Two weekends ago, the first one in which Corona had taken over the reigns of our everyday life, my wife said one of those sentences that you first stumble over and then don't forget: "There's a lot of time coming". They were casual words, spoken spontaneously and carelessly. They almost slipped by. But then they became so true and certain, she could only have found them in the future. Why the time after Corona will be good.
"There is a lot of time coming".
When she said that about Corona, during the kitchen conversation with a view out of the window, these kind words passed me by as randomly and incidentally as some passerby on Saturdays on Mehringdamm. They all have faces, too. But which ones? Most of them are forgotten before I could have seen them.
My wife's sentence was also an unknown parvenu. But he had a face of 7 words that spoke to me. They call in a reflex, in a tiny moment at the dressing room, in the last possible millisecond before forgetting, to look, absolutely. Wait a minute... what did you say?
"There's a lot of time coming up."
The random sentence stops, turns and looks at you. His gaze is so open and deep that it connects. With what? The sentence is simply true. It is as true as something can be true. Familiarity sets in, which is still homeless. Do we know each other? From where? I am the certainty, I am your tomorrow. We have always known each other, we just didn't know it.
"There is a lot of time coming" - can it be described more aptly what those who are now, fortunately, not ill, are experiencing?
Time does not exist physically at all. It is a pure construct, it is the pure passing. It is emptiness, which wants to be filled by us. And now also MUCH time comes on us. What to fill it with, if it has to be other than the usual things and rituals under contact ban and short-time work? No shopping, no work, no distraction in virtual and real groups of like-minded people. What to do?
"What am I going to do with my time now?"
This question is a personal challenge for all and sundry. Finding an answer that is not empty is not easy. Finding another answer with each passing day, certainly not easier. But, honestly, is it that hard? Really no idea? Maybe go for a walk?
Whatever the answers, it is certain that everyone will find their own and very personal answers during these days. It is also certain that among these answers there will be many that are not empty. The answers will have content and they will fill a lot of time. With new questions and insights that are important. With actions and ideas that fulfill - for the first time, perhaps.
We have before us very open, very transformative and profound days. They create opportunities for all who are not attacked by the virus, and many will take advantage of them.
Let's look forward to the progress we don't yet know. The following text by Matthias Horx shows what it could look like.
Music on the balconies!
That's the future.
48 - The world after Corona
Note: This text may be freely reprinted with credit to: www.horx.com and www.zukunftsinstitut.de.
I am often asked at the moment when Corona will "be over" and everything will return to normal. My answer: never. There are historical moments when the future changes direction. We call them bifurcations. Or deep crises. These times are now.
The world as we know it is just dissolving. But behind it, a new world is coming together, the shaping of which we can at least guess at. For this purpose, I would like to offer you an exercise with which we have had good experience in visioning processes in companies. We call it the RE-Gnosis. In contrast to the PRO-Gnosis we do not look "into the future" with this technique. But rather from the future BACK into today. Sounds crazy? Let's give it a try:
The Re-Gnosis: Our World in Autumn 2020
Let's imagine a situation in the fall, let's say in September 2020. We are sitting in a sidewalk cafe in a big city. It's warm, and people are moving on the street again. Are they moving differently? Is everything the same as before? Does the wine, the cocktail, the coffee, taste the same again? Like it did before Corona?
Or even better?
What will we wonder about in retrospect?
We will be surprised that the social renunciations we had to make rarely led to loneliness. On the contrary. After an initial shock, many were even relieved that all the running, talking and communicating on multi-channels suddenly came to a halt. Renunciations do not necessarily have to mean loss, but can even open up new spaces of possibility. Many people have experienced this, for example, when they tried interval fasting - and suddenly found that food tasted good again. Paradoxically, the physical distance that the virus forced created new closeness at the same time. We got to know people we would never have met otherwise. We reconnected with old friends more frequently, strengthened ties that had become loose and looser. Families, neighbors, friends, have moved closer and sometimes even resolved hidden conflicts.
Social politeness, which we increasingly lacked before, increased.
Now in the fall of 2020, the atmosphere at football matches is very different from that in the spring, when there were plenty of mass rage mobs. We wonder why that is.
