Riotous or at least with the brakes on: that there will be partying, shopping and traveling when we are all vaccinated. But what after that momentary euphoria? What will our life look like in the coming years?
According to some, we can dream of a re-release of the 'roaring twenties', a period of unbridled zest for life and progress. But will we really dance a collective Charleston? Cultural sociologist Walter Weyns (UAntwerpen) looks ahead to our life after the pandemic: "Unique phenomena seldom tend to drastically change the world."
The fight against the virus is a fairly unique event in our lives. And unique phenomena rarely tend to drastically change the world.
"The roaring twenties were the result of a cluster of historical developments. To name just one, the consumer goods market really took off. Electrification brought many products onto the market that changed everyday life: that gave an unprecedented sense of liberation. If you look at our current economy, you can see that it is entirely dominated by the transition to ecologically responsible production and consumption. Buying rash and carefree, après nous le déluge : out of date . "
“If we look back at the crisis three or four years from now, I think we will find that this was not a game changer . Virologists now predict that we will have more pandemics to deal with, but for us, here and now, the fight against the virus is a fairly unique event in our lives. And unique phenomena seldom tend to drastically change the world. Precisely because they are not structural. What is at play are long-term phenomena such as the climate crisis. will affect the coming years much more than the pandemic.
Whether, as Marc Van Ranst predicts, we will never shake hands again at a greeting? I seriously doubt that.
Nevertheless, Weyns also acknowledges that we will take a number of things from this crisis into the coming years. "Healthcare will prepare better for new epidemics and in the economy and in education the new forms of electronic communication will not run away. But whether, as Marc Van Ranst predicts, we will never shake hands again in a greeting?" I dare to seriously doubt it. People are tactile creatures. We not only want to look at each other but also sniff, grab each other. That is a switch that you cannot just turn around for a moment. It is also not desirable: imagine that children are touched less , or touching each other less, that would lead to developmental disorders. "
Change psychologist Herman Konings agrees that the Covid crisis will not cause a revolutionary upheaval. But it is equally clear to him that our lives will look different at the end of 2021 than two years ago.
"In psychodiagnostics, we sometimes classify people on a scale from extremely extroverted to extremely introverted," he says. "About 1 in 6 is extremely extroverted: he or she wants to go back to the old normal. Get rid of those mouth masks, forget the past year as soon as possible. One in six is extremely introverted: these people will feel as much as possible in their kot will stay and will probably never shake hands again. They have internalized the behaviors they have learned in recent months. But the most important group, four-sixths, skips between those two extremes. A concrete example: when everything is over, we can But cinema attendance will never again reach the same level as before the Covid crisis: the introverts will avoid spaces with a lot of people and those who suffer less from fear of contamination have discovered Netflix and Streamz in recent months. crisis, they will have to expand their offer: for a 'live' concert of the Foo Fighters, for example, who are on a stage on the other side of the world, you go still fill a few rooms. "
Companies will impose that the employee must come to the office x number of days per week. This will soon lead to the disposal of office space.
What have we discovered en masse in 2020? The takeaway. "I do see the restaurants fill up again because the experience of being served is still something else than having to mess around with those Styrofoam containers yourself", Konings thinks. "But more generally, e-commerce is not going away anymore. It is one of the many megatrends - or rather: processes of civilization - that have accelerated during the crisis."
Another one of these: teleworking. "Definitely a keeper," says economist and labor market expert Stijn Baert. "Not at the current level, where many people are obliged to work from home almost always. But more than before 2020. Before the corona crisis, employees were allowed to register x number of days of telework per month, now I think it will be the other way around: the companies are going to impose that the employee must come to the office x number of days a week. This will soon result in office space being divested. "
And that in turn has an impact on the labor market: offices that are no longer there, no longer need to be cleaned. The cafeterias may be smaller and will run on fewer staff. The sandwich shops and restaurants in the area will have less turnover, and so on. "At the same time, the parcel economy requires a lot of other jobs," says Baert. "We will sooner than expected be obliged to reorient to sectors of the future: 'retraining, retraining, retraining' will become the new 'jobs, jobs, jobs'."
Unlike Walter Weyns, Baert does not want to bury neoliberalism yet. He even sees a resurrection. "Before the corona crisis, there was a growing realization that there had to be a brake on economic growth: too much pollution, excessive use of raw materials. But now I hear even left-wing parties say that economic growth is absolutely necessary to clear the debt of the crisis. . "
Not unimportant, Herman Konings also thinks. "Behavioral change is not only due to what individuals or groups want. You also have to look at how government and industry are trying to nudge us in a favorable direction."
Health, empathy and solidarity
On an individual level we will in any case start to live more consciously and healthier, thinks Herman Konings. "Health is a civilization process. In the past we thought primarily curative, now we have moved more quickly to a preventive approach. The notaries announced it this week: everyone wants a house with a garden. For oxygen, an enemy of viruses. Everyone. has more plants in the house, the use of wood in construction is increasing: even apartments are now being built of wood in order to filter impure air flows. In terms of nutrition, clean eating has received a huge boost: the fresh departments of the supermarkets sold 5% more last year than the year before. "
We have also become better, more balanced people, Konings believes. "There has been so much attention to fear, uncertainty and doubt that there has been an enormous lowering of the threshold towards psychology and mental coaching. In the future we will seek professional help more quickly and more often when we are struggling. are all easier to talk about our feelings Also with family and friends This morning I heard Thibault Christiaensen, the punk rocker of Equal Idiots, tell at Studio Brussel that he had watched a new series with his girlfriend and shed a tear. Not so long ago he would have been laughed at hard, now there was a positive response Most of us have not yet received the vaccine, but we have already had a shot of empathy and solidarity: how long is unclear but it will keep it from cynicism and pessimism for a long time. "
Impact on the events sector?
It is clear that these social changes will also have an impact on the events sector. Now that we've all embraced online events, they won't disappear. After all, there are events that can be well organized with the right online event technology and that has advantages. However, we all need live encounters. So events will definitely return! We are already seeing the number of requests for hybrid events, events and wedding parties on eventplanner.ie rising again.
How do you see the future of events? Let us know in a comment below this article!