After Coronavirus, Our Lives Will Change Forever

Whether we work digitally or not, a post-Coronavirus world will impose upon mankind a need to live for, and help, each other.

Nigeria's COVID-19 positive cases up to 232 / Photo credit: qz.com
Nigeria's COVID-19 positive cases up to 232 / Photo credit: qz.com
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Paradigm shift is often used in scientific and non-scientific contexts to explain fundamental changes in the understanding and operation of life.

The impact of Coronavirus on all nations, economies and citizens across the world is a classic study of how life will never be the same after this is all over, a real shift.

In laying out the concept of paradigm shift, American physicist and philosopher, Thomas Kuhn, posited that most changes are gradual, but later accepted it may even be sudden.

It does appear we are experiencing both the gradual and sudden change at the same time.

This is the first time in my lifetime, and I have been around for more than half a century, that places of religious worship will be closed.

It was unthinkable that churches would shut down at the same time that Saudi Arabian immigration posts are closed to pilgrims.

They are supposed to be open when all else is closed.

We may think that COVID-19 is just attacking our bodies and affecting our health, but where it really draws is our minds, our behaviour, relationships, habits, routines and more importantly, our pockets.

You are probably sitting at home reading this article and wondering when you will be let out of the cage stay-at-home order imposed by the government.

You may be thinking this is all exaggerated and there is no reason why your work, place of worship and the airport should have been locked down.

We may think that COVID-19 is just attacking our bodies and affecting our health, but where it really draws is our minds, our behaviour, relationships, habits, routines and more importantly, our pockets

After all, other diseases, such as malaria and influenza, kill more people every year.

You may be right, but a pandemic surge like COVID-19 has never been seen in this generation.

Whatever may be going through your mind, of this you must be sure, this is far from normal.

And abnormal events leave abnormal results.

When coronavirus is beaten, it will leave us with some scars – as well as opportunities.

As I write, the average daily death rate from the disease in Italy is nearing 800.

Families are unable to be with loved ones when they die owing to fear of infection.

Worldwide, no fewer than 300,000 cases have been confirmed and close to 13,000 are dead.

Health systems are becoming overwhelmed.

It would be worse by the time you read this.

In the United States where I live, shopping is the engine of life, but malls are shut down in most places and the stock market has taken one tumble after another.

More than 80 million people have been ordered to stay at home.

It is estimated that the economy would have lost $5trn in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Airline tickets that sold for above $300 three weeks ago now cost as low as $15, as air travels slowed down to a trickle.

All across the world, lockdown rules are in effect, and the streets of global cities such as New York, London, Rome, Madrid, Chicago, Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris and Hong Kong are empty.

International travel is nearly dead, as nations shut their borders against each other.

In Colombia, even citizens are not allowed to return from abroad in the fear of coronavirus.

Economies are collapsing quickly, and each nation will have to count its losses later, when they begin to rise from the rubble

Economies are collapsing quickly, and each nation will have to count its losses later, when they begin to rise from the rubble.

The glitter of hope is that in many advanced countries, where technology has taken a step ahead, a large number of people are able to Work From Home (WFH).

In many others, such as Nigeria and most African nations, the concept of Work From Home means do-nothing-at-home-and-yet-be-paid.

Our lives will be changed forever after an event of this proportion.

Although many of us have yet to grapple with the full ramifications of this life-changing event, some things are becoming apparent.

In the same way that airport security changed forever after the 9-11 attacks in the US, life is changed forever by the pandemic.

Fear will spread for years to come.

Never again would man take for granted the need for personal hygiene, as simple as the washing of hands, but possibly extending to social distancing from friends, families, co-workers, religious connections and many more in new ways.

The protocol in public spaces will certainly change to more restrictive forms of interaction.

Remote working is an area where the world will see an obvious deviation in a post-Coronavirus world.

People will become more physically distanced through WFH.

