Looking Ahead to 2021: The Things We’ll Carry Forward
Right now, I’m thinking about how my life changed in 2020. Not so much in the sweeping and upending ways. More in the little ways. I’m thinking about the coping ways. The cobble-it-all-together ways. The little changes to make things work ways. There were plenty. Now, with the first doses of vaccine going to those who need it most, I find myself wondering which of those little changes from 2020 will carry over into post-pandemic days.
One thing I do know, central to many of those changes was the internet.
The little things meant a lot
For starters, I now have a chocolatier in my home. That’s courtesy of the online Master Classes my husband and I took—his course of study being chocolate making. (We’ll see how he tops that in 2021. Chocolate sets a pretty high bar.) Would we have taken our respective classes otherwise? Hard to say. But I will say this—it was a comfort.
I know that ordering my mother’s groceries online so she could avoid going into the store and stay safe was new. And through working online, I feel like I got invited into my team members’ homes where I had the pleasure of meeting their spouses, children and pets. Also, while I could not travel like I wanted to, I could still go exploring with virtual tours of the world’s great museums plus catch a few great dive sites without getting wet. Those were all unique to 2020 as well.
I count myself fortunate that I had those options available to me, as many people simply did not—whether because a lack of connectivity held them back, or their working situations simply could not make the jump to online. With that, I think of the essential workers, the first responders, the medical professionals of all walks, and the people who kept our communities going by being on the front lines of this pandemic. We all owe them so much, both now and moving forward.
The internet helped us live our lives in 2020
Yet where possible, the internet responded, in the best way that it could. For those of us who saw our work, studies, and livelihoods shift online, the internet proved that it could step in. It’s been far from ideal, of course. The internet is simply no substitute for us working and being together, yet it helped so many of us face the challenges of 2020. Even if we didn’t use the internet for work or school, it helped us find employment, get care by way of telemedicine, and keep in touch thanks to free video conferencing, just to name a few things.
Put plainly, the internet helped us live our lives this year. And out of necessity, it re-shaped the way we live our lives too. So, without question, I can see some of little changes I made carrying over. My husband and I will take more Master Classes. I like the idea of helping my mom with the shopping when I can’t be with her. And I’ll keep exploring, even while that means restricting it to online for now. I’m sure you can count think of a few examples of your own too—things that made your life a little better this year and that can make the years to come better too.
Some of the big changes ahead in 2021
Looking beyond my own homestead, I’m hoping that 2021 will prompt broader, and immensely positive, changes as part of lessons learned from 2020.
With regards to internet access, this year has underscored the internet’s role as an essential utility. It’s no longer a luxury. I predict we’ll see renewed energy in public and private partnerships that will connect more people to fixed broadband internet connections so that they can benefit from the same professional, educational, and personal opportunities that the rest of us on broadband already enjoy.
During the election year here in the U.S., there’s been plenty of conversation about the propagation of disinformation and misinformation on the internet, both by bad actors and by the unwitting parties who fall prey to their falsehoods. We covered the topic extensively in our election blogs, and I believe the ability to critically assess what we see and read on the internet is a major issue of our time, whether it’s an election year or not. Disinformation and misinformation online are here to stay, and there’s an opportunity for schools to introduce instruction on smart media consumption as part of their curriculums.
And, what about working from home? Will it become a new norm for business in some shape or other? Working from home remains a complicated conversation, as a mix of public health concerns, local mandates, and stark financial realities drove that shift to remote workforces in the first place. Now, similar questions arise as communities and economies recover. Companies will make strategic decisions about their properties, people, and how they all work together—not to mention how they ensure personal and corporate security in a remote workplace setting. If we use major outdoor retailer REI as one example, we’ll see that the answers are nuanced—particularly when the end result means selling a newly built and never-used corporate headquarters like REI did.
A stronger and greater 2021
To bring it all back home, let’s see what’s worth carrying forward into 2021. We learned a multitude of hard lessons in 2020, and we pulled off plenty of clever moves in response. As much as we’d like to put 2020 behind us, let’s take a moment to pause and consider where some of the silver linings were and see if we can spin them into something stronger and greater in 2021.
And on a personal note I would like to end 2020 and start 2021 expressing my gratitude for the frontline workers, teachers and humanitarians who place service to society above all else. We have heroes in our midst and that is something to celebrate!
Happy New Year!
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