The outbreak of pandemic COVID-19 in 2020 was not only unexpected but also a surprise for the world. The COVID-19 has deep long-lasting impact on every sphere of life extending from social to cultural and economic spheres. As this is highly contagious disease, social distancing is in the crux of solution to this whole crisis. This has changed the social norms on one hand and the economic rules on the other. Compulsory behavioral change, dictated by this pandemic, have altered our prevailing socio-economic norms, politics and culture. It would have long-lasting impact on our culture, social fabric and economy.
We are social beings and intermingling is an inseparable part of human behaviour. Infact, our socio economic existence is indebted to our collaboration that results from socializing. It is difficult to observe social distancing and follow preventive anti-social measures like ‘rule of six feet and wearing masks’ etc. and as such this is reluctantly accepted by larger part of the population without any geographic exception. As this was unprecedented in the recent history for a pandemic to be so global that no part of the world was an exception. The only difference was that of the intensity of the pandemic and internal immunity of the people of the respective areas. The Spanish flu was also a similar pandemic of the last century, but its impact was not as intense and global as is of COVID-19. Moreover, the coordinated global response, especially that of World Health Organization (WHO), to tackle this contagion is also extraordinary.
This behavioral impact of COVID-19 is so grave that it is rightly said that world would not be the same as it was before the outbreak this pandemic. The pandemic would have short-term, mid-term and long-term consequences radically changing every domain of life. However, its impact on media and communication, socio-cultural, political and economic spheres is expected to significantly change the lifestyle across the world.
The outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent preventive measures especially the social distancing have adversely effected the economy both at micro and macro levels. Asian Development Bank (ADB) apprehends the global economy to shrink by 2.3% to 4.8%. As per UNCTAD prediction Global Foreign Direct Investment can shrink by 5%-15%. Pakistan is also not an exception to this. The disease has comparatively low impact on Pakistan if we talk in terms of number of people affected and resulting mortalities. Still the economic meltdown is severe. Pakistan had negative GDP growth after 1952. The government had to increase taxes and withdraw subsidies to ensure the sufficient revenues. The manufacturing sector and small business have both suffered business contraction due to this disease. Mass layouts and closures have affected the common persons who lost their jobs. Daily wagers and laborersare among those who took the major brunt.
Social & cultural
The doctors and the virologists have suggested social distancing as the most effective preventive measure to guard against COVID-19. This has drastic bearing on the social and cultural norms. The physical distancing and restrictions on gatherings have changed our lifestyle. We are developing different shopping habits, working style and socializing trends. Shaking hands and hugging your dear ones is becoming a practice of the past. Online shopping is the new normal now. All the companies are forced to opt work from home as a solution to this social distancing during this pandemic. The success of the work from home has tempted the employers to further explore the possibilities of extending this work from home trend and it seems like to stay even after this disease is over. Companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter are considering work from home as a permanent approach to reduce costs and convenient for their employees resulting in increased productivity.
Media & communication:
Mostly the people stayed at home as a preventive measure during COVID-19. In terms of the audience, the TV and Radio witnessed the historic increase. However, due to business contraction during COVID-19, most of the major brands restricted their advertising budget. This resulted in poor financial health of various media channels. Print media and cinema industry is suffering the most and their very existence has come under threat. Digital media seems to be a beneficiary of this social distancing rule. Video and music streaming and downloads and online publications have seen a boost and fared well. Remote work and online education is expected to create demand for products and services offered by digital media.
The uncertainty created by COVID-19 would have a lasting impact on globalization. The concept of global village looks to be a major casualty of this pandemic. This has given rise to anti-globalization advocating protectionism and closed borders due to fear of foreigners. Such apprehensions are fanning fears of pandemic spread trying to legitimize restrictions on global trade and inflow of people.
To sum up, I would say that the global crises caused by this COVID-19 pandemic would have deep impact on every aspect of our daily life including social, political, cultural, economic, and legal spheres. The world would not soon be the same as it was before this pandemic. Economic meltdown, joblessness, income erosion would profoundly change the entire global framework in the short run having long-term consequences. The world has started working on reengineering the everyday processes to subside the emerging threats of COVID-19. The major challenge for the world is to take this COVID-19 as an opportunity to fasten the cooperation helping the poor and deprived nations to come out of this crisis successfully. Else, this pandemic can drive the underdeveloped and even some developing countries into deeper depression, further strengthening inequalities and disparities especially in economic and education sector.
One can gauge the politicization of the pandemic by listening to the President Donald Trump’s speech of September 23, 2020 in the General Assembly of the United Nations. President of the US has accused China of spreading COVID-19 demanding an action by UN against China. As such, this pandemic can be used as a political tool to turn the prevailing cold war into hot war if not properly addressed by the global leaders and the United Nations.