The new coronavirus has brought many changes to our lives. I do not think that we’ll ever go back to the way things used to be, as I once hoped. I think that there will be a new normal. What might that look like? Many things are changing. I believe that there are three things that could really change and do both good and bad things for us.
The first thing is education, and colleges in particular. College, in my opinion, has been suffering from having too many people that go there to continue high school, have some parties, and delay their entry into having to be responsible. Now, I have not been to college, but I have looked at some, and the fact that the “party scene” is an actual rating is somewhat disturbing. Also, because the government subsidizes college loans, almost everyone goes to college, which drives down the value of a college degree. The last and most important thing is the invention of the Internet. This puts all the information of the world at anybody’s fingertips. If you can sift through false information, then you hardly need to go into debt for the better part of your life just so you can learn from an “accredited” source. Think about math. You can only lie so much about math on the Internet. So, why do you need a professor? You might have to work harder to do it on your own, but it is a lot cheaper.
These problems were all there before coronavirus hit. But it has brought them to the light. With distance learning, people are realizing that they are getting only slightly better or more formal education than watching a YouTube video. They don’t get to talk to the professor, and they don’t get the party life. Some people are thriving in this environment. Some are not. This shows that college is itself not required for learning. Only the information is, regardless of the source. Academia is a powerful force, but I think the world will awaken to the reality of higher education eventually, perhaps sooner than we think.
Education is also changing at the lower levels. Distance learning looks as if it is going to eradicate snow days in New Hampshire, as that will be used instead of giving the students a day off.
This pandemic has been good for some things. It is forcing families to spend time together again. Previous to this, the family had been declining, to the detriment of Western Civilization. Almost 50% of families look at homeschooling more favorably now, according to some polls. Many of these families have found out about the greatest, most important secret that is kept: the intelligence of the U.S. is going down. We are a far cry from teaching algebra in fifth grade, as they did in the 1800’s. Now, it is a nasty secret that nearly 14% of American young adults are “functionally illiterate,” according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This covers people who are “able to locate easily identifiable information in short, commonplace prose text, but nothing more advanced.” This information once more comes from the National Center of Education Statistics. This is a travesty. The school system encourages it, because you can’t fail. This is the secret. No matter how bad you do, you cannot fail. You might have to do summer school, you might have special education courses, but you can’t fail.
This is where distance learning is showing that some kids can thrive in the homeschool environment. That is to say, where they can sit at a desk, alone, listen to music, and work without having to worry about anything but themselves. Some people need the social interaction, but those that don’t are going to have a rude awakening when they come back and return to the bustle, and the tediously long school days. I never could figure out how public schools make school last so long.
That’s one thing that could change. The education system will change forever I think, and for the better. However, watch out for the colleges to release their “studies” disenchanting people with homeschool. They have already started, Harvard deriding the “religious extremists” and the “non-socially conforming people” that are homeschoolers. If people want to pull out of the system, the system will not let go easily. If people leave the schools, they will learn that they can learn everything on the Internet. If they do that, they will be disenchanted with colleges. This is not what colleges want. So they will fight.
Another thing that will change is Main Street. I shouldn’t say that it is changing, because main street small businesses were already declining. But, they are going to fall significantly now. I think that business will barely be able to survive economically due to the shutdown. But for those that do, who will go? Why go to the local department store to risk exposure to COVID when you could order from Home Depot? Why go to the bookstore or the clothes store, when you can order from Amazon? Soon, I think, the main street businesses will have to innovate, or they will have to go extinct, eliminating a memory that, while I have never lived, seems to be one of people knowing people in their town, and much more of the economy staying inside the town. It sounds like a good memory to me.
Amazon will grow. I know my family's Amazon orders have not gone down. If anything, they’ve gone up, as anything we can get from there, we get, rather than going to the local stores. And it’s usually cheaper, too. Amazon is reaching critical mass. They are either going to become a power, or the government is going to break them up. Amazon does good things for the people. No Amazon agents came up to our door and made us purchase Amazon, we bought stuff from them freely. We got them because they are cheaper, and more convenient. So, is Amazon growing a bad thing? They have been paying people well in this pandemic, engendering loyalty to the company. Amazon has cut out the middle man of UPS and FedEx, and now delivers its own products. Soon, we’ll have drones delivering our packages. A natural monopoly is not a bad thing. If a company doesn’t have government benefits, and simply beats its competitors, then it is a good thing. It must keep its prices low in order to keep competition from springing up. That is good. I think that an Amazon natural monopoly is better than the government taxing it to death. Because if the government taxes it, Amazon’s prices must go up. Therefore, a tax on Amazon is a tax on all the people who purchase Amazon goods. I think that Amazon growing and Main Street declining is good for the economy, though it may not be good for the culture.
The culture will change. How people communicate with each other will change. I have not had a conversation with anyone outside of my family face to face since mid-March. That is two whole months. And yet I still play games with people, and still have lots of communication. I don’t want to give up face to face communication, but I can’t speak for the rest of my generation. Why do things with people you don’t agree with in town when you can find someone who perfectly matches your interests on the other side of the U.S.? The world may change and move towards this. The decline of Main Street and the changing of education both encourage this.
No one can predict how the world will change. I certainly can’t. I leave the information to you to sort out. There will be changes, some good and some bad. The world is always changing, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly. We all have the power to change our world, though it be like a raging river at times. Throw a rock in a river, and it alters the currents. Enough rocks, in the right places, and a whirlpool is bound to form.
Interesting idea about how doing college over the internet from the barnyard may save America by allowing rural values more of a chance to stand up to urban, polluted values.