But fear not, actually distance in terms of inter-personal communications will reduce. Digital villages and communities will explode, such as in WhatsApp groups and live streaming. We will live in a more virtual world. Many will work with people they do not see and talk to people they cannot touch.

have had the ability to work from home for about seven years, but not until three years ago did I fully take advantage of it.

It comes with benefits, including the ability to manage time better, do things quicker, work flexibly with teams across many time zones, cut on carbon emissions and enjoy a better work-life balance.

My companies are not bleeding from the pandemic because they have invested for years for a time like this.

The Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, aroused my interest when he invoked a WFH order on government workers in his state.

Never again would man take for granted the need for personal hygiene, as simple as the washing of hands, but possibly extending to social distancing from friends, families, co-workers, religious connections and many more in new ways

I work in technology and know that it takes years of preparations to deliver the cloud infrastructure, telephony, remote access tools and endpoint computing hardware that makes it possible.

I felt Nigeria had turned the corner if civil servants in Ekiti were able to connect remotely from computers to access data in the office.

Or, I thought, some ideas may have been devised, making it possible to take physical files safely home and communicate among workers.

To my disappointment, I learned from a friend that in Nigeria, WFH meant salary without work.

He explained, “I actually chuckled when I first read the report.

The ‘work from home’ directive is just a euphemism for people to stay at home, but their salary is guaranteed.

In a nutshell, just a palliative statement to assuage possible feelings of concern regarding job security and payment of salary.”

We are set for a digital lifestyle.

The Ekiti situation aside, after this pandemic, everywhere in the world, a race to ensure workers can do their jobs from home will begin.

According to Sherry Turkle, professor of the social studies of science and technology at MIT, “If, moving forward, we apply our most human instincts to our devices, that will have been a powerful COVID-19 legacy. Not only alone together, but together alone.”

Nigeria has a mountain to climb here.

The infrastructure required to make such a leap has either crumbled or is non-existent.

How can you work from home when you have no electricity?

How can you work from home when your Internet is as slow as molasses?

How do we get people connected to the web from their homes on a fast network to ensure economic productivity in a time of crises?

Many of us will soon find out we must get on the streets to help people in our neighbourhoods in order live through this pandemic

That’s a big need, a question for those who rule Nigeria.

Never again would religious organizations rely on physical spaces for their meetings and gatherings.

When gatherings of more than 20-50 persons are being forbidden, worship experiences must change. Saudi Arabia, the destination of Muslims for the yearly pilgrimage, is currently on lockdown.

No hajj is possible.

My church has already decided that the Easter service will be held exclusively online.

Innovation will reach religion, of that one can be sure.

Elections are a reflection of stable societies.

Voting systems are bound to change in most countries.

Online, electronic and mail-in voting options have become necessary.

In the United States, presidential primaries were cancelled last week in several states, and there are fears that if COVID-19 does not significantly subside before the end of the summer, online and mail-in voting would become necessary in all of the United States ahead of the presidential election.

You can also expect that the educational system is changed forever.

In some countries, some schools have been able to move all classes online, not just at the university level but down to the elementary and secondary education.

Many school districts in the US, Hong Kong and elsewhere have been using technology to keep students at home productively.

Most universities in Western countries have been delivering online classes for nearly two decades or even more.

This forward-thinking approach is paying off during the pandemic.

Other school districts and countries have now learned that at-home education is inevitable.

Home delivery of goods will have to expand.

One of the greatest challenges of online shopping in sub-Sahara Africa is the absence of traceable home addresses.

While there are a few companies able to take online orders, they cannot deliver to all parts of Nigeria.

Coronavirus is sounding a call for change, and it is a challenge that administrators will need to fix as soon as possible.

We will require drastic changes to health management systems.

Diagnosis is always at the heart of healthcare and it is a challenge for Nigeria.

The pandemic will focus attention on the methods and practice of medical diagnosis and their co-relationship with the patient care.

There has to be improvements in the ratio of doctors and hospital to patients.

