Global trends of 2022 | By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar

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THE world changed its form during the pandemic when the idea of “work-from-home” and “isolation” became a part of our vocabulary and lifestyle.

The pandemic was perhaps an eye-opener that brought us closer to reality. A truth we were, perhaps, ignoring for far too long. Digital media and technology – including gadgets and social media – played an ever-increasing role in helping us connect and communicate with peers, colleagues, friends, and family.

The pandemic raised concern for the global health scenario as medical professionals geared to administer vaccine shots among the masses in 2021.

The social distancing and disruptions caused by the pandemic were reduced as life returned to normalcy once people began receiving vaccination shots. The variations of the virus have been emerging across the world. Perhaps the pandemic may turn into an endemic and fade away but nothing can be assured. Healthcare concerns will remain evident now that the world has experienced the consequences of the virus and its impact.

Moreover, the hybrid work mode may remain in effect for a long time. While the nations are resuming to on-site, in-office work mode, the corporations are now open to the hybrid work mode as well. As the companies managed to work remotely during the lockdown, they may have no problem returning to the work-from-home model if – in a dire circumstance – the world enters into another lockdown.

Moreover, companies have experienced a greater work-life balance of their employees when they were working from home. Staying closer to their families and at the comfort of their homes tend to make them more productive. Companies also save their utility bills and overhead costs in such a scenario.

With changing trends in lifestyle, the currency shifts from liquid, physical cash to cryptocurrency were evident in 2020-21 and may remain active in the years to come. Countries are still debating over the legality of using Bitcoin. It will be a fight between the proponents of Bitcoin and the financial system that has been controlling the world for centuries.

Where life on Earth was changed for good in 2020 and 2021, Elon Musk has been contemplating colonizing Mars and exploring the vastness of space. China and Russia began collaborating to develop a moon base while NASA sent the James Webb Space Telescope in December 2021 to find the truth of the universe and the cosmos.

Private space companies SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic began space missions for civilians. Traveling to the Moon and Mars are being planned. 2021 was also a time when electric vehicles made their presence felt. Tesla Model 3 became Europe’s best-selling vehicle.

Reports suggest that by 2035 the US will cease the purchase of gas-powered vehicles. It is yet to be seen how will humans – addicted to fast-paced traveling on the roads – will adjust to the slow and steady performance of electric vehicles.

Holistically speaking, in 2022 and beyond, we may see changing trends in education, research, and technology. Metaverse will indeed play a vital role in combining the physical world with the virtual world – making us a part of the world where anything is possible.

—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Karachi.

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