A year into the New Normal: 3 Behavior Changes beyond Social Distancing and WFH that are here to stay

Photograph by Anish Dasgupta

2020 introduced us to something we referred to as the “New Normal”. The global pandemic changed the way we functioned at a very basic level. A year into the New Normal, we can see that it’s actually a lot more than just masking-up, social distancing and working-from-home. It’s become a way that we think and behave.

We’re embracing Minimalism

The recession due to COVID19 hit each and every economy. We lost jobs and took massive pay cuts. It forced us to re-look at our expenses and changed spending priorities — sending us in to a back-to-basics approach in terms of prioritizing our purchases. As consumers, ‘food’ and ‘shelter’ took precedence over lifestyle purchases. And even as lock-downs eased, this trend continues for a lot of consumers. Some are looking to get their earnings and/or savings back to pre-pandemic levels. Others have simply embraced the philosophy and continue regardless of what their income levels are.

This minimalism isn’t just about how much we own — but also about how much we can do for ourselves without depending on others. DIYs, recipes, up-cycling, and recycling have become the most watched content online. The lock-down taught us self-reliance. We learned skills we didn’t have and took pride in our creations.

We’re becoming a We-First culture

Political views shifted. There’s a rise in Nationalism across the world. There’s Brexit with Britain voting to remove itself from the European Union. There was former President Donald Trump’s MAGA campaign platform that saw the USA pulling its support from of numerous international development bodies. And, closer to home, there’s India’s ‘Vocal for Local’ movement that puts the spotlight once more on Make in India. Across the world, we’re seeing the implementation of We-first policies.

While some of these policies drew considerable ire, the truth is that none of them would have been implementable if the masses truly believed otherwise. As Consumers, we’re prioritizing helping our own first.

We’re creating our own safe space

The lock-down physically changed the world. It gave us a glimpse of a world with less pollution and put the spotlight on flora and fauna like never before. We became more environmentally aware. The urban real estate industry saw a change in living patterns with people swapping apartments for individual homes with gardens or farmhouses in suburbia. Families are spending more time maintaining a home. It’s an attempt to create a space for ourselves that allows us the freedom to enjoy the outdoors without actually going away from home.

While some argue that this is just a temporary state of affairs that will end with the pandemic, I’m of the view that regardless of when we come out on the other side of the pandemic, these behaviors will continue to shape our lives and lifestyles. Why? Because they say it takes between 18–254 days for a behavior to become a habit. And we’re well past that.

Nomad. Reads. Writes. Travels. Loves comics & photography. Part-time Pop culture analyst. Frequently goes 🤦🏻‍♂️.