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  • Writer's pictureJohn O'Rangers

Coronavirus, Bars And Restaurants, And Why People Are Going Out

I admit this post is a bit off topic, as this is supposed to be a blog about consumer electronics. But we live in off topic times at the moment, so I thought I'd join the party. If there's concern about topic, OK, here's some on topic stuff. The Apple stores are closed until the end of the month. Come to CDC for your repairs. There, that ought to do it.

All puns aside, I wanted to take a moment to address the topic of lifestyle restrictions and quarantines that has been making the rounds on the airwaves, as I believe there are some misunderstandings. One of the perks of this business is that it allows me to meet people from all walks of life, including people much older than me and much younger as well. So the message I'm trying to convey is intended to address everyone. Now before someone trolls in and says "you're generalizing!", I know that. I'm not suggesting ALL people think this way; some do. And it's useful for everyone to understand why they do the things they do.

Keep in mind this isn't the first time this has occurred. World War II had a ton of restrictions on the domestic front. Automobiles were not made for a period of time, rubber was in shortage for tires, people had to install black-out curtains on their windows to limit light in case of an aerial bombing. The list goes on and on. Ask anyone who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s about "Duck and Cover", "Bert the Turtle", and "Conelrad". Oh I can assure you they will know exactly what you're talking about. So from a big picture perspective, we've been through similar situations and came out of it OK. Don't worry, this will be no different.

The topic of bars and restaurants has come up during this health emergency. Some cities and municipalities have already started curfews or outright mandating their closure during this period. Unfortunately this is a reality at the moment. I realize it is a huge impact on our daily lives as far as changes in business hours and how we go about things. Is this all a big hoax and we're being hoodwinked? I'd like to say it is, but the reality is that it isn't. We all have to do our part to limit exposure to this illness and save lives. If it means cutting back on some things for a while, that's what has to happen. If it turns out to be a hoax or alarmist nonsense? There will be a time and place for us to address that matter and hold people accountable. But this is not the time and it probably never will be.

Now about these bars and restaurants. Why are people going out despite the warnings? There's a reason for this, and it's important that everyone understands why. Some of it is foolishness, no question. Our media has done a horrendous job of reporting over the last few years, and a strong case can be made that it's a "crying wolf" scenario. I think certainly their credibility is questionable, and it's quite possible some people are ignoring them. But it's more than that. It's a lifestyle matter that people my age and older do not really understand very well. We've heard stereotypes recently such as "OK, Boomer", "Karen", and "Lazy Millenials" and so forth. They're generalizations for the most part, but there's some element of truth behind them. Let me elaborate.

Over the weekend, especially if you watched Twitterverse, the bars and restaurants were a hot topic. Repetitively the focus was on the "under 42 crowd" going out in spite of the warnings. In other words, the Millenials and the GenZ demographic. I saw one well known personality tweet disgust over it, basically saying that the younger people can't stay home for one weekend and we're a nation of alcoholics and potheads. Interesting take, and while I'm sure there are some that may fit that description, I'm not that cynical. I try to be a little more sophisticated about things, and the cell phone repair business has given me the opportunity to hone my skills and be on the cutting edge of all of this. The pundits my age and older have a little too much Boomer in them I guess.

The reason they are going out is due to how they live; it's the result of a snowball effect that has been rolling downhill and getting bigger and bigger. In the late 90s, we had this thing called the "tech bubble", where everyone and their brother were speculating with stocks and it all went belly-up. But that mindset didn't go away, and it transferred into the housing market. People were flipping houses for quick profit, all sorts of mortgage schemes came along, and prices blew up to absurd levels. We all know what happened; it blew up like the "tech bubble", only worse, and caused the financial crisis of 2008.

Since that time, home ownership and what it takes to do it has changed drastically. Banks are very conservative with lending nowadays, the prices are still high and getting higher, and add to that the student loan situation which is a classic bubble as well. So these younger people live in a different economic environment than people much older do. And that dynamic has created a spill-over effect into the present day, and this health emergency is exposing a weakness that I believe many are not aware of.

The younger people aren't buying a lot of houses these days. They either can't afford one or cannot qualify for a mortgage. So they've adapted to a new lifestyle of renting. A fair proportion of them have totally changed their lifestyle to the point of renting small studio apartments and living in trendy downtown areas with the very bars and restaurants that are in question. They have no living room, no back yard, many don't own TVs or even computers. Everything is done on their phone. So the bars and restaurants? They are their living room, that's where they go for their lifestyle. Others go to the parks, the libraries, theaters and so forth. It's a lifestyle comparable to places like Italy and greater Europe.

So my suggestion is before you slam these people, it's vital to understand their demographic and how they live. This health emergency exposes a weakness in their lifestyle, and we're seeing the results in Italy, which are pretty terrible. It's not their fault, and there's nothing productive in mocking them. They rely on public spaces as a replacement for what earlier generations had in their homes. So for those of us out here they may have homes and yards in a quiet subdivision, let me ask you this: What can we do to create realistic homebuying opportunities for the Millenial and GenZ generation? We cannot and should not give them something for free, but we cannot continue to realistically expect them to buy when $350-$500K is considered affordable.

In conclusion, I wish everyone the best and please adhere to the recommended courses of action. Doing so will ensure that harm is kept to a minimum and will allow us to return to normalcy sooner.

God speed.

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