Very few of us have a mental model for the macro conditions that we are living through right now. We have been through economic downturns, but most of us haven’t lived through a pandemic. I am an optimist and I know that we will get through this and normalcy will return. But one of the questions that we’re all asking ourselves right now is: What will “normalcy” look like on the backend?
Here is an interesting piece of evidence for the current shutdown:
When I see pictures of our cities, like these from Italy, I can’t help but think of the life that normally plays out in the streets. The conversations. The chance encounters. And even the smells. Some of that activity has moved to every single balcony in Italy and that is a beautiful thing. But it’s no substitute for true street life. Thankfully, we know that public life will both return and prevail.
Along the way there will be changes. There are going to be winners and losers. Some companies are going to go bankrupt. And there will be adjustments that we have made that will invariably stick. Are we all going to video conference more? (The obvious one.) Will we all travel less? Will this macro event accelerate our transition to a knowledge-based digital economy? I’m sure it will. Also consider all of the new companies that are being started right at this very moment.
But as I said on Twitter today, we are social beings. That is one of the reasons why we choose to live in cities. And I am certain that isn’t going away.