Many around the world currently do not realise that amid the covid-19 pandemic, the world is going through a full or fast tracked industrial revolution and that this has shifted the well-being of many persons.
But what exactly is a revolution? One definition of revolution as put forward by the Lexico Dictionary (https://www.lexico.com/definition/revolution) is “A dramatic and wide-reaching change in conditions, attitudes, or operation”. Lexico Dictionary also defines a revolution as being synonymous with words such as “dramatic change, radical change, drastic alteration, radical alteration, complete shift, metamorphosis, transformation, conversion, innovation, breakaway, etc.
Now considering the meaning of a revolution, it should be obvious to most people (regardless of educational level or socioeconomic background) that this current pandemic has resulted in many changes. These are changes that the world has not seen since the First Industrial Revolution. The world has been through three industrial revolutions which totally transformed how things are done, how and where people live, work, relationships, etc. Now the Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond/). Since 2019/2020 however, the world has been experiencing the acceleration of the Fourth Industrial Revolution brought on by the covid-19 pandemic.
Most persons will think about illnesses, deaths, isolation, etc. when asked about the effects of the pandemic. But a closer look will also take us to the realisation and acknowledgement that our lives have changed significantly since the onset of the pandemic. And these changes are mainly digital or technological. Aspects of our personal and professional lives are now very different when compared to pre-pandemic days. Previously there were activities done by us that did not involve the use of technology whether by artificial intelligence, digital platforms, mobile devices, virtual reality, etc. Technology is now more than ever heavily involved in how we date, socialise, meet for work, worship, learning and training, less dependence on the movement of services or people via transportation, etc. We are now so dependent on technology that when the option is available we opt not to do face-to-face but virtual for meetings, healthcare, training, worship, etc. It is now uncommon to not have several meeting platforms on personal or work devices because the way in which we meet or communicate is mainly virtual. Some may argue that these changes are a plus for some persons especially those with introverted personalities. The drawback however is that even introverts need to socialise and be out and about with other persons. They tend to have smaller social circles and much of the socialisation is done within the workplace or around structured activities so having this removed can have negative impacts.
The increased use of technology from late 2019 to the present has an impact on our psychological and physical lives. Interactions between individuals and groups are now limited. Oftentimes when interactions take place it is now commonplace for it to occur through the use of a digital device. Consequently, it is slowly becoming the norm for in the flesh or face to face interactions to be an irregular occurrence. But is socialising with others through digital options adequate to satisfy our need to interact with other people? Usually it is not and this has resulted in the increasing reports of people being diagnosed with psychological illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Less human interactions and staying within a building (usually home) also means that physical and recreational activities are also limited. The reduction in physical and recreational combined with social isolation brings on stress as lifestyle illnesses. In an effort to combat these, it is recommended that deliberate efforts are made to engage in more in flesh interactions (maintaining the covid-19 safety measures of course), recreational activities and outdoor time. Simply scheduling interactions noting date and time, who to meet, where and activities to do can significantly enhance both physiological and psychological well-being. Plans can be made to take a walk through a favourite shopping mall, beach, park, etc. can do a lot to prevent psychological ill-health while increasing physical health. These will also naturally stimulate the happiness chemicals (endorphins) resulting in happiness and just an overall good mood. And as we think of methods to restructure how we live in a fast paced world that is heavily dependent on technology and less in flesh interaction, we must also give great consideration to the elderly and the children. How can we help them to cope during this time? Create a schedule for them too, to fit into the outdoor and recreational time so that they too will feel less isolated and be a part of safe recreational or even spiritual/religious activities.
So with the acceleration of the fourth industrial revolution primarily caused by the covid-19 pandemic the world is being pushed into the fifth industrial revolution. With a heavy reliance on automation, digitisation, virtual reality and technology one must wonder what to expect in a fifth industrial revolution. Can there be further advances in technology, will we see declines in the need for human resources, will we experience a greater dependence on the merger between humans and technology or a need for more human input therefore overriding the importance of technology or digitisation? What will the Fifth Industrial Revolution mean for our work and personal lives? How will it affect our physiological and psychological well-being?
© 2022, Stacy-Ann Campbell. All rights reserved.