We Learn a Lot About Each Other in Such Times, Sometimes with a Laugh.
New Environments, Same Old DNA
Well, nothing like a few weeks of pandemic driven self-isolation to see what makes us all tick, eh? People change in new environments, as we see all around. But sometimes, we are predictable as can be.
Much of what has developed in society in recent weeks was foreseeable. Ah, but some were not so predictable. I have noted quite a few (changes? quirks? proclivities?) that I not have seen coming. Some of these changes have great potential for society. Some are funny. Some are weird.
Let’s take a look, shall we? Today is an easy read – a somewhat light-hearted walk through what is changing all around us.
o Facebook Gets a Reprieve – The often distrusted (for good reasons) social media giant remains by far the biggest player on the board. It still baffles me why no one has started up a “clean” version of this type of social media. Many of us would gladly pay for such a service without all the negatives of Facebook. But for now, it is gaining thousands of new and returning users, and more Friend requests than ever. Bored people are looking for outlets, and ways to connect. I can verify this. I have gotten an unusual number of Friend requests during all this. Many are from people I barely know, some from people I do not know at all, but we share some common friends. I remain cautious of which invitations I accept. I get one from what I am sure are bots on occasion. But people are using Facebook to connect as never before, that is for sure.
o YouTube as a Solution for… Anything – I have always been fascinated by the range of “How To” videos on YouTube. Think of almost anything, and there are videos to guide your way. Not all are trustworthy, but many are. We are all getting shaggier, with beauty parlors and barber shops closed. People are checking out self-haircut videos. haircuts, etc. The results can be…. Interesting.
o Grandparents as Zoom Masters – I have been doing a lot of work in recent weeks with people who did not know how to turn their computers on. But now they are eager to connect. With a bit of effort, we have grandparents hosting family gatherings on Zoom. Friends chatting on Skype. Others talking to people on FaceTime. None of this is as daunting as it may seem at first. After a couple of rounds of this, it feels much like face to face time. Some have even hosted Virtual Happy Hours. Cheers!
o Hidden Personalities – Programs like Zoom provide the opportunity to create virtual backgrounds for teleconferences. Boy, just when you think you know someone, you see their choice of a background. You find yourself thinking, “Really? THAT is your choice? What else do I not know about you?” It’s sort of like finding that someone you have always known as a quite soul has a tattoo that covers their entire back.
The Retail Products Sector
o I made my first trip to the grocery store awhile back, under these new conditions. And I found new limitations. I keep my shopping list on my phone, checking things off as I shop. Lessons learned. The phone is unimpressed when you push a button on the screen with a hand encased by a rubber glove. It wants flesh, baby! Oh, and when the phone goes to sleep from inactivity? The feature that brings it back to life with the sight of your face? It does not trust that face covered in a breathing mask. Back to the old paper shopping list for a while.
o I was surprised to find stores routinely out of or short of meat, fish, and poultry. Were we hoarding that too, like bathroom tissue? No. I eventually figured out that this was evidence of how many meals people eat out. Now everything has to be made at home , with occasional carry out. The demand for these products in much higher in stores.
I wish this meant a rush in business and revenue for farmers, but no. With restaurants closed everywhere, farm products are being destroyed. There are no markets for the production. One hopes some of that makes its way to food banks. Itappears much goes to waste and farmers are hurting at unprecedented levels.
Restaurants and the Service Sector
o I saw a poignant interview with a restaurant owner recently. He spoke movingly of the terrible day he had to lay everyone off. He spoke of his efforts to hang on to the business until they could open again. But then he reminded us also of one the interesting things about economics – the ripple effect.
He talked about all those people who produce the food products he used and the drivers who deliver them. How about the service stations who fuel those trucks? The the companies that made the packaging.? Someone closes a business and everyone who touches that business suffers a loss, too. I think every day about those concentric circles of impact and fear for who will not return when all this is over.
Uh… Specialty Entertainment Services
o I have always thought of myself as a pretty worldly sort of fellow. But in reading about what is happening online in this period, I found there was much I knew not existed. One such item: online strip clubs via Instagram. A couple of enterprising gentlemen were sad. They were unhappy that such establishments were closed now. They decided to recreate the experience online, as an experiment. It took off, with even celebrities sign in to join the house. Clearly, this had potential, so they set it up with pay apps, so the ladies were paid. Turns out this may be a better option for those so inclined. Both clients and performers say this may be better than traditional venues. Who knew?! Read all about it. In the NY Times, no less. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/10/style/justin-laboy-instagram-strip-clubs-live.html
o But strip clubs are tame compared to what else I ran across. There appears to be a phenomenon online that is something like “Costco or Sam’s Club for Voyeurs.”
People pay a fee to join a site. Members can watch entertainment, usually for a fee. Or they can submit scenarios they would like to see enacted. They may request a particular performer. If the performer agrees, a price set, production is completed, and shown. Depending on the terms, it may be shown just to the requester or to a wider, paying audience. The interview I read indicated that requests can get rather sporty. This sort of set up has been around for some time, but new members and inquiries are through the roof now. Not all such sites are kinky. Many attract people with particular interests, but most run a bit on the blue side. Have fun reading all about it in a perfectly safe article. https://www.wired.com/story/new-erotics-coronavirus-isolation/
o By now, just about everyone who is going to do so has cleaned out their closets. We have organized our files, etc. Local community services hope we are about done. Many cities and townships have asked people to back off. Trash collections are supersized these days, more than the regular trash run vehicles can handle. But, hey, look at my neat garage!
o If you ever thought about binge watching anything, now is your chance. You can, for example, go on CBS All Access and see everything ever made as Star Trek. All the TV series, all the movies, all the new series. You could do this for weeks. With services like Netflix, Disney, and YouTube you can watch hours of anything ever made. Last week I took a stroll down memory lane with Carol Burnette and Paladin. You name it, it’s out there.
o It turns out that pet adoptions and animal fostering are way up as well. Perhaps having kids and parents home all day, every day gives kids a never-ending opportunity to make the case for a pet. On the one hand, this is great. Some shelters are almost empty. I just hope all these new pet partners are planning for when they go back to work.
Society at Large
o Many individuals, families, nonprofits, and small businesses are facing a stark realization. Not having a rainy-day fund to cover essentials for about three months can be devastating. That is a tough level of reserves for many to build. But for a small business, this may be the difference between coming back to life or not. We never know what is around the next bend in the road of life. Not having some level of preparation for the unforeseen is a recipe for disaster. No getting around this reality.
o We are discovering a bit about ourselves in this time of isolation. Some have come to think of it as a time of reflection. A time of getting long deferred tasks completed or as an opportunity to learn something new. Others suffer isolation more; they need that direct contact.
o No touch/Low touch greetings will grow as the norm. I enjoy a good handshake, but I predict its days are numbered. We are evolving toward a wave, a nod of the head, or a touch on the shoulder. We still need human contact, but I bet we will be a bit smarter about finding it.
o Work from home is a smart idea. For many jobs, there is no reason they could not be accomplished, at least a few days of the week from home. Think what that would mean for travel time and fuel burned. The environmental boost alone is worth the change. Many areas of the world today have clean air and water such as they have not seen in decades. Why? Because we are not all driving to work at centralized locations.
What About You?
What changes, good or bad are you seeing? Which changes likely to stay with us? What should be encouraged? It’s going to be a different world, that is for sure. Change like this, on this scale, comes very rarely. What shallwe do with it all?
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