Midlife Strategies

How Covid Changed Us: New Traditions That Await Us in the New Year 2021

Every society has its own culture and customs. But everyone's traditions will take on a digital avatar in coming years post-pandemic, and why not?

By Kay Newton

Traditions are ways of conveying customs or beliefs from generation to generation. Every society has its specific cultural nuances based on the past. In 2020, the world stopped due to Covid-19. Now new Western traditions are appearing that may continue far beyond 2021.

As we move into a New Year and technology changes the world at an ever-faster pace, we can expect traditions to diversify too. Here are a few ideas about changes to expect in the coming years.

Online Celebrations

2020 changed the way we celebrated special occasions – christenings, birthdays, weddings and funerals. Not able to meet in large groups or family gatherings, we postponed, cancelled or turned to the internet.

As we powered up our mobile phones and laptops, it became apparent that meagre quality and unreliable networks needed an upgrade urgently. New live streaming celebration rituals appeared overnight. We dressed for the occasion from the waist up, kissed the computer screens, and sent pretend hugs.

Wedding companies that have moved their business online are expecting continuous growth even when Covid-19 is no longer a threat. Online means everyone can be on the guest list, as there are no worries with travel restrictions or costs involved. For many young couples, it is the only way to go.

Christmas and New Year celebrations are also moving from traditional practices of home decorations and food choices to simple, sensibly selfish ways. Dubbed the orphans’ Christmas, as families will be apart, there are still positives to celebrate: the time and money saved, the ability to stay in bed all day, eat your own food choices, and watch what you want on TV.

Robotic Retail

The tradition of physically going out to buy goods was no longer an option during lockdown, and consumerism moved online. Whether it was to upgrade the garden, decorate the house or start a new hobby, it was all delivered to the door. For the consumer to achieve their expectations, and have access to everything (even toilet rolls 24/7), retail has had to change.

Local micro-fulfilment centres, automated warehouse systems, and the use of robots to improve efficiency in cleaning and taking inventories are on the increase.

Shopping online will also change the landscape of inner cities and how we use them, combined with working from home.

Lockdown also created a contrary movement to consumerism, an antithesis to spending just for the sake of it. Backed by the uncertainty of the future, there is a growing trend to buy what is needed, to opt for eco-friendly goods and from local services where possible. ‘Repair, reuse, recycle’ is an old tradition with modern implications.

Going to Work

The old images of rush hour, crammed public transport and the commute became distant memories. For the privileged who could work from home, the traditional work-life balance changed overnight.

Increased employee productivity, a reduction in the cost of real estate to the employer and less pollution from commuters are all positives. Major companies are seeing the benefit. Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft have announced that workers can choose to work from home indefinitely. Some companies are also offering mini-grants for home-office improvements, yoga/meditation classes and online social events for their staff.

Yet, there are disadvantages mainly around company values and culture. No one is quite sure how work will look in the future. As the threat of Covid-19 decreases, going to the office will not be so daunting, although it may look different: fewer people, more open spaces, and the obligatory hand gels.

Visiting the Doctor

2020 saw a shift from traditional doctor visits to online consultations. Online services reduce the workload on staff, who therefore make fewer mistakes. When the patient has access to their medical records, it increases knowledge and patient confidence. Health can move safely and securely from institutions to individuals with the use of secure blockchain technologies.

The general public is now aware that a healthy immune system is a paramount defence to Covid-19. As demand increases for nutrition, the global food industry will also change and, in doing so, change the medical industry.

Preventative health begins by incentives for people to take care of themselves. In turn, it reduces unsustainable costs on the healthcare industry. It is becoming general practice to receive health insurance discounts if you wear a fitness tracker. Whether it will be daily care or the way we act towards pandemic scares, converging technologies will alter both economic and social traditions.

As we move into 2021, we will decide what traditions are important. Today’s youth will offer fresh perspectives on old ideas. If the tradition still works, it will live on, and if it doesn’t, there’s probably a reason for its demise.

Kay Newton is an award-winning speaker, writer and midlife strategist. Follow her on KayNewton.com.

Photographs: Pixabay. First published in eShe’s December 2020 issue

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