December 28th, 2020 5 minute read


2020 was a crazy year for everyone.


Even if you have been living in a cave, you probably have at least noticed more people moving into neighboring caves in an attempt to get away from the fallout of one of the strangest years we have ever seen.


While it is easy to simplify things into the phrase “global pandemic,” 2020 was much more of an aggregate of many smaller, complex circumstances that most of us never expected to need to navigate, including things like:


  • Working from home: This became a reality for so many of us that it has changed the way work happens. Business casual has come to mean something entirely different – now referring more to “business” above the waist, and “casual” below, leading to such combinations as a shirt, tie and sweatpants becoming regular work attire. There are also those with the gusto to just go for it and claim to have the “broken camera” so they can get away with wearing pajamas to work meetings. We are onto you…


  • Homeschooling: As if working from home wasn’t challenging enough, let’s throw educating children on top of the new routine!


  • A huge market crash: Nothing like watching your portfolio lose about 30% of its value in about a week! I think we probably should have invested in sweat pants and toilet paper. Hey, speaking of…


  • A toilet paper shortage: This had to be one of the strangest. Neighbor against neighbor, wondering who was hoarding all the TP.


  • Wearing a mask… Everywhere: It’s all fun and games until you sneeze.


  • And conflicting information… about all of it.


2020 also gave rise to several cultural phenomena as well, with people leaning into the pandemic and coming up with new ways to continue to move forward in life. One major manifestation of this has been the slew of new expressions around different elements of the experience.


While some of them are quite amusing (I’m still waiting for the scary movie to come out called “Asymptomatic Superspreader”), there are a few phrases that we could go the rest of our lives without hearing again.


So without further ado, here are the top four phrases from 2020 that we would like to never hear again.


“Virtual” Everything

Virtual meetings, virtual tradeshows, virtual fun runs…


Part of making it through 2020 has been trying to find some semblance of a regular life while adjusting to the “new normal” (more on that in a bit).  But, if you ask us, some of this is just too big of a stretch.


One of our personal favorites is the “virtual escape room,” where you join a group of friends in the task of trying to escape from a room… that you aren’t in… with a group of people that are nowhere near you.


While we love creativity and anything that can bring people together during times like this, is it too much to ask that maybe we just call it what it is? While a virtual tradeshow might be fairly accurate, it’s incredibly hard to take something like a virtual spa day seriously.


“New Normal”

What on earth does this even mean?


This one is like nails on the chalkboard. The term “new normal” bugs us for a few reasons.


First, can someone please explain what the previous normal was? While just about everything has changed over the course of the year, the idea that there was really ever a “normal” in the first place is fairly misleading.


Second, can someone please tell us what is normal about NOW? Don’t worry, we can wait…


And third, the idea that the current state of things will somehow stay the same is not only ridiculous but is really one of the most difficult things about what we are all going through together. There is no “new normal,” there really never was an “old normal” to begin with, and thinking that there is anything remotely normal about the current circumstances is just asking for even more stress.


But that’s just 2020 I guess…


“That’s 2020”

This is by far one of the most irritating things we heard last year.


Your Zoom crashes. “That’s 2020.”


The neighbor’s dog digs up your yard. “That’s 2020.”


Flat tire? “That’s 2020.”


It’s as if the world forgot the age-old adage, “$#%* (or stuff) happens.” Well, at least it used to. I think THAT is about as close to “normal” as we could ever count on. The year was truly hard enough without pretending that nothing ever went wrong before 2020.


While the year has been one of the toughest any of us have ever been through, let’s be real for a minute – things have always gone wrong, and in a lot of ways, things have still never been better.


What ever happened to things just going wrong for no real reason?


You’re on Mute

This little gem is basically the new version of walking into the office with your fly down or having something in your teeth, with one very important distinction – everyone must immediately tell you.


While we are all still adjusting to so many new things from 2020 (dare I say, “normals”…), one that not a single person seems to be able to nail consistently is the mute button.


We are fairly certain that if you aren’t hearing this phrase once a day at least, you are among a very, very small group of people.


And if you are hearing this phrase once a day, you probably love it about as much as we do…


The very best way to use this phrase though is to just throw it out there in a meeting when you get bored.


Next time you feel like you are dozing off on your Zoom virtual corporate retreat, wait until someone new starts talking and let them know they are muted… and watch the hilarity ensue.


The frantic scramble for the mouse…


The jumble of confused words as the search for the unmute button plays out…


The confused looks on everyone else’s face as they realize they could still hear what was being said….


It’s truly making lemons into lemonade.

The Year That Wasn’t

So there you have it, the four phrases that we would gladly take a foot-long cotton swab up the nose to never hear again.


I think if we can take anything away from 2020, it should be that crazy, unexpected things will always happen, and it is what we do with them that makes us who we are.


For us, it’s about leaning into the crazy, caring about the people in our lives, and never, ever taking things too seriously.


Wherever you may find yourself as 2021 gets underway, just remember that change is the only “normal,” and the only thing that we really have is each other.


Stay safe out there.