Ah yes, 2020, the most unprecedented of times. This tumultuous year has introduced us to a host of brand new buzzwords in everyday conversation.
If you’ve made it this far into a year full of crises ranging from scorched-earth climate catastrophes, a global pandemic that upended our everyday existence, and lest we forget the mass anti-racism reckoning and Black Lives Matter protests that erupted around the world resulting in significant losses as well, I’m sure the words on this list sound very familiar. Some turns of phrase I’m sure we’ll be happy to leave behind in 2020 forever.
However, it is up to us to look at this year in review framed by the words searched online the most to inform how we must act differently in 2021 to quell oncoming disasters. These are the 8 most used words in the new normal that was the year 2020. “May auld acquaintance be forgot!”
The relentless uttering of the word pandemic is an obvious one this year as the coronavirus pandemic affected everyone’s lives in some way or another on a global level. All of us experienced the life-altering motions COVID-19 imposed on our daily routines. The word pandemic was looked up on Merriam-Webster’s online Dictionary resource 4,000% more often than the term was searched back in 2019. I wonder why that is? In the same vein, the word quarantine was looked up 1,900% more often than it was back in the year 2019.
2. Virtual happy hour
In a world gone remote and local water holes shuttering their businesses due to the state by state stay at home mandates many of our social lives were permanently moved to the Zoomasphere (this is what I call the Zoom universe.) Gathering in this way was a much safer alternative than meeting in person and the weekly viewing of movies and virtual board game nights with co-workers were a huge part of several company’s new work from home wellness pillars attempting to maintain the mental well-being of those employees suffering from isolation. Many companies will be doing the same for holiday parties and until it’s safe to gather in enclosed spaces over a pint with your team members again I don’t mind this new way of socializing to boost morale.
This sounds like a cool new band but with most concerts and tours on hold due to the coronavirus the phrase megafire refers to the intense, destructive forest fires that tore through the United States, Brazil, Australia, and Russia this year. The implications of climate change have been felt heavily across the board this year and we’re yet to see the fallout from mass amounts of ecosystems damaged, killing off integral species of animals and fauna necessary for the survival of all creatures on earth. Access to greenspace is vital for our future generations’ happiness and ability to survive.
This little guy made quite the splash in the headlines when doctors thought a pangolin was responsible for the spread of the coronavirus after someone ate it as a delicacy. This word was also searched a lot because the illegal seizure of pangolins by poachers put them at high risk for extinction. Pangolins are highly sought after because their scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine and as mentioned prior they are considered a delicacy to eat. I think I’ll pass.
The Black Lives Matter movement forced countries to examine their racist history and to reckon with those celebrated leaders that had a checkered past when it came to racist practices. Controversial statues around the world were unbolted and torn down due to their uncouth colonialist practices and a direct hand in the slave trade industry that will forever be a dark mark in our shared histories. It’s important we all take a moment to explore how we can avoid repeating problematic history to continue to unbolt and dismantle white supremacist institutions that do not provide an equal playing field for all people.
The bevy of bad news this year kept many of us glued to our screens scrolling for the next “end of the world as we know it” headline. There is a term for this phenomenon and it’s called doom-scrolling. This year the only breaking news outlets and human connection we safely had access to were through social media platforms and when one harrowing news story unfolds on Twitter into another we get caught up in this panic-inducing cycle of consuming chaos content.
7. Medical populism
There were definitely political figures and people not in the medical field that influenced the outcome and response to this pandemic. Due to it’s rapidly evolving nature and unique ways in which we’ve had to fight this virus because of how it presents in our system it’s opened the door for conspiracy theorists and public figures alike to have their own opinions and sometimes dangerous and controversial solutions to such a wide-reaching catastrophe. One example of a populist approach to this virus was Professor Didier Raoult proposing doctors administer hydroxychloroquine for more serious COVID-19 cases.
The best new acronym introduced to our vocabulary this year by far is ARNm, the highly anticipated COVID-19 vaccine. This Ribonucleic Acid (mRNA) vaccine will help protect you from succumbing to this deadly virus that has claimed over 334,000 lives this year. This press release goes into the details of how this non-traditional vaccine works. “The aim is to have the fragments of infectious agents produced directly by the cells of the vaccinated individual. To do this, it is not the virus in its attenuated form that is injected, but only DNA or RNA molecules coding for proteins of the pathogenic agent.”
You can find out more about how this specific vaccine is your best shot against fighting the novel coronavirus in the following study.