Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Day 12: How will society change?

This article is part of The 100 Days Offensive.

One point I spend a lot of thoughts on: What will be the effect of the Corona virus on the society after it is gone? How and what will change? Only once in my life I felt such a drastic change in my future and that was on September 11th 2001.

There are small changes that are obviously coming. For example I predict that the cinemas will never be the same again. A lot more movies will bypass the cinematic release cycle and head directly for streaming consumption. I do not expect the number of moviegoers to come close to those in 2019 ever again. I may be wrong and there will be a new groundbreaking technology that cannot be replicated at home, but I do not see such a thing coming. But that is something of a very limited impact (except for the cinemas).

Another thing I can safely predict is that every politician will tie his favorite hobbyhorse to combating the pandemic or mitigating the fallout. We could already see politicians opening their poison cabinet and pulling out things like "data retention". After 911 we (to our surprise) learned that "piracy funds terrorism". No bullshit was too stupid to be attached to that topic. And we will see the same kind of nonsense with pandemics. But such changes will still be rather superficial.

Much deeper will the effect of the image that democracies project during the crisis. They have already lost a lot of their appeal with figureheads like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson that could give every backwater warlord a run for their money. Can democracies a) go through the crisis without castrating themselves like in Hungary and b) show to be an efficient form of government and capable of handling the crisis. If either fails, the democracy cannot prove it's own worth. And already the impression of failure can cause in the long term much more drastic and painful changes.

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