Welcome back! This week we talk about: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly…
First, sorry I am posting late this week…it’s been a doozy – long story. Anyway…
Well, here we are – March 2021 – one year in COVID lock-down. Actually, I remember clearly it was March 17, 2020 when the folks at my “day job” sent us home to work telling us to expect 8-10 weeks of remote working due to the pandemic. Here we are just over a full year later and even though I retired from that job in December, the people I worked with are STILL working full time remotely.
So, as I look back over the last year and consider what the world looks like today, I have to ponder what has transpired through what maybe for some a different lens. When I was a kid, I remember a saying: In every dark cloud, there is a silver lining. I believe that is true, and I believe you can find good in just about any situation; whether that is learning a tough lesson, finding new hope or identifying something new, there is always something positive to come of it.
Without further ado, let’s take a look back over the last year and see if we can find: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Do you hear it? Wah-ee-ah-ee-ah…wah, wah, wah…).
Let’s start at the end and work our way back so we end on a positive note, shall we?
I could write this section using just two words: Politics and People. But I won’t. Let me expound.
Politics seem to ALWAYS be the ugly in this country for some reason. And in 2020, the politics of COVID were sometimes overshadowed by what was a very contentious Presidential Election. We won’t talk much about the election, it is “passed and opening” as we say in the navy. No longer a threat is another way to say it. But I do want to touch a bit on the politics of COVID and politics in general.
How do national elections really impact you?
Here’s the thing; especially at the national level, and even to a large part on the state level, the politics of the day have very little impact on our daily lives. Local politics is where I pay the most attention, because THAT is where there is an effect. It irks me when politicians politicize events to make themselves look better, usually at the expense of some other person or group. It is particularly irksome during a global pandemic when people just need to know the truth of what is going on to protect themselves, family and neighbors.
There are LIVES at stake!
The politics of COVID have been particularly ugly, likely thanks to the contentious election. People are getting sick, people are dying…this is not the time to take advantage of the situation to get people to give you money and get you into office. Now is the time for levelheaded, fact-based reporting so people can do what they need to do. The politics of COVID have been particularly ugly if just for the fact that the dichotomy of positions puts people at risk.
And the government in general?
Having been employed for many years (40 plus) by the Federal Government, one thing I know is that the government, the bureaucrats, need to look to the public as though they are knowledgeable and taking the appropriate actions – even when neither of those is true. Early on in the pandemic, government officials stated as fact thigs that were really no more than theories. Come on people…it’s fully OK to say, “This is what we know for sure, this is what we think, and this is what we have no clue about”. Our government never does that. We have much better information today than we did a year ago, and that early misinformation, in large part I believe, leads to the next “Ugly” thing: People.
I love individuals, but dislike people.
Have you heard the term “herd mentality”? Yeah, me too. And herd mentality SUCKS…especially since there are multiple herds all with different mentalities. It’s bothersome that there has not been clear, concise, truthful information about this pandemic (among other things. Some people still believe the earth is flat). I’ve seen people on my social media feeds who have been long-time friends arguing about transmission rates, death statistics and everything else about this disease. If it weren’t so serious, it would be comical.
For some, the death rate is 100%
Here’s the thing. The death rate for at-risk people who contracted this disease and passed away is 100%. Their families are dealing with it 100% of the time. It is horrifying to diminish the loss of those people by pointing out that overall the death rate is some smaller number. As I just googled the death rate in the US, it is true that out of the total population of roughly 331 Million people the death rate is just less than .2%. However, that statistic (remember, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics) compares everyone, even those who did not contract COVID, against the number of deaths (539, 659 as of the time of this writing). It’s a bit higher if you only look at the number of deaths compared to the people who HAVE contracted the disease (29, 664, 869). THAT number is TEN TIMES that national average at just under 2%. And the infection rate is just under 10%.
It seems small, but put another way…
While these numbers appear low, remember that they represent real lives and real families. 10% of the US population (and I am just focusing on the US here, the numbers are different world wide) is THIRTY MILLION PEOPLE. And the 2% of those people who died is just under 540, 000 people. The operative word here is” PEOPLE. Real people with families and friends they left behind.
For a given person…
Yeah, your chance of not getting COVID is greater than your chance of getting it (and I wonder what those odds would be WITHOUT mandated precautions? We’ll never know, so anything anyone says is conjecture). And your chance of dying if you do get it is pretty small as well, for those people who died from COVID, those small numbers mean absolutely nothing. Have some compassion people! There are more than half a million people suffering unimaginably and you are arguing about statistics. Stop, please. I hate the mask, and not being able to throw a whopper of a party, but I hate people dying even more. Wear the mask and distance yourself from others, if not specifically for YOU , for the people you come in contact with.
