Two years ago I wrote about the new normal of work, citing a Citi Global Perspectives & Solutions report that had just been published. The major trends identified in the report included observations such as evidence that in cities more likely to vote for Donald Trump, there were fewer jobs that can be done remotely. Much of the focus was on the impact of working from anywhere and the decline in air travel. Citi’s Chief Learning Officer discussed the company’s investments in learning technologies, collaboration technologies, and improved meeting practices — the latter which I had discussed in bloody meetings.
I concluded that most people would like the option to work from home, most of the time. Many workers have tasted it, and in spite of the challenges of being forced into distributed work — they like it. Now that everyone is familiar with video conferencing we can also see that in many workplaces — zoom is not the problem, meetings are.
Today we are seeing a significant increase in air travel, while the effects of the climate crisis, such as blistering heat waves and enormous floods, continue to grow. The appetite for returning to ‘normal’ includes more employers demanding people return to the office and the majority of people discarding their face masks in spite of several airborne viruses crippling health care systems around the world.
I did not think that more than two years after the pandemic was declared that almost every society would be dominated by collective stupidity. There are almost no public health measures in place in most countries. Many offices and schools have not improved ventilation and air filtration, continuing as if it’s 2019. A majority of people dine indoors, attend indoor concerts, or collectively gather in churches, without any airborne infection mitigations. Public health authorities tell us to be careful, but no measures are in place. As social beings, when we see the majority without masks, many of us follow suit. At the same time, many parts of the private sector are seeing record profits.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” —Upton Sinclair
Our new normal is that human stupidity is now obvious, and most people are just fine with that — stupid is, as stupid does. Meanwhile, the earth continues to burn.