We will be surprised how quickly cultural techniques of the digital suddenly proved themselves in practice. Teleconferencing and videoconferencing, which most colleagues had always resisted (the business plane was better), turned out to be quite practical and productive. Teachers learned a lot about Internet teaching. The home office became second nature to many - including the improvising and time-juggling involved.
At the same time, seemingly outdated cultural techniques experienced a renaissance. Suddenly, you didn't just catch the answering machine when you called, but real people. The virus spawned a new culture of long-distance calling without a second screen. Even the "messages" themselves suddenly took on a new meaning. People were really communicating again. No one was kept on tenterhooks anymore. People were no longer stalling. A new culture of accessibility emerged. Of commitment.
People who had never been able to rest for the hectic pace of life, including young people, suddenly went for long walks (a word that had previously been rather foreign). Reading books suddenly became a cult.
Reality shows suddenly seemed grotty. All the trivia trash, the endless soul garbage that streamed through all the channels. No, it didn't disappear completely. But it lost value furiously.
Can anyone still remember the political correctness controversy? The endless cultural wars over ... well, what was it all about?
Crises work above all by dissolving old phenomena, by making them superfluous...
Cynicism, that casual way of keeping the world at bay through devaluation, was suddenly very much out.
The exaggeration-fear hysteria in the media, after a short initial outbreak, was kept within limits.
Along the way, the endless flood of gruesome crime series also reached its tipping point.
We will be surprised to learn that drugs were finally found in the summer that increased the survival rate. This lowered the death rates and Corona became a virus that we just have to deal with - much like the flu and the many other diseases. Medical advances helped. But we also learned: It wasn't so much the technology, but the change in social behaviors that mattered. The fact that people were able to remain in solidarity and constructive despite radical limitations was the deciding factor. Human-social intelligence helped. By contrast, the much-vaunted artificial intelligence, which is known to be able to solve everything, has had only limited effect in the matter of Corona.
This has shifted the relationship between technology and culture. Before the crisis, technology seemed to be the panacea, the bearer of all utopias. Today, no one - or only a few die-hards - still believe in the great digital salvation. The big technology hype is over. We are focusing our attention more on the human questions: What is the human being? What are we to each other?
We marvel backward at how much humor and humanity actually emerged in the days of the virus.
We will be surprised how far the economy could shrink without something like "collapse" actually happening, which was previously invoked with every little tax increase and government intervention. Although there was a "black April," a deep economic slump and a stock market collapse of 50 percent, although many companies went bankrupt, shrank or mutated into something completely different, it never came to zero. As if the economy were a breathing being that can also doze or sleep and even dream.
Today in the fall, there is a global economy again. But global just-in-time production, with huge branching value chains that cart millions of individual parts across the planet, has outlived its usefulness. It is being dismantled and reconfigured. Intermediate storage facilities, depots, reserves are growing again everywhere in the production and service facilities. Local production is booming, networks are being localized, craftsmanship is experiencing a renaissance. The global system is drifting in the direction of gloKALization: localization of the global.
We will be surprised that even the wealth losses from the stock market collapse don't hurt as much as it felt at the beginning. In the new world, wealth suddenly no longer plays the decisive role. More important are good neighbors and a flourishing vegetable garden.
Could it be that the virus changed our lives in a direction it wanted to change anyway?
RE-Gnosis: Coping with the Present by Leaping into the Future
Why does this kind of "from the future" scenario seem so irritatingly different from a classic forecast? This has to do with the specific characteristics of our sense of the future. When we look "into the future," we usually only see the dangers and problems "coming toward us," piling up into insurmountable barriers. Like a locomotive from the tunnel, which runs over us. This fear barrier separates us from the future. That's why horror futures are always the easiest to portray.
Re-gnoses, on the other hand, form a cognition loop in which we include ourselves, our inner change, in the future calculation. We connect ourselves inwardly with the future, and this creates a bridge between today and tomorrow. A "Future Mind" - future-awareness is created.
When done correctly, something like future intelligence emerges. We are able to anticipate not only the external "events" but also the internal adaptations with which we react to a changed world.