Telemedicine will take a new meaning. In some parts of the world, doctors are already able to perform diagnosis and surgery remotely.

The ability to use video and mobile technology to get patient vital signs and direct medical actions remotely for a large number of people – one doctor to many more – will become important.

The financial markets are hurting not because of access to technology but conditions outside of their control.

In fact, predictions have been good based on available information.

Markets have suffered less systemic uncertainty as a result of this pandemic simply because they embraced digital solutions early.

Trading in stock can be entirely done online, and if there is anyone reading this article who hasn’t yet figured out how to perform mobile and online banking, I am simply shocked.

In the end, we need to change our attitude towards each other, being assured that our days are ultimately numbered

Many algorithms employed to determine economic, social, political and other indices are due for change.

There will be new and ingenious ways of calculating outcomes.

Economic indicators, such as housing starts, gross domestic product, per capita, consumer price index, consumer leverage ratio and industrial production will likely have factors, with some latitude for unforeseen and frequent calamities as coronavirus and global warming.

The pace and direction of research is bound to change.

Any company that is able to find solutions to the most impactful challenges for a socially-distanced world will rake in a lot of money.

From remote working tools, to online ordering, at-home goods delivery, virtual reality and new digital tools.

I hope everyone makes it long enough to experience a changed and better world than the one that is currently ravaged by COVID-19

We are set for launch into an era of products not needed yesterday.

Data science, big data, analytics, artificial intelligence and other descriptions of collecting and interpreting data for public engineering will become very important.

The ability to analyse catastrophes through data and simulation has become critical.

Universities will need to move quickly into producing graduates who have the relevant skills.

Those who have the training right now will make a killing.

Major television news networks in the United States now broadcast from the homes of their news anchors.

While it is usually obvious when their guests are joining from home via Skype and other forms of video conferencing, the technology is so perfect that it is difficult to know that the anchors work from home.

This is amazing technology. TV Broadcasting is bound to explore this road further in the next few years.

Relationships are bound to be tested.

As people work more from home, they have adjustments to make in their personal lives.

Many husbands today spend most of their daily lives outside of the house.

It is even worse in major cities in Nigeria, where people get out too soon because of traffic.

I have a few friends who set out by four in the morning, in order to beat the traffic in Lagos.

If they are able to work from home, they might have to adjust to spending more time with wife and kids, and less at the club and other hangouts for guys.

I do believe though that whether we work digitally or not, a post-Coronavirus world will impose upon mankind a need to live for, and help, each other.

Humanity will not survive without a tweak of our individualistic instincts.

Many of us will soon find out we must get on the streets to help people in our neighbourhoods in order live through this pandemic.

Nigeria has been traveling towards the individualism that characterises Western societies, and distancing from support through a network that relies on families, friends and neighbors.

The world will go in the opposite direction.

Africa has always been right about communal life, and this will be proven.

Above all, people will soon realize that capitalism and materialism have limits.

Welfare capitalism will become reasonable and acceptable.

Rich people are as vulnerable as the poorest when a pandemic strikes.

It is no respecter of kings or princes, queens or princesses, presidents, first ladies, celebrities, entertainers or the affluent.

Everyone can be as vulnerable.

In the end, we need to change our attitude towards each other, being assured that our days are ultimately numbered.

The importance of the first real pandemic in this generation is summed up by a friend, a former Ghanaian journalist, John Solomon.

He reasoned:

“Truth is, of our own selves we have no power over the unpredictable realities of life; the unforeseen calamities that could wipe whole groups of people in a moment of time.

The thought of it brings home forcefully why we all need to develop a caring heart and eschew greed and self-aggrandisement.”

I hope everyone makes it long enough to experience a changed and better world than the one that is currently ravaged by COVID-19.

Written by Tunde Chris Odediran

Tunde Chris Odediran studied and practiced journalism in Nigeria. He is now a Technical Communications and Information Technology professional in the United States.

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