It’s very strange times. I’ve taken travel for granted. For years, I’ve been used to open borders, easy connectivity and access to airports. The internet then fuelled that ease of movement and connectivity. Suddenly, via social media, my friends are in Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Mumbai, Lagos, Paris, Milan, New York, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo … everywhere.
Me, myself, I, moved to Warsaw for this reason. I’m living in Poland because, like everyone, I think the world is small. During my lifetime, we’ve seen the death of distance. Everything and everyone is connected and the world has become one place.
How wrong were we?
The thing that this pandemic is bringing home to all of us is that if you remove access to free movement, you’re left with your next-door neighbour. The world has not globalised. Shut down the trains, planes and borders, and you’re left with nothing but your family and friends. If you can see them.
A world where we are telling people to self-isolate for months seems ridiculous. It feels like something out of a scary movie. But it’s here and it’s now. Right here, right now.
Some people must be happy about this moment. Greta Thunberg and the whole Extinction Rebellion movement must be having a party. Air travel is closed, factories are closed, business is closed. The planet is self-correcting for a while. Maybe the temperature of Earth will come down for a while. That’s a good thing … but most people don’t think it’s a good thing.
In fact, most people don’t like it. I’ve had thoughts that are bad. I haven’t shared them, but they go something along the lines of if you have a small percentage of over 60s who die, is that as bad as the suicide rate of the people going out of business because of the pandemic measures? Oh dear, I posted that?
Well, I wouldn’t have posted that if I hadn’t seen the reaction to the pandemic and an email sent to all employees by one American tech CEO, stating that what we should be doing is quarantining the elderly and allowing the rest of us to get on with our lives.
There is some logic to that.
In light of all of this, talking about digital transformation, FinTech, banking and such like, seems almost irrelevant. I find it hard to motivate myself to focus on business as usual when the world is unravelling. The global links and easy movement that is my lifestyle, and yours, has gone.
Until recently, I thought that I was a global citizen. I now realise, I’m not. I’m just a guy living in Poland with the usual frailties of life.
Like a rug being pulled from your life, the world has just changed. I’ll never again take a flight for granted, a meeting as usual, a life of easy things. Nothing is easy. Life is hard. That’s the lesson we’re all learning here.
In fact, in moments of reflection, I’ve often thought it seems exceptional to have lived for so long without hardship. Without war. Without challenge. What is your hardship? Paying the mortgage and going down the pub?
Well, that’s changed hasn’t it?
Now is that time. President Macron of France compared this moment to war. We are in a war-time like moment. I think we are. Therefore, lock down your house, hug your family, enjoy being at home for a while, and hope that this gets sorted out sooner or later … sooner being preferred.