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Commentary: Llewellyn King — After the Troubles are over, life will change

I’ve been in one big earthquake. It was years ago in Izmir, Turkey. As I stood in the garden of my hotel, the ground beneath my feet lapped like water in a waterbed.

Now I feel like the world is experiencing a prolonged earthquake. Life, metaphorically, is changing around us since the appearance of COVID-19 in 2020.

The pandemic, a major war in Europe, and the resulting shortages and inflation are the most measurable disruptions, but others are also contributing to the shake-up. They may be seen as aftershocks of the pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine, but they are earthquakes in themselves.

The very way we live is changing or is changing.

Consider these things that won’t go away, even after inflation subsides, after the war in Ukraine is resolved, and after supply chains are revitalized: the way we work has changed forever. There will be more remote work, virtual offices and empty office buildings; the same pressure of virtualization will extend to the workshop, as far as possible; the way we shop has changed and will continue to do so: more online shopping, fewer physical stores and malls converted to other uses. The days are numbered for yesterday’s department stores.

The way we receive medical care has changed: more than half of our doctor visits will be virtual; where we live is up for grabs. Virtual workers don’t need to live close to where they work. Summer houses become year-round dwellings.

What we drive will be different. If your next car isn’t electric, the next one will be. The same goes for anything that moves, from lawn mowers to buses and trucks.

A sartorial collapse has already begun. Women’s fitted suits and dresses are out, men have ditched ties, and suits are on the endangered species list. New reality: If he can’t fit in the washing machine, he won’t fit in the closet. More dress to impress.

Our diets are under pressure from inflation and supply chain issues. Expect to see more “bowls”. They are both practical and allow the use of inexpensive ingredients. Plant-based food is the new beef. In addition, cheaper farmed fish – tilapia and catfish – will be the new halibut and groupers.

The ripple effects of some of these changes will affect education. Already it is partly remote and connected to the Internet, but it will become more so as people move from the workplace to work in a pleasant place. If mom and dad are practicing law in Washington from the east coast of Maryland, the schools on the east coast will have to expand and modernize. This will be repeated throughout the country.

Even our love lives will be transformed. The new realities are already closing off the old source of love companions: the office. Those who are willfully stuck at home have to find new ways to meet people if they are looking for a partner – probably a boon for singles bars and computer dating.

We will have new special classifications. There will be destination workers, like those who tend to the post office and fix things, and those who work virtually. What will they be called? Perhaps “destinations” and “virtuals”.

Finally, there is the changing force of time. It’s worth wondering if as many people want to make the jump from snowbelt to sunbelt as they have for decades. Many sunny destinations like Florida, Arizona and Texas had daily temperatures above 100 degrees this month. Was this what migrants from the North to the South wanted?

The 2020s are proving to be a decade of transformation, profoundly.

When the shaking stops, things will be different, life will be changed.

Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS. He wrote this for