What should we call the next phase of humanity beyond this crisis? Assessing the catch phrases


We are living amidst a frightening global pandemic that we are working hard to contain and move past as quickly as possible.

So what comes on the other side of this phase? We need to be thoughtful about what we call it.

I have compiled a list below of some of the front-runner phrases, with my thoughts on their relative merits.

Post COVID-19 or Post coronavirus

These are problematic phrases because we are unlikely to ever completely vanquish this virus, even with an effective vaccine. And if we do, other viruses will emerge, or at very least a deep-rooted fear a new pandemic could emerge that will be as bad or worse.

Post pandemic

This has been my preferred phrase so far, in that we will certainly get past the pandemic phase (probably later rather than sooner), even though the virus will continue to be present as we rebuild our economies and societies. However this is just a time marker, it doesn’t suggest that the world will be different on the other side.

New normal or Next normal

This phrase seems to be commonly used, but it implies that we will return to a ‘normal’ of some description. That seems to me optimistic and somewhat deluded. The phrase was also used extensively in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, so if we’ve already been living in a ‘new normal’ then surely after this it would have to be a ‘new new normal’? As such ‘next normal’ makes a little more sense, but still suggests there will be a normal after this. I doubt it.

Post normal

I have to say I like this one. It is not a new phrase and there is a very good case that we have been in post-normal times for quite a while now, however this massive social discontinuity is probably a good marking point for when we acknowledge that we will never again be able to describe the world as ‘normal’.

The choose-your-epithet twenties (crazy? delirious? discombobulated? distanced?)

We have no idea what this decade holds, let alone the 2030s, but given COVID-19 has neatly fallen at the dawn of the decade and looks likely to frame much of the remainder of the coming 10 years, we can consider the decade ahead in the light of this brutal kick-off. Of course we can only truly name decades after the fact, but it may not be too early to give it a go.

What’s your proposed adjective to tentatively describe the decade ahead?

The great transformation

My friend and colleague Gerd Leonhard is using this phrase, which is helpful as it points to the potential scope of change likely to come in the wake of this initial crisis, which could span many fundamental aspects of how we live as a society.

Renaissance or New dawn

We can and probably should wax optimistic about the positive potential of this crisis, though unfortunately from the standpoint of today that is far from inevitable.

Let me know what your preferred term is and if you have come across any other popular or interesting phrases!

I’ll keep this post updated as I find other terms worth adding.