In the book Uncertainties in times of pandemic. A look towards the future It is pointed out that the consequences of the global pandemic of Covid-19 cross today’s society in multiple dimensions. Three words that begin with the letter “I” help us define this historical moment: Uncertainty, Inexperience and Interdependence. First of all, we are in a context of uncertainty radical. Uncertainty is largely the result of our incomplete and imperfect knowledge of the world, making it difficult for us to connect our present actions with its future results. It’s not just that we don’t know what will happen; often we don’t even know the kinds of things that might happen. On the other hand, it is a scenario inexperimentado. The previous global pandemic occurred more than 100 years ago, taking into account, in addition, that the world of 1918 is nothing like the world today. And finally, we are in a moment of great interdependence of actors, countries, companies, etc. During the pandemic, we have seen the problems of supply of medical supplies, the shortage of masks and personal protective equipment, which have highlighted the problems of the international division of labor. On the other hand, research, production and distribution of health products (drugs, vaccines, etc.) are showing the weaknesses and strengths of interdependencies at a global level.
Considering these three phenomena, we could conclude that the pandemic as a “total social fact”, in Maussian terms. And it is that the coronavirus is a phenomenon that puts into play all the dimensions of the social, in the image of what happens with consumption, since it attends to the complexity of the dimension of material production (objects and services) and of symbolic production (meaning and values). In this sense, the pandemic has modified world consumption, something that, looking at our country, is demonstrated by the fall in household consumption, which has accounted for 12.6% of GDP.
This affection of the pandemic in the social sphere is drawing a new type of society, which we could call a “contactless society”, marked by home confinements, the restriction of movements and schedules, in addition to the maintenance of physical distance that restricts the bodily co-presence so necessary in our societies. But if we turn our gaze towards consumption, we can see that there is an acceleration of the trends and transformations that had been taking place since the beginning of the century.
This phenomenon is intensified by what Byun-Chul Han calls the disembodied effect of the digitization process, by weakening the community bond. In this sense, we have witnessed a key transformation in the practice of consumption: the emergence of the homo subscriber, that is, a consumer by subscription. During this confinement, online entertainment through platforms grew exponentially; for example, Disney + achieved in five months what it cost Netflix 7 years. We have seen more movies and series in streaming across platforms, more music has been listened to in streaming with Spotify, etc. The subscription consumption model has been increased during the Covid-19 crisis and will mark a part of future consumption.
In addition, in this contactless society, two other upward predispositions can be seen: consumption through app applications (digital platforms) and electronic commerce. Two processes that are having an extraordinary impact on forms of consumption. Both digital platforms and online consumption will continue to eat a significant portion of the consumption pie. On the other hand, electronic payment methods are increasing. In addition, as a longer-term trend, it should be noted that digitization and the use of new means of payment will lead to a significant reduction in cash. We have gone from money in a solid state (banknotes and coins), to a liquid state (credit cards, etc.), in addition, we are approaching money in the cloud, we could say, in a gaseous state (Bizum, cryptocurrencies, etc.) .
Finally, another notable feature is the increase in consumption by use / consumption of experiences, rather than the ownership of the products. It has gone from the consumption of products to the use of products. In the 80s of the last century, the monthly ritual of the arrival of the Discoplay Monthly Newsletter It allowed us rural youth to stylize the soul through culture. It allowed us to be in contact with the world of culture, music, books, etc. In the current framework, things are not consumed, nor are they spent, but rather they are used. We have gone from Discoplay to Spotify.