For more than a year, we have been talking about the ” world after “. After what? Apparently after the pandemic. And since we are starting to see the end of it, even if laboriously, it’s time to draw a line on this expression that really irritates me.
The world after exists…in our dreams
We all have dreams and ideals. Some of us believe in them, think they will come true, even if it’s difficult, and sometimes even that they can contribute to it. Others think that dreaming keeps hope alive and that it makes them feel good.
The world after is an easy way to project your dreams. A way to invent a world where things that are not possible in today’s world would be possible. We know, except for some idealists, that it will never happen but, once again, dreaming never hurts.
That’s in normal times. Because sometimes even the most rational people end up believing that the impossible can still happen. For example in a crisis.
By definition the crisis was unpredictable, it could not happen, some would say, and yet it did happen. So why shouldn’t other impossible things happen as well? And if we don’t take advantage of the moment when everything is broken to rebuild in a different way, we won’t be likely to do so at other times.
But here’s the thing…
In the end, everything eventually falls apart
There are things that don’t change. At some point everything can be thrown up in the air, if you take a picture at that moment you will have the impression that everything is levitating but in the end everything falls back down. It’s called the law of gravity and nobody can change it.
So yes things fall back, sometimes broken, sometimes in different places but they fall back.
A year ago the tech giants announced that unlimited remote work would become the norm. They were the first to call employees back to the office.
The “Whatever it takes” to sustain the economy? Indispensable. But it will have to be paid back.
A more human business? Leaders are not counting on HR to build the so-called business of tomorrow. Thanks anyway for playing the fireman during the crisis.
The end of air transport? The scrapping of some very large aircraft will mechanically increase flight frequencies during the recovery. And Airbus will manufacture more planes in 2023 than in 2019! And as for the end of business travel, the prediction that it will resume as soon as a business loses a client or prospect because it has not travelled to meet them face to face is already coming true.
Relocate? Any production can be relocated. On the other hand, some goods will never find a market if they are produced at “Western” costs.
The pandemic taught us the limits of a world that wanted to go too fast? It is to go even faster to adapt that has allowed businesses, countries, people, to fight against it.
Like gravity, there are laws that cannot be avoided. Human nature and to a large extent the fundamentals of the economy are part of it.
So yes, things will be different tomorrow than they were two years ago, but they can never be free of certain rules. Like when there is turbulence in an airplane: the contents of your glass may fall back into the glass in question, onto your tray, onto your lap or onto the lap of the person next to you, but it will fall back.
Tomorrow is always different
The world will be different, but is this new? That the crisis has played a role in accelerating certain dynamics is undeniable, although, as we have seen with remote work, there is nothing to say that, after having made great strides forward, we will not take many small ones backwards.
With every passing second the world is different. Every second we ourselves are different. It’s so imperceptible that we don’t realize it. We don’t see anything change but the seconds accumulate, become minutes, hours, days, years and a day and we have to admit that physically, intellectually, morally, we are not the same as we were 10 years ago and that the world has changed in 10 years. Crisis or not.
Nothing annoys me more than hearing “nothing will ever be the same again”: not only because it’s a bit like hoping that dreams will magically come true, but especially because at some point nothing is ever the same. Between the beginning and the end of the writing of this article, some people were born, others left us, somewhere someone may have made an invention that will change the world or created a business, a high school student has decided between two study paths and maybe this choice will have an impact on our lives tomorrow. All of this happened without us realizing it.
To say that nothing will ever be the same is either believing in Santa Claus or stating the obvious. In both cases it is without much interest.
The world after is right now
But to come back to the next world, it is illusory to imagine that at a certain horizon things will change suddenly as if by magic. It is only the result of what we live, decide and do second after second. It is not something that will emerge one day, it is what we do every second and every minute. There is no next world, there are only things that we decide to do now.
But it’s true, dreaming always feels good even if it doesn’t make things happen.