One of the unintended consequences of Covid-19 is to make us all, hustlers. The old status symbols became irrelevant. It would be a good PhD thesis to study how the affluent reacted to this “demotion.”
Take flying abroad and all its drama; from being dropped at the airport to being picked, the phone calls and photos. It’s more drama when government officials are involved. We are all marooned at home.
Take studying abroad, having classmates of different nationalities and races. Now we have to study online; even Ivy League universities have their classes online. The prestige of leaving home is gone, no more seasons from winter to summer.
Even our attire has changed. With face masks, it’s hard to differentiate the perfumes we use or lipstick. We love physical status symbols like cars and houses. With so little travel, it’s hard to show them off.
We love showing off the joints we frequent, from 5-star hotels to kiosks; we are now stuck at home. The drink we love, named after different colours of the rainbow, doesn’t matter anymore. We can add to the list. But Thorsten Veblen must be turning in his grave, his conspicuous consumption is now irrelevant. We are more concerned about one day at a time.
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One hopes the attenuation of status symbols has humbled us, making us more conscious of inequality, our mortality and to be poetical or religious, reflect on our purpose on this small planet, as IBM used to call it.
Covid-19 has forced us to see the world in a different perspective. It has more abundance than we thought. The list of necessities is shorter. Life can be simple but more importantly, is made pleasant by other people who we sometimes think are a nuisance.
We found in the first one month of lockdown that prisons are not that homely. We hope the feeling of isolation has necessitated prison reforms.
Covid-19 has taken us back to the basics. We can now reboot our social-economic systems and even our philosophical orientation. We should think deeper of our economic system taking cognizance of our interactions and unexpected events like a pandemic.
Who knows out of this pandemic, a more equitable and just world could emerge. And a happier one too. It would be tragic if the world does not learn from this tragedy.