A Future With Limits Thanks To COVID-19

All that will come after COVID-19 is unknown, but we can speculate based on the changes that have taken place. Are they for better or for worse though? Those living in this moment can really see what is going on and the more we are aware of our observations right now the more we can really think about how things were and how things are.

Have you ever heard someone much older than you tell you, “Things aren’t the way they used to be..”? Or, “Times sure are different..”? That might be you telling someone in the future regarding pre-coronavirus and post-coronavirus times. So get to know the details and nuances now, while they are still being figured out, so you can have powerful stories to tell, with vivid imagery.

Why do you think I’m writing what I’m writing right now? This is a moment in time, a moment that might just change the world in a major way, hence the time to write about the changes is now, as they are happening. How times used to be is only months ago at this point, not years ago. How times will be years from now is unknown, some changes might take longer than others, some might fade, others may change, rearrange, evolve, how the future will look might be getting shaped right now. This is a time to think about pros and cons to changes, the right and wrong changes that may be beginning to be implemented, and help change the course of certain changes. A lot of “changes” I wrote, right? Change, change, change, okay, too much.

Let me get to some specifics now, here are 3 impactful changes that may change how the future will look:

CHANGE 1: SOCIAL DISTANCE, 6 FEET APART

People are really beginning to practice this. And in my opinion it’s nice. I like it. The extra space to breathe, room to move, it’s good. Plus myself already having preferred to have social distance from people before it became known as social distance feels right to me. It’s almost like a change I wanted, but didn’t know how to achieve at a mass scale without explaining to strangers again and again that I like my “bubble” of space. Now I can simply say I’d like to practice my “social distance” and should be good to go with most people. But let’s look at this idea of being 6 feet apart further and see how far it can go. Right now the world is not set up this way. From restaurants to public transportation to airports, planes, et cetera. And I get it, space is limited, and when the demand is high, but the supply is limited what is one to do? Why would a restaurant go from serving 50 tables next to each other to only 25 or whatever the count would be so that every table can have social distance from one another? Why would a plane accept less passengers so everyone could have social distance? If you want that buy a first class ticket, right? Otherwise sit in the middle right next to strangers and germs, right? If we think about it, social distance implementation can really shift all kinds of numbers around, whether it be the number of new cases in a pandemic or the number of customers served at an establishment or a businesses expenses to profits ratio or a variety of other numbers in different forms and styles. The question now very well may be, “Can we have social distance and win-win-win situations?” For some businesses social distance doesn’t seem to affect the cash flow much and it looks like everyone can be happy. But for other businesses finances may be hurting due to the cut in customers served at a given time or on a given trip, which doesn’t feel like a win-win-win. So what’s the alternative? Maybe stop social distancing and allow people to take their chances of getting a virus? That actually might end up being a lose-lose-lose because if employees and customers feel a business is unsafe they may not be interested in having anything to do with the business, hence the businesses finances may end up doing worse than if it were serious about social distancing and safety for all, even if it meant cutting accommodations in half, and maybe potential profits too. But with limiting accommodations it may feel like a win-win-lose or a win-lose-lose. How do we get to a win-win-win, for everyone? I’d say a route to really consider is to have new engineering, architecture, and design come into play. Yes, this can take a long time, but if inventions with ideas of social distance in mind are thought of and implemented we may get to places where we’ve never been before and where there are more win-win-wins than before. I mean imagine seeing a plane completely redesigned that allows social distancing seamlessly. Imagine that plane fitting the same capacity of people as before somehow, but also giving people more privacy and less susceptibility to getting germs and airborne particles spread from others. Would that not be amazing!? Same goes for trains. Subways. Restaurant design. And so much more. The world can look very different, and if done right it can look very awesome and be much more comfortable and safe.

CHANGE 2: LIMITATIONS APPLY

This idea of a limited number of customers in an establishment is a bit new for me. Well, kind of. Because I have seen certain stores practice that model before the pandemic, but very few, and usually they were stores I didn’t have much interest in, so I don’t have many experiences of waiting in line to go into a store and feeling like the quantity of people was controlled once in. I’m used to most places not having limits. And somehow I was fine with that because normally there was space to move around anyway. And if I did encounter a really crowded place I had the choice to not go in or just aim to go in and out real quick. But now things are different. Very different. The other day I went to a bakery and it limited 2 customers at a time. Only 2! It was no longer me just going in, getting something, and then going out. It felt like an usual pause in my day. At CVS too, there was a line out the door, limiting the amount of customers that were to go inside. I don’t think I ever experienced CVS have this before. Same goes for Whole Foods. Limitations are really beginning to apply. Are they for better or for worse? Though I find it a bit annoying to wait in line, especially if I want to get something real quick, I’d agree that this is probably for the better. Because while waiting in line you give others space who are shopping and then you get that respect right back when you make it in the store. Versus having no line and every customer welcome in whenever, that could be problematic if too many people come at once, are breathing on one another, bumping into each other, and causing congestion. So with the limitations going on now, what should we expect in the future? Maybe a redesign of stores, certain stores, to have a different flow? A new way to think of how to go about outdoor lines? Do people wrap around a building, stand on a sidewalk, outside, or does new architecture for buildings get implemented with the idea of a line for customers to wait 6 feet apart from one another? If 10 people are waiting in line that’s already 60 feet. How much will the idea of limitations be considered in the future? Will stores have separate doors to go into separate sections within a store? What will the future bring?

CHANGE 3: WEAR A MASK

Are you wearing a mask right now? If not, do you have one handy? In many parts of the world the concept of wearing a mask, or face covering, is extremely new. But in some places it’s been a normal thing to do for years. So this adjustment of having to wear a face mask in public if you can’t have social distance is unusual for some to do, uncomfortable even, but common for others. And for those not used to this idea there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding and confusion, “What’s it for? Does it stop a disease from coming on to me? Does it stop me from spreading a virus to others if I have a virus? Is there a right fabric to use? What if it’s hard for me to breathe, what do I do? Can I cover my face with anything?..” And the questions can go on. What I understood in the past about face masks was that people wore them if they were sick, usually with a common cold, so they don’t infect others nor spread germs. And that is my understanding now too, that one should wear a face covering during this pandemic to protect others. But what’s weird and interesting now is that with this virus and the uncertainty it brings, like having the ability to not show symptoms on a person, but somehow spread from that person to others, the idea is for everyone to wear a face covering when in public indefinitely, especially in indoor spaces and if there is difficulty maintaining social distance. So what does this mean for the future? Will masks become so common to wear and be like clothing, something you just put on without even thinking about it? Or will people abruptly stop wearing them if a vaccine comes to fruition? How much have face coverings changed the world already? How have they affected interactions and reactions? And how will they affect thoughts, ideas, and perceptions in the future in retrospect?

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What if I was just a figment, would that make my writing not real, instead imagined?

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