers pushing people to get back to work sooner rather than later. People are prepared to risk health than stay isolated! Keep on reaching out to people you know, even it is just to say hi! And, as you have heard a million times already, keep up your social distancing expecially as things reopen! Failure to do so may result in a 10X price to pay than the first shut-down!
- Mindless globalization. We have now seen first hand the risks of outsourcing everything. It seems like we will reverting to producing local to ensure the population is better protected in the future (especially on the health front). While globalization has been the catalysis for driving economic growth, it has vastly benefited very few of the super rich. It is obvious that a better balance needs to be reached but the people making the decisions are the same people working for the super rich. Governments are pouring massive amounts of money into the pockets of people as a results of the economic shutdown. Where will all that money come from? Start by following the big money gamers and tax them to play! Many corporations have fortunately stepped up to put money back into the pockets of people and hopefully more will not siphon government assistance away from those who really needs it.
I am no expert in any of this so read it for what it’s worth – an informed opinion.
I have been lucky to have had a front row seat in the technology space so I saw first-hand how tech has impacted businesses and people. I remember when I first printed an e-mail address on my business card and had to explain to people what it was. Digitization of everything is now on hyper speed and who knows where that will lead. Technology has come a long way and has brought a lot of good and bad to the world. As with anything, there will be those who use technology for bad and those who use it for good. I think that this pandemic has clearly demonstrated the good side of technology!
That said, it is up to us to shape the future with a shared evolution of society so good wins over bad. AI is scary, but it is being used to develop vaccines and therapies for illnesses faster than ever. Apps can be deceiving but it can help to track and identify COVID-19 infection risks and help to mediate the spread in real-time. Social network can be the bloodsuckers of our personal information, but it can help us to stay connected.
It’s a work in progress, but the “new normal” future has already started on a very fast track. As the economy reopens more widely, we will be thinking and doing most everything differently. It can be scary or it can also be a pivotal time to make real change that matters to people and the future of this planet!