One morning we woke up and the world had gone slightly mad. Nothing quite made sense anymore. In a time when “two-day free delivery” was being replaced by “two HOUR free delivery,” we started hearing about the scarcity of some pretty basic things.
I was born in the mid-seventies so I don’t remember gas shortages. The only kind of shortage I can recall was very brief (hours, not days) run on gas when people overreacted to news from the Middle East. Other than that, I have lived my whole life pretty secure in the knowledge that if I needed, or even wanted, something I could probably have it in my hands within a few days time. Money is always an issue, but if the item could be afforded, it could be had.
Not so much anymore. The global economic supply chain is being tested in a way it has never been before. And the assumptions we based our lives around are being strained along with it. What might have been called hoarding before now looks more like prudence. Instead of asking at 4 PM what we should have for dinner, we now are looking in the fridge the day before to make sure we have what we need to eat tomorrow. It feels like pretty soon we will need to plan even a little further ahead.
Until the last two generations or so, this would have seemed normal. But we went through a period of such rapid expansion in the logistics around production and distribution of food and consumer goods that we seem to have lost a little bit of that collective memory on how to prepare for hard times.
Those days are probably gone for a while. The next two generations will grow up in a world where people remind them about what happened in 2020 and admonish them to always have food on hand. Always buy an extra pack of toilet paper when its there. In the way that our great-grandparents and grandparents behave differently because of their experiences in the Depression, we will carry the scars of the fear we feel right now with us and pass them on to our kids and grandkids.
If your persepctive on the the world hasn’t changed in the last month, I’d like to be where you are. But I think for the vast majority of the global population there is a rapidly shifting change in the way we interact with our world.
A lot of distress is going to come out of this. But I am more interested to see what the longer lasting effects will be. Will it bring us closer together? Will “socail distancing” be a new social norm? Will more people work from home even after it’s safe to return to offices?
So while we all deal with the frightening prospects that are in our immediate view, take a few moments to ponder what you want your life to look like when this has all settled down. Do you want your old life back just as it was? Or are there things we can learn from what happened in 2020 that we want to carry forward with us into the future?