10 Things We Said In 2020 That Need To Stay In 2020 Forever

10 Things We Said In 2020 That Need To Stay In 2020 Forever

Are you ready for 2021? I am, and right now I’m happy to be looking back at some things I won’t miss about 2020.

Some words and terms have become synonymous with this horrible year, and I vow not to waste my time with them in 2021. Keep in mind, if I list something here, it’s nothing against the people or concepts that might be involved, but I’ve decided I won’t allow them to influence me the way they did in 2020.

‘The New Normal’

Let’s face it, the “new normal” is absolutely abnormal. I prefer normal or even better-than-normal. I don’t like the new normal or the sub-normal.

So, “new normal,” I choose to leave you here in 2020, and will pursue “normal” in 2021. Others are free to feel differently, but I sure hope they don’t expect me to join them.

‘Social Distancing’

Yes, I know. We might have to keep a safe distance for a time after New Year’s Eve, but I’m done with the term “social distancing.” I’ll do what I need to do, but I’m leaving this language in 2020. If you want to talk to someone about “social distancing,” how to do it, who’s doing it, who’s not doing it, and who should do it in 2021, find somebody else.

‘Lockdowns’

They happened in 2020. As more data and analysis come out, lockdowns might have worked in those first 15 days to slow the spread of the Wuhan virus. Experts have been increasingly divided on their effectiveness after that. The only people who seemed to be having a good time with them were the political elites, who interestingly enough showed a real aversion to adhering to their own orders.

There’s one thing we all know: Lockdowns have devastated the economy, families, and communities. With all we continue to learn, combined with a new vaccine or two, and now the use of commonly understood mitigation efforts, you could say I’m done discussing lockdowns or humoring their advocates.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

I never knew who Dr. Anthony Fauci was before 2020, and while I don’t have anything against him personally, I look forward to a time when I forget his name.

‘Reimagine’

I’ve always been extremely sensitive to terms that are propagandist in nature, and I have worked hard to avoid them. “Reimagine” is one of those terms. When an artist says he wants to reimagine impressionist theory, I’m cool with that. When an architect says she wants to reimagine the family living space, I say, “Go for it.”

When the word “reimagine” is used to justify arbitrary budget cuts, the unnecessary elimination of jobs, and the destruction of organizations and industries, however, you’re not “reimagining” anything. You’re just tearing it apart. Be honest.

Remote Work and Remote Learning

Prior to 2020, I liked these concepts. In fact, I’ve worked from a home office for many years and love it, and I have no intention of changing it. The work-from-home craze that erupted out of our collective response to the pandemic, however, is getting old.

I’m sure many people will continue working and learning remotely, and I’m eager to see how that will work out for those who like it. For those who don’t like it, though, I look forward to a time when they can go back to the office or the classroom, where they are most content. I sense then we’ll all be a bit happier.

‘Misinformation’ and ‘Disinformation’

These words aren’t new, but they took on new meaning in 2020. While these terms are more commonly associated with propaganda strategies, now the words themselves are used to drive propagandist tactics.

People who want to discredit someone else’s opinion, facts, or thoughts have weaponized these two terms. In 2020, if someone didn’t like what they heard or the person who delivered the message, many resorted to calling the content “disinformation” or “misinformation.”

I like the “agree to disagree” position better. It’s much more respectful and honest. In 2021, you won’t catch me using “misinformation” or “disinformation” in the normal course.

‘Curation’

Sounds harmless, doesn’t it? Museum directors are curators. They catalog dinosaur bones and taxidermied wildlife or insects.

In 2020, however, we used this word as a way to describe how the big social media platforms take an active interest in our posts. When they “curate,” they pass value judgments on our content to determine whether we should have a digital voice.

Curation is editing at best and censorship at worst. I’m sure this word will gain traction in the future, but for me, its life cycle ends Dec. 31.

A New Vocabulary for 2021

I’m going to replace some of these terms with oldies-but-goodies, such as freedom, faith, patriotism, privacy, independence, self-reliance, and a few others. Committing to words like these reminds me that as hard as 2020 tried to defeat me, it lost. Now, finally, it’s gone.

Tim O’Brien is a veteran corporate communications consultant and crisis communicator who operates O’Brien Communications in Pittsburgh. He’s worked with organizations from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and nonprofits. His style has been to be honest when others aren’t, to use words that others won’t, all to help organizations connect in ways they haven’t. He’s also the creator and host of the "Shaping Opinion" podcast.
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