Although 2020 was wracked with a global pandemic courtesy of the coronavirus, which caused economic and political turmoil across the globe, the past 12 months still managed to be punctuated with moments of great positivity. Below, we celebrate the silver linings of the year gone by, be it the rise of health worker heroes, the plummeting levels of global pollution or the surge in family bonding time.
NEW HEROES HAVE EMERGED, LED BY HEALTH WORKERS
Frontline doctors, nurses and other health workers, especially those who perished while battling Covid-19, have been hailed as modern-day heroes as they courageously defied fears and risks to their personal health so others would live. Despite the continuing pall of gloom cast by the global pandemic, frontline doctors and other health workers raise hopes and inspiration as they press on in their battle against an unseen lethal enemy.
FAMILY BONDING RECEIVED A HUGE BOOST
During normal times, senior executives and entrepreneurs often spend long hours at work to run their businesses, often at the expense of family time. This phenomenon is by no means unique in Hong Kong, but thankfully, the pandemic has ushered in a new normal, with these elite businesspeople now consigned to working at home. In the process, they’re getting to spend more quality time with family members, which goes a very long way in bolstering family bonding and relationships.
MUSIC CONCERTS GOT MORE CREATIVE AND ACCESSIBLE
Undeterred by bans on huge music concerts due to Covid-19-related social distancing, scores of the world’s famous entertainers and other celebrities, including Elton John, Celine Dion, Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney, banded together for a huge online charity concert, One World: Together at Home, on April 18 that was globally televised and shown live on ABC, NBC, ViacomCBS Networks, iHeartMedia, Bell Media networks and online platforms in Canada. It was held to celebrate and support healthcare workers, as well as feature real-life experiences of doctors, nurses and families around the world. Shortly thereafter, Lady Gaga released a new album online, which features a selection of upbeat songs, while Demi Lovato reprised her Grammy performance, followed by a flawless delivery of the national anthem at the Super Bowl. In a heart-warming twist, musicians serenaded a quiet, leafy audience of nearly 2,300 house plants as the Liceu opera house in Barcelona, Spain reopened its doors on June 22. Proceeds from the performance were later donated to charity.
BUSINESSES LARGE AND SMALL WENT ONLINE
Numerous companies – large, medium, small and micro – across the world went online to reach out to their customers forced home or restricted from travel by Covid-19-induced lockdowns. Online commerce received an unwitting huge stimulus, while consumers now enjoy more convenience and ease in their purchases.
READING WAS RE-DISCOVERED
Left with no choice but to stay home for extended periods of time, many have re-discovered their passion for reading, be it the old-fashioned way with a hardcopy of a best-seller or digitally through the use of a Kindle or some other handy tablet.
BAKING, GARDENING AND OTHER DOMESTIC CHORES TOOK OFF
Staying home with little or no physical activities is bound to hit the waistline as the temptation to overeat becomes irresistible. In this regard, baking curiously emerged as boon and bane since a wide array of muffins, cookies, baked pastas and other baked dishes often enticed everyone in the household to consume extra calories more than their usual intakes. Gardening, spring cleaning and a few other chores, though, helped maintain the balance thanks to their physical exertions. In all, many families used the enforced home lockdowns to turn their hand at tasks long left undone.
SURPRISE, SURPRISE… BIG COMPANIES BOLSTERED THEIR CSR (CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY)
Criticised periodically for amassing huge profits but not giving back enough to the communities where they operate and serve, certain large corporations took pro-active measures to help those in great need amid the pandemic. Some cases in point were Apple and 3M, which pooled their resources or tinkered with their operations to produce millions of face masks to help keep people safe from the continuing spread of Covid-19. Other American companies, notably Ford, General Motors, Tesla and other automakers, also ventured into areas where they have not tread before, particularly through production of ventilators and other medical devices to help save lives of those stricken with the lethal pandemic. Alcoholic drinks producers in different countries also pitched in and re-calibrated portions of their businesses to produce hand sanitisers.
TIK TOK TURNED SCORES INTO INSTANT ENTERTAINERS
With more personal time on their hands than ever before, a surge of would-be entertainers took to short video apps like Tik Tok to try pass the days. Before Tik Tok was banned in Hong Kong, Indonesia, India and in several other countries, the short video app became extremely popular and its use exploded across the world as it enabled users to create and share lots of fun and entertaining videos which often featured their creators as principal performers. From adorable pet videos to dancing shows, vocal performances and more, they gifted the world with an entirely new stream of fun.
THANKS TO ZOOM, PARTIES AND MANY OTHER FESTIVITIES ARE STILL ON
Milestone events, including birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, conferences, trade exhibitions and many others went online during the enforced Covid-19 social distancing, thanks to Zoom and other video conference apps. With gatherings banned, the need for a communal space prompted organisers to come up with new ways of bringing people together. Video conferencing tools emerged as a convenient solution, with Zoom one of the major beneficiaries. Today, it’s not uncommon to find families – particularly those who are spread across borders – to utilise this innovative method to connect with their loved ones.
THOUGH VIRAL, ROMANCE CONTINUES TO BLOOM AND PROSPER
Romance is often impatient, and some separated lovers simply can’t wait for a Covid-19 vaccine to get approved for mass use. Great affection almost always inspires and fuels innovations and creativity, and this explains the use of drones in various places to deliver fresh flowers and other goodies to a loved one. No more candle-lit, intimate dinners? Hardly a problem. Online romantic dinners are not uncommon – with promises of a return to lovely evenings together in person when normalcy returns.
CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS FELL SIGNIFICANTLY ACROSS THE WORLD AS FOSSIL FUEL ENERGY CONSUMPTION FELL STEEPLY
An unprecedented reduction in carbon dioxide emissions was recorded across the world during the first half of 2020, much larger than the level during the 2008 financial crisis, 1979 oil crisis and even World War II, as fossilised fuel use plunged amid Covid-19 lockdowns and curtailed travel across the globe. During the period, emissions were slashed by 1,551 million tonnes or 8.8 percent compared to the first half in 2019, according to a study by an international research team, led by Zhu Liu from the Department of Earth System Science at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The plummeting levels of global pollution has even reversed the effects of climate change in some countries, promoting several species of wildlife to return to once-abandoned habitats, such as pink dolphins in Hong Kong harbour and pink flamingos in Mumbai. While Covid-19 has left its indelible mark, it’s clear 2020 still found reason for good cheer.