2020 is finally nearing its end. In most of the other years, people would reflect on their achievements, trips they have taken, life milestones accomplished. While there were still some of those no doubt completed somewhere this year, I think it’s a safe assumption that most of us would remember this year as an aberration, a bad movie that we are all relieved is finally over. It remains unclear whether 2021 will necessarily be an easier year, but I think most will agree that from the low points of 2020, any change can only be an improvement.
Hundreds of millions of people have spent a big chunk of 2020 in a relative isolation, or a lockdown, or some kind of a movement-limiting constraint that has suddenly brought up long-forgotten tendencies and desires. Such as the one for communication, for example. As we have all suddenly unexpectedly acquired a lot of spare time, or at least time at home, we have inevitably felt the urge to share it with the others. Not in the indifferent, careless way as before the pandemic struck, but actually wanting to TALK, to communicate. Using the voice, that is.
Remember those days? Before Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber or texting, when it was perfectly normal to pick up a phone, dial a friend’s number and have lengthy, spontaneous – not pre-arranged – conversations? If you’re a Millennial or younger, you probably won’t. But they did exist. People also used to pop in to each other’s homes unannounced – the horror! They brought gifts or just themselves, were warmly invited for tea and actually spent evenings conversing in person. Yes, imagine that.
Well, in-person conversations were certainly still out for most of 2020, but if there was one silver lining from this year is that it has hopefully brought back the desire and most importantly, the time for people to talk a little more personally rather than via robotic one-phrase exchanges on a Facebook Messenger, often too shallow and selfish to even use question marks in questions. People started talking more via video chats and started to use messenger apps to actually talk. And while I have always preferred that, to the chagrin of my more internet-adaptable friends, at least this year I was no longer the only weirdo who just calls you out of the blue.
This year, people have not had as much of the “busy” excuse, either. Yes, pre-Covid life was crazy busy for everybody, sure, but most have actually adapted to enjoy that and carry their busyness like a standard on a pole with pride. There have been great articles written about this phenomenon, such as this one. And yet it really hampered down on our quality of life, and most importantly, the quality of communication. When 100 years ago people would take time to write elaborate hand-written notes, 30 years ago people still had the similar email etiquette, 15 years ago there were still shreds of it left in texting and messaging, now we use the excuse of being too busy to use punctuation or too impatient to wait for an answer before hammering down another abrupt, demanding question that let’s face it, we don’t even care about being answered, because what’s the most important thing? Right, our own busyness.
So maybe 2020 wasn’t so bad after all. If it rewound back some of these ugly communication trends and made us appreciate human contact a bit more, I’d say it was actually pretty good. If people will look back at this year and remember not just the lockdowns and empty streets and sadly, the loss of the loved ones, but the time they spent actually talking, and listening to friends and relatives with the actual, genuine care, then maybe – and hopefully – we have all learned something from this strange, crazy year. I feel it, do you?