2020 in a Flash

by Julius Kensan
31st December 2020
Editor-in-Chief Julius Kensan looks back at some of the notable changes within the local lifestyle industry in 2020 that has adapted itself to the pandemic, refusing to buck under its challenges.

Well, what a year. It feels even weirder typing this when it felt as if 2020 had just barely begun before we were thrown into a worldwide pandemic. If my astrology app were to tell me that I’ll be in for a transformative experience in 2020, I’ll be likely to think towards the direction of career and wealth. Instead, within the short span of a year, we’ve experienced the anxiety of a potential World War 3, Black Lives Matter movement that forces us to confront the systematic racism within our own country and not forgetting the unrest surrounding Omnibus Law that compounded the sense of helplessness in the increasingly chaotic year.

When wrapping up last year, I wrote that the city’s low air quality had intensified our desire of staying indoor, hence the rise in the popularity of indoor plants. This year, the demand has gone through the roof. Can’t be outdoor with nature? No problem, just bring them in. The pandemic has lifted our ‘plant blindness’ (the inability to notice the plants in one’s environment). Now, knowing how to distinguish calathea from philodendron is a child’s play. Still, more than the increase in appreciation of plants and interest in flora conservation, I strongly believe the experience has also opened our eyes to our untapped capacity for urban farming, which will undoubtedly transform the local F&B industry in the coming year.

Speaking of F&B, while the pandemic has severely impacted the dining industry, it also revitalised the scene in various ways. Many establishments that once only relied on walk-in diners were either pushed to be agile or else face closure. This is the year where many businesses fully embraced their digital journey as the customers carry out their spending online.

Even when the government has eased restrictions and we are finally able to dine in after being cooped up for months, things have changed drastically. One of the simplest examples is scanning QR code to access the menu. I for one am still not used to scrolling my menu instead of flipping it, but in a way, it has also optimised service. No longer do I have to wait (sometimes, in frustration) for the physical menu before deciding what to order. Plus, in an era where we’re pushing for more green initiatives, isn’t going paperless the most logical jumping point?

Still, to digitalise dining industry doesn’t mean replacing humans, but rather allowing humans to operate more efficiently. This is why 2020 is the perfect playground for local business owners to explore and do things differently. Hygiene protocols aside, they should also cast their eyes forward on how the data and analytics can radically change the way they operate, with advantages like reducing unnecessary food waste.

2020 is truly the year where “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. Home business, usually considered as a side hustle, is now a viable source of income. Earlier this month, Google has released this year’s top searches in Indonesia and it’s no surprise to find “how to sign up for a digital medium-sized business” among the mix.

Even without knowing that fact, you would probably notice it too from your Instagram Stories. I’ve seen many of my friends grit their teeth and push their way through the uncertainties of 2020 by starting their own catering business, publishing books and even cosmetic line. Of course, those ideas and desire could have been floating in their heads for years even before the pandemic, but it is this year that they decided to jump into it. It is this resilience and entrepreneurial spirit that has provided the term “home business” an attractive edge.

Recapping this year’s notable changes within the local lifestyle industries feels bizarre when a smattering number of significant events had happened and are still developing, whether within our country or around the world. Still, the earth continues to orbit, and nature carries on with or without pandemic, and whether or not the humans are in the picture. Who knows what will really happen in the coming year? In this year when many of us are enveloped in despair and grief, I hope that we can look at the whole picture and find solidarity and optimism. May we live in interesting times.