Pandemic has changed our lives
The current and possible future changes in individuals' and families' reactions to, coping mechanisms with, and adaptation of habits due to social isolation, quarantining, and the Covid illness itself continues to be a source of intense analysis by economic advisers, commerce participants, marketers and many other trend watchers across the global spectrum.
Peripherally, the 2020 year may yet go down as one of the most significant challenges in this 100-year cycle. A long-lasting pandemic, millions of people's lives and health threatened, raging life-devastating fires across the globe, hostile climate weather onslaughts, fierce political divisions, violent disagreements in normally civilised societies, and the temporary suppression of interactive, mobility freedoms have had some immediate consequences and may have longer-term changes not yet determined.
No one knows, or can only speculate, where, how and when societies will resume some sort of normalcy, nor how it will be defined on a longer-term basis. What this new normal will be, what patterned changes shake out eventually — all — will have enormous significant economic and financial affects.
Is it temporary and we'll go back to our old habits, or, will this time in our lives become a marker of before — and after Covid-19, much like the still vivid memories of 9/11, now 20 years on?
Quarantining, and its twin social distancing, has brought many old and new impactful trends in living:
• Changes in personal habits: eating, buying, selling, hoarding, overcompensating, remote connecting, mental stamina boredom alternating with busyness, despair hand in hand with euphoria, traditional relationships breaking down — new attitudes and new relationships forming, changes almost endless
• Lifestyles were reduced to simplicity in thought and action, something one could control internally because of so much uncontrollable stress externally
• Dress-up clothes have decreased in necessity, dramatically lowering cost of being professional, while online interest in athletic casual increased
• Hirsute shagginess is in, along with “naturally healthy” appearances, although, there is still a preponderance of individuals in commercial social media who have so altered their physicality that they more resemble their photo-shopped memes than real-live people
• Online shopping rules the internet sphere
• internet bandwidth demands rising astronomically
• Education became innovative and frustrating challenges for parents' home schooling children
• Social interactions ever evolving as new connectivity applications hit the marketplace
• Utilisation of smart devices is more important than ever, those without affordable access or no penchant for “learning those newfangled things” as my granny used to say, were basically cut off from people, communication, and community
• Similarly, the plethora of online games and gaming reduced outside social communication, not as desirable an outcome
• Mobility transport reverse-mirrored: running, walking, riding a bike, a bus, life in a slower lane has trended again — a classic example, the rise of Peloton stock valuation — due to home-constrained athletes and stressed workers of all genres
• Health concerns, adequate health insurance and new awareness of what healthy actually means has also become a trend. Target statements from health professionals identified the high-risk health groups: diabetes, heart conditions, lung impairment. Good health practices can greatly mitigate higher exposure to illnesses
• Elevation of neatness, and organisational skills. Living in cluttered confined spaces constrains the mind, and depresses attitudes. Marie Kondo's revolutionary book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, with more than 22,000 reviews on Amazon, is still going strong and more prescient than ever.
• Finance media across the North Atlantic pond neighbours report multiple statistics of regret that “not enough was saved for emergencies, should have realised what contingency planning really meant, and lots of hindsight hand-wringing, would have, could have, should have
• However, positively and reactively, families are saving more, patterns that are trending. For years, we financial planners blathered on about contingency cash — three to six months. Currently, I would adjust that number higher, to one year or more of emergency cash
For some people, there was probably very little change in lifestyles, whether from luck or planning, or both.
Regretfully, for many, many others, uncertainty, trauma, poor health, money anxieties, job retention concerns have upended their world. It will take much more time to get back to a normal life.
And we all, are so very, very sorry for the losses in your lives.
Economists and analysts can project, reject, analyse, and surmise to the height of their abilities about how people, businesses, economies, governments, and countries will resume normal functioning roles in society. All patterns and trends are relevant in economic terms. We, as individuals and as a community, all have influence, unknowingly and in full cognisance of demonstrating our choices and trends; individually, collectively, subjectively, and objectively.
Some individuals and businesses have far more influence than others.
An example: Kim Kardashian West, one of the ten largest global social media influencers with more than 188 million followers on Facebook and Instagram (more than world leaders), announced last week she would freeze her FB accounts for a day, specifically, Wednesday this week, wiping millions off FB's stock value in minutes according to finance media.
Originally actioned in June 2020, the advocacy campaign Stop Hate for Profit has seen more than 500 companies boycott Facebook advertising. According to the New York Times' Dealbook newsletter on June 29, 2020: “Marketers are expressing unease with how it [Facebook] handles misinformation and hate speech, including its permissive approach to problematic posts by the US president.” This statement is applicable in any country.
In the end, it all boils down to the common denominators. Money, emotions, moral codes social conscience, or lack thereof, and trend influencers all intersecting, fluctuating, in both positive and adverse reactions to effect economic and financial change.
Stop hate for profit: Kim Kardashian freezes Facebook, Instagram accounts, Reuters, September 16, 2020, Katie Paul, https://tinyurl.com/y6jsmjuc
• Martha Harris Myron, CPA JSM, a native Bermudian, is creator of Pondstraddler Life Financial Perspectives, international financial consultant to the Olderhood Group Bermuda, and financial columnist to The Royal Gazette, Bermuda. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. All proceeds from these articles are donated to the Salvation Army, Bermuda