Various versions of a proverb dictate that death and taxes are the only two certainties in life. But if you’ve been consuming media in the past few weeks, you’d be forgiven for wanting to add the “new normal” to this list.
“The new normal will be anything but ordinary”, CNN married last week. Others have called it in turn scary, stimulating, transformative, enlightening. In fact, the predictions of what this New Normal will look like, sound, feel, even smell or taste.–are currently as difficult to avoid as the reminders needed to wash hands and wear a face shield.
We all know we’ll have to adapt to it, and we’re often told that it will be shaped by a confluence of factors, but other than that the one thing that seems absolutely certain about this elusive new normal is that ‘it be categorically unprecedented.
COVID-19 could have turned us all into epidemiologists, supply chain experts and–the last days–Oil analysts, but another development that is perhaps just as frustrating, but admittedly not so damaging, is that it has supercharged the use of lazy clichés.
While there are countless examples, the New Normal seems particularly relevant right now, and its flaws are almost as numerous as its incidents of abuse.
Pedants might be quick to point out that this is simply a paradox. If something is new, can it really be considered totally normal? And can normal things be new? Perhaps more fundamentally, the sentence assumes that there is something normal in the first place.–a sort of generalized status quo: parameters outside of which everything is a little strange.
While this is clearly a gross generalization, “working from home will become the new normal after coronavirus” is not the most outlandish statement. But does that in fact imply that there will be something wrong with not working from home in the future? Or that it was weird to work at home–as 43% of Americans have done on occasion–long before this crisis?
New normals have been predicted for years, but it’s unclear if they actually materialized. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and the recession that followed, low interest rates were to be a new normal, but we still describe them as extraordinary.
In 2010, the boss of PIMCO asset manager, Mohamed El-Erian, delivered the prestigious conference of the Per Jacobsson Foundation at the International Monetary Fund, entitled “Navigating the New Normal in Industrialized Countries”. In it, he said PIMCO coined the term in early 2009 “in an attempt to move the discussion beyond the notion that the crisis was a simple wound of the flesh, easily healed over time.” the bone. It was the inevitable result of an extraordinary period of several years that was anything but normal. “
The term in this sense was used to express the severity of a development’s impact and serve as a warning not to underestimate it. It is very good. The problem, however, is that overuse–and often abused–can reduce a few words to an empty cliché.
COVID-19[female[feminine has changed the way we live, work and interact. We can go back to old habits in weeks, months or years. We can not. We might all be unrecognizable around this time next year. We can not. Of course, some things will change, but that doesn’t mean we’re necessarily going to head straight into an era of Normal News. And believe it or not, some of what we’re about to encounter might not even be unprecedented.