So, yeah, politics and people are the ugly part of the last year.
Many bad things happened this year. What follows are just the things I can think of off the top of my head, and I am sure there are many more.
The first thing that comes to mind is the social distancing aspect of this pandemic. Sure, no parties, no family gatherings…those are bad but not THAT bad. What is really bad is people going through rough times all alone. I think of the people I know who lost a loved one last year (not due to COVID) and who could not see them in the hospital in their final days. And then to add insult to injury their funerals and memorial services could not be attended. I know several people who are affected by this, you may as well, and many are putting off a memorial till the pandemic is over. It’s sad when a person’s life cannot be honored and celebrated as it should. It’s horrendous that some people have to go through hospital stays or being home bound without the physical support and encouragement of family and friends.
Bad for business…
Next, I consider how many small mom and pop businesses have had to close up shop as a result of the pandemic. So many, particularly public facing, businesses have closed, dashing the hopes and dreams of the proprietors. It is horrible to consider the people who worked and saved and worked some more to open their own business, only to have it ripped away by a virus you can’t even see. I sincerely hope at least some of the people in this situation can re-open and flourish once the pandemic is behind us.
This one is somewhat related to the last bad thing, and that is vacations. While things are now starting to open back up, with appropriate safeguards, places to go where you can unwind and take a break from the daily grind are still few and far between. I personally have had two vacations cancelled in 2020, and now our rescheduled cruise is rescheduled once again for 2022. I know…first world problems.
And so, here we are at the silver lining. What good came of this pandemic? Keep reading.
It goes without saying that the vaccine, which appears to be pretty effective, has been released (OK, not released in 2020, but developed in 2020 to allow release early in 2021). And that’s a good thing. But what is REALLY great is that the government pretty much got out of the way and let the scientists develop and release it quickly. Regardless of how you feel personally about vaccines in general, and what negative side effects they may have, I don’t think anyone can argue there is much empirical evidence that they facilitate herd immunity and reduce or remove altogether the odds of contracting a disease. Think of Polio, measles, mumps and more. My hope is that as they roll out the vaccine, conditions will improve to start getting things opened back up again.
One enormous thing we learned, and which I consider a good thing, is that corporations learned that much of the work they do can be done by their employees remotely, away from a traditional office. I know my former employer, the Federal Government, is considering sweeping changes to their telework policy to allow employees to work remotely a significant amount of time. In some cases, even allowing employees to move to a different location VERY remote from the office and work remotely full time.
Perhaps this will mean we need less dedicated office space (and therefore lower corporate costs) which could lead to lower prices for some goods and services (let’s hope) and maybe it means there will be a lot more empty office space (which means cheaper leases) for those who just get started after the pandemic. Only time will tell, but I consider this good.
Home based business…
Home based businesses have flourished in 2020. If you have a service or product that can be done from home and either delivered online or through the mail, chances are you have seen an increase in business this year. For me, I’ve had the opportunity to open a voice over business that is done completely online and from the comfort of my home. And while I see this as a “good” for me and others, there is also a lot more competition in the last year. Anyone thinking of getting into voice over had the perfect chance to get started in 2020. Maybe this one is two sides of the same coin.
The voice over industry had moved online long before the pandemic, but with COVID precautions in place at studios around the country, the online voice over industry has flourished. Where once large jobs were being recorded in professional studios by a small percentage of working artists, the big name, the industry has really opened up to allow lesser known artists to start competing for this work. While this area of voice over is much more competitive, I believe it has given some very talented, unknown people a chance to compete (and sometimes win!) with the big boys.
What about you?
If you have been negatively affected by COVID then I am sorry you are struggling right now and my hope is that things will brighten up for you soon. If you have experienced a positive affect then I am happy for you and hope that you recognize (and capitalize on) the opportunity to thrive in the face of so much bad.
In either case, I hope this post finds you well, and with luck, in line for the vaccine!
Now may be the time for you to start your own home-based business. If voice over seems to interest you, why not either check out my earlier blog posts or head over to Amazon and pick up my new book “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Getting Started in Voice Over But Didn’t Know Who to Ask”. Or, if you are being frugal, just subscribe to this blog and I’ll send you a link to a free copy!