Belinda and I were chatting on Wednesday (yay for video calling) and we were playing the what if game. What if things change so much during and after this pandemic that there will be permanent positive transformation. It is so easy for me to just look at the loss of income and the feeling of being disconnected, that I sometimes forget that there could possibly be positive change.
What if most fashion and other retail stores had to move their shops online? Let’s say social distancing becomes the norm for some time. In this scenario, only a limited amount of people would be allowed into a mall and into a shop. It would then make sense to sell only online. They would save a lot on overheads and could possibly offer clothes at better prices. What if so many stores had to move online that malls can be repurposed for community projects? Like shelters for abused women or single moms that have nowhere to go. (The idea to convert a mall into a shelter was Belinda’s brilliant idea)
What if then because all the big store are online, we can have small shops in neighbourhoods again? Like a local bakery and butchery. You would buy most of your stuff online, but get personal, specialty goods at your neighbourhood shop. I like the idea of shopping at a family business and getting service because they know me. Chain stores are so impersonal. Wouldn’t it be great if we can have a sense of community again?
What if this can create a better, more sustainable way of living? What if by buying local, we give the local economy a boost and we support our neighbours and they in return support us? Maybe this time away from consumerism will teach us what we really need and I’m living in hope that the world won’t go on a shopping spree when the restrictions are lifted. Well, I think that so many people lost their jobs or are taking pay cuts, that they probably won’t.
This is just my experience in my country (South Africa) and I can’t speak for everyone. I feel a deep disconnect from life in general. I know that the lockdown is partially to blame because we are separated from each other in real life at the moment. This forced “apartness” from people also made me realise that I want to feel connected to others. I want to be part of something that has meaning to me and gives meaning to others.
So how to you feel about all this? Do you think we will pretty much just pick up where we left off? Or will the world look different after we can come out of shelter? I think things will be different – I just hope it’s a good different.