This post is very different from what I normally post on my travel blog The Boutique Adventurer. I saw a video made by Italians of what they wish they had of known ten 10 days ago. It made me think about what the world might look like when this pandemic is over.
I am by nature an optimistic, but I would also like to think that I am quite pragmatic. And that after a successful 20+ years career in marketing I can be quite good at envisioning a future world. So I thought I would travel to the future in this post.
March 23, 2022
Two years ago today Londoners woke up to a much quieter capital. All bars, restaurants, theatres, gyms had been shut. People were scared. People were sick. We were all living on tenterhooks.
Although I still remember that day so very clearly thank goodness it now feels a world away. But the two year anniversary of London’s shut down has made me stop and think about some of the ways that Covid 19 changed the world for the better:
1. Social media became a force for good. After years of fear and online bullying and many concerned that social media would bring down our society, it became the glue that kept us all together. Platforms like zoom, skype, whats app became the new town squares in a society that could no longer leave the house.
2. In the early days of the crisis, fake news continued to be an issue as some tried to take advantage of the difficult times to fan waves of racism and hatred. Mark Zuckerberg stepped up and announced that Facebook and Instagram would now take responsibility for the content of the ads on its platforms (as tv stations, newspapers and magazines had always had to do) and would only allow fully validated advertisers – and fully validated advertising messaging – to appear on its platforms. All other online platforms followed suit and fake news is now a dim memory.
3. Journalism and the amazing news organisations that were much maligned in the era of Trump received the recognition they deserved for their ongoing integrity and roles as not only champions of the people but to ensure that communication was based on accurate information and not inflammatory.
The value of online subscriptions for publications like the Times in the UK, FT, New York Times has increased thousands of times over as we have all realised the critical roles that these organisations play in our society. This has also led to increases in pay for journalists and others in this industry.
4. Health systems are now the biggest priority of our society. After the economic recovery, societies voted unanimously to pay increased taxes through businesses and individuals to increase funding levels for health care systems and to assist reforms to allow every person in our societies access.
We realised that our health systems were more important than almost any other institution in society and they now finally have the funding they need to support their communities.
5. Health workers, particularly nurses and support staff, all received major pay increases as well as increased benefits. I wouldn’t be writing this message today if it wasn’t for the incredibly brave people who served on the front line of Covid 19.
Isn’t it wonderful that today our 17-year-olds are now applying for nursing and health support university programmes in greater numbers than any other and we have seen a massive increase in those retraining to join these critical professions?
6. Teachers also received the financial and societal recognition that they had long deserved after nations had to home school their own children! Billions of parents realised the dedication and energy that was required to teach the next generation and again major economic reforms in funding for schools has now meant that becoming a teacher ranks next to health workers as the most attractive careers for those heading to university.
7. The vaccine that allowed us to exit this crisis would never have been developed nor produced with the speed it was without multiple countries and corporations working together with one common goal and no singular financial benefit.
The development of the vaccine was an extraordinary collaborative achievement from China, the UK, France, Australia, The US, Canada – I may well end up listing the majority of countries in the world as scientists worked together tirelessly around the clock to develop a vaccine.
8. The collaborative non-commercial working method used to develop the Covid 19 Vaccine is now being used to develop treatment drugs for cancer, respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular disease, HIV, malaria and so many other diseases. Already, some of the most devastating forms of cancer such as pancreatic are no longer a death sentence.
9. The world realised the importance of its scientists and its research communities in Universities – without question the ground zero of the development of the vaccine for Covid-19. Major investments have been made in scientific research via the world’s leading universities and they now lead all the major global research projects to ensure compliance with the high standards around the equity of the distribution of solutions and the financial benefits.
University lecturers and researchers also received well-deserved pay increases and are now extremely popular career choices for the next generation.
10. We learnt to no longer hate the banks – well the major regulatory changes helped and bankers still earn more on average than most people and tend to be quite smug but they no longer receive mind-blowing bonuses.
