On a scale of 1 to WTF…
It’s an understatement to say it’s been a weird year, I know. But, in reflecting back on the year, I’ve been struck by the “quarantine trends” that we, as a society, have embraced in order to *barely* get through this global pandemic.
So, in order of most surprising to least surprising (IMO)), here are the media trends of 2020—and what they tell us about our pandemic year (and quite possibly, about ourselves).
1. Most Surprising: Tiger King
Honestly, I still can’t believe this documentary exists. Or, for that matter, that it became the sensation it did. Whether or not you binged the show, no one could have missed the viral memes or the endless speculation surrounding Carol Baskin.
To me, Tiger King exemplifies the sheer panic of the period between late March and early April, of this year. It brings me back to the anxiety of those days and simply wanting to distract myself, but needing a piece of media so wild that I could actually become absorbed in anything that wasn’t the news or reflecting upon when I’d last washed my hands. Now, I frankly wish that the legacy of this show had been more focused on animal rights than memes.
2. Most “Can’t Believe Others Weren’t Already Doing This”: Banana Bread
I’m a stress-baker. Ever since I was in high school, I’ve been stress-baking cookie dough, cakes, and breads on a weekly basis. In order to spare my family’s waistlines, I developed a habit of freezing the dough and inviting friends over for a massive cookie baking party every few months. Needless to say, I was shocked to find out that the majority of Americans hadn’t baked a loaf of banana bread before this year. While banana bread isn’t my go-to comfort food—that’s reserved for chocolate chip cookies—I understand why others embraced learning this simple dish. And, I hope, understood a bit better why I so love to stress-bake. If you’re in a low-maintenance baking mood, check out these no-knead-bread recipes!
3. Most Useful: Therapy
In a strange twist of fate, 2020 was an excellent year for mental health awareness. The normalization of therapy, especially e-therapy—from apps like TalkSpace or BetterHealth to virtual appointments with typically in-person therapists—has been reassuring to see. What’s more, there has been a greater discussion about the affordability of therapy, too, given that virtual conversations or text messages with therapists are newer innovations, and I particularly appreciate the emphasis on race in therapy that stemmed from the BLM movements this summer.
2020 brought with it a newfound appreciation for self-care & further recognition that being selfish with regards to yourself and your mental health is OK.
And that we all have a lot to be grateful for.
4. Most Effort Required: Sourdough
I’ll be honest: I didn’t jump on this bandwagon. And I’m surprised so many did. Clearly, we all had a good amount of time on our hands this year so feeding a sourdough starter wouldn’t have been particularly difficult, despite it being time consuming. If we’re being completely transparent, sourdough is still one of those things worth buying premade vs. making homemade, if you ask 99% of folks (bakers included).
That being said, baking bread isn’t quite as easy as quarantine trends made them seem, so kudos to all who attempted this, particularly those who took it a step further by decorating their loaves — I saw all the Instagram stories and remain in awe.
5. Most Motivational: YouTube Workouts
Who knew I’d start following dozens of new women on YouTube this year? As we all adjusted to working from home, we also had to switch to working out from home, which was almost more difficult—after all, there’s no paycheck for that 15-minute sweat sesh!
But, I was definitely avidly exploring multiple YouTube workout gurus, from Chloe Ting to Pamela Reif and now Heather Robertson. While the structured workout programs were a must for me in the beginning of quarantine, I’ve re-entered a phase of “movement is a win!” and undoubtedly will push myself again, when the new year hits, as so many of us do with fitness. It hasn’t been an easy year to stay motivated with in regards to workouts, but YouTube made that a lot easier than it would have been, otherwise.
6. Most Life-Changing: Curating Ones Living Space
We all spent a little more time and money than usual sprucing up our living environments, this past year. From work-from-home setups to rearranging furniture in order to create more space or light. More than that, though, I think we’ve all gained a new appreciation for the space we inhabit and how we live in it.
This was a year that propelled us all to rethink our habits and habitats.
From seeking larger units to considering suburban locations more suited for social distancing, this was a year that propelled us all to rethink our habits and habitats. What’s more, the financial means by which people were able to do this—taking advantage of falling rental prices versus relying on the government to prevent an eviction—were made abundantly clear, as well. For those of us fortunate enough to have kept our jobs, we’ve likely saved a lot of money this year, cutting down on unnecessary expenses and using that change to upgrade our own environment, instead. Others, however, have had to make do with what they had and have faced tough situations due to the financial hardships they faced this year. Either way, we have all learned to make do with the spaces we have, whether by becoming interior decorators ourselves or rearranging a room enough times to make it look like an entirely new space.
7. Most Expensive: Peloton
Let’s be real: we all got stuck behind one of these moving trucks this year and every time I did, I wished I owned Peloton stock. While the Peloton bike is certainly expensive, it took off in a big way after free workout classes just weren’t doing enough for most avid gym-goers. My own roommate finally bit the bullet and bought one this holiday season and I’ve been contemplating sharing the membership fee for it with her, given that it definitely adds another element of difficulty and variety to my workout routine. While I doubt I’ll be on board as a cult follower, I’m sure the device has paid for itself, by now, with quarantine dragging on longer than we all anticipated.
8. Most Envy-Inducing: Adopting Puppies
This was the year to get a dog, that’s for sure, and as someone who dreams of being a Dog Mom I’m bummed my apartment didn’t allow me to even foster a puppy. But, I’ve lived vicariously through friends and have learned a lot about eventually adopting a puppy. It makes sense that 2020 would need us all to get emotional support animals (even if we’re not officially calling them that).After all, it’s been a year; I suspect 2021 – 2022 might be a rough time for all of our pets when the majority of us return to working from the office for the better part of the week.
9. Least Surprising: Plants
This one didn’t surprise me, especially after the baking phase. And as someone with a self-proclaimed black-thumb, I can admit that even I did my best to cultivate a green-thumb. With all of us indoors so much, it’s been nice to ground myself with soil, plants, and greenery. I’m not sure how my plants will stay alive once we return to normal life (whatever that even means, anymore) but that’s a problem for my 2021 self — oops! If you’re looking to bring a new plant into the new year, here are the top 6 houseplants that even you (or I) can’t kill.
10. Least Productive: Isolation
I know, I know. While isolation is part of the quarantine and social-distancing process, in a world of technology, a lack of communication doesn’t have to be. Yet, almost unsurprisingly, many of us found ourselves being quite the hermit in the pandemic. If you were an extrovert, you became an introvert, and if you were already an introvert, well, while you thrived in the first half, that second half of lockdown was probably no joke.
While Zoom parties, Instagram Live events and “Watch parties” hosted by popular streaming services became a thing at the top of the pandemic, it’s safe to say that we were all “missing outside” by the summer. And in true all-or-nothing form, some of us opted out of being social at all — social media included.
It’s no secret that quarantine, social distancing and COVID truly had our emotions and mental health in the dumps, or in the least, on the verge. However, as we prepare for a post-COVID world via a promising vaccine (fingers crossed), political reform (re: We made it, Joe!) and so forth, we have high hopes that 2021 will be much better than 2020.
In the very least, it won’t — no, it can’t — get any worse. *knocks on wood*
What quarantine trends surprised you, this year? Which do you hope to take into 2021?
Keertana Anandraj is a recent college grad living in San Francisco. When she isn’t conducting international macroeconomic research at her day job, you can find her in the spin room or planning her next adventure.
Image via Pexels