This already feels quite different from a prognosis, which in its apodictic character always has something dead, sterile about it. We leave the rigidity of fear and get back into the liveliness that belongs to every true future.
We all know the feeling of successful fear overcoming. When we go to the dentist for treatment, we are anxious well in advance. We lose control in the dentist's chair and it hurts before it even hurts. Anticipating this feeling, we build up into anxiety that can completely overwhelm us. However, once we get through the procedure, the coping feeling sets in: the world seems young and fresh again and we are suddenly full of zest for action.
Coping means overcoming. Neurobiologically, fear adrenaline is replaced by dopamine, a kind of endogenous future drug. While adrenaline directs us to flee or fight (which is not really productive in the dentist's chair, nor when fighting Corona), dopamine opens our brain synapses: We're excited about what's coming, curious, anticipatory. When we have a healthy level of dopamine, we make plans, we have visions that propel us into anticipatory action.
Surprisingly, many in the Corona crisis have exactly this experience. A massive loss of control suddenly turns into a real rush of positivity. After a period of bewilderment and fear, an inner strength emerges. The world "ends," but in the experience that we are still there, a kind of new-ness within emerges.
In the middle of the shutdown of civilization, we walk through forests or parks, or across almost empty squares. But this is not an apocalypse, but a new beginning.
Thus it turns out: Change begins as a changed pattern of expectations, of perceptions and world connections. At the same time, it is sometimes precisely the break with routines, the familiar, that releases our sense of the future. The idea and certainty that everything could be completely different - even better.
We may even be surprised to see Trump voted out in November. The AFD is showing serious signs of fraying because vicious, divisive politics do not fit with a Corona world. In the Corona crisis, it became clear that those who want to turn people against each other have nothing to contribute to real issues about the future. When things get serious, the destructive nature that resides in populism becomes clear.
Politics in its original sense as the shaping of social responsibilities gave this crisis a new credibility, a new legitimacy. Precisely because it had to act "authoritatively," politics created trust in society. Science, too, experienced an astonishing renaissance during the probation crisis. Virologists and epidemiologists became media stars, but "futurist" philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, who had previously been on the fringes of polarized debates, also regained voice and weight.
Fake news, on the other hand, rapidly lost market value. Even conspiracy theories suddenly seemed like slow sellers, although they were offered like sour beer.
A virus as an evolution accelerator
Deep crises also point to another basic principle of change: The trend-countertrend synthesis.
The new world after Corona - or rather with Corona - is emerging from the disruption of the megatrend connectivity. In political-economic terms, this phenomenon is also called "globalization". However, the disruption of connectivity - through border closures, separations, compartmentalizations, quarantines - does not lead to an abolition of connections. Rather, it leads to a reorganization of the connectomes that hold our world together and carry it into the future. There is a phase jump of the socio-economic systems.
The world to come will value distance again - and precisely because of this, shape connectedness more qualitatively. Autonomy and dependence, opening and closing, will be rebalanced. As a result, the world can become more complex, but at the same time more stable. This reshaping is largely a blind evolutionary process - because one thing fails, the new, capable of survival, prevails. This makes you dizzy at first, but then it proves its inner meaning: what is viable for the future is that which connects the paradoxes on a new level.
But this process of complexification - not to be confused with complication - can also be consciously shaped by people. Those who can do this, who speak the language of the coming complexity, will be the leaders of tomorrow. The hopefuls to come. The coming Gretas.
"We will adjust our entire attitude toward life through Corona - in terms of our existence as living beings in the midst of other life forms."
Slavo Zizek at the height of the Corona crisis in mid-March.
Every deep crisis leaves behind a story, a narrative that points far into the future. One of the strongest visions left behind by the corona virus is Italians playing music on balconies. The second vision is sent to us by satellite images that suddenly show the industrial areas of China and Italy free of smog. In 2020, mankind's CO&sub2;emissions will fall for the first time. This fact will do something to us.
If the virus can do something like that - can we possibly do it too? Maybe the virus was just a messenger from the future. Its drastic message is: human civilization has become too dense, too fast, too overheated. It is racing too fast in a certain direction where there is no future.
But it can reinvent itself.
Music on the balconies!
That's how the future goes.