Without the hard work put in by financial institutions and the government to keep the economy afloat we would have reached crises brought on by an inability to buy food and the social chaos which may well have erupted.
11. We all remembered that governments can be a force for good. Before Covid 19 so many societies had lost faith in their governments. Australia exited a prime minister what seemed like every 10 minutes, the left and right seemed to have blended into an unsatisfactory midpoint, Brexit had divided the UK for years, Europe and South America had seen a rise in right-wing governments and of course we had Trump.
The large majority of governments across the world moved heaven and earth to throw out the rule book and introduce reforms at a scale and speed never before witnessed outside of wartime. Governments today are still far from perfect but like a family that had fallen out but then realised at the end of the day we are all in this together we have learnt to be kinder to our governments and let them focus on the business of governing.
12. Once borders re-opened and travel bans were lifted we saw an explosion in worldwide travel. However, this was a different kind of travel. Those cities and countries suffering from over-tourism like Venice all instituted new regulations on the amounts of travellers and time spent in those destinations in order to maintain the benefits that were seen during the shutdown.
13. Although divorce rates exploded after social isolation rules were lifted we also saw a huge growth in babies, weddings and the renewal of wedding vows. Additionally, many new relationships developed as people met online during the crisis and got to know each other through conversation before being able to meet in person. Indeed, I met my now-husband this way during the pandemic.
14. Before Covid 19 I knew about 9 of my neighbours well – a high number in London and due to the unique layout of where I live. Today it takes me 20 minutes to walk to my local shops as I am constantly stopping for a chat. Covid 19 brought out the best in our communities as so many people stepped up to help those that needed it who lived in their area.
15. And then, of course, there was the end of the era of Trump. About 12 months before Covid 19 broke out I had visited Philadelphia in my job as a travel blogger. I was genuinely moved by what I found out about the wonderful principles of freedom and liberty that had founded the United States of America. The people that led to the development of what was then a completely new kind of society and their values touched me.
But I was also sad as I realised how far the United States of 2020 was from those values. We all remember how Trump reached new levels of quite frankly lunacy after Covid 19 hit the shores of the United States. His inability to take any responsibility for the outbreak or to provide clarity and consistency in his actions finally led the Senate and House of Representatives to make unprecedented moves to not only remove Trump from office but his entire government.
After the special emergency elections were held Joe Biden became the president of the United States and restored the country to its former role as a sound and fair world leader.
16. Biden also used these new times to call for an amnesty on guns and make major changes to the laws around the acquisition of weapons. Yes, the United States still has more gun owners per capita than any other country and the NRA is still a powerful lobbying body but isn’t it wonderful that there have been no school shootings in the USA since Covid 19 broke out?
17. Remember when we all feared immigration and the terrible images of lost lives on beaches around the world? Covid 19 taught all of us what it feels like to be afraid for your life and that of your family’s on an ongoing basis as well as massive economic concerns.
This growth in empathy has led to the development of new attitudes towards immigrants and new laws which have meant an eradication of refugee camps and detention centres across the world.
I would never say that I am glad that Covid 19 happened. So many lives were lost and there was so much fear. But we will never know where our world was heading if Covid 19 hadn’t happened. Looking back I wonder if we were on a path to something potentially far more catastrophic than Covid 19 but we will of course never know.
I don’t have children but I am glad that my fabulous nieces and nephew are old enough that the world’s collective approach to Covid 19 will profoundly affect their values and those of their future children. I am glad that today we live in a kinder and more humane society that has regained its focus on what matters most in lives – our health, our communities, our families and living in an equitable and compassionate society.
If you like this version of the future why not kick it off by joining your local community support group? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-51978388
And please please please please stay at home!!!
Note: As of March 22, 2003 toilet paper prices are still at £10 per roll. However, they have dropped considerably from their pandemics height of £100 per roll.