12 New Popular Terms That Emerged This Past Year
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a lingo all its own, that culture quickly adopted to navigate this new, uncertain season. Work, school, hobbies, family, friends—all sectors of life have been greatly impacted and these new terms and their routines have provided society the chance to steer through this strange interval in history.
Check out these 12 terms that are now an everyday part of our language:
COVID-19 prompted many businesses and organizations to coin a new desk job routine: the WFH (Work from Home) edition. Kitchen tables, living room couches and even food trays by the bedside morphed into office spaces. Teams, Zoom and Skype replaced conference rooms while barking dogs and crying kids made their conference call debuts.
While a relaxed WFH environment has its benefits (i.e., balancing household chores while working, avoiding a hectic commute home, etc.), many people miss the 4-D effect of working in-person. If there’s one thing that the WFH world has taught society, it’s that people value face-to-face, personal connections with coworkers.
- Remote Depositions and Arbitrations
Like all industries, the legal world was turned upside down when COVID hit. Juries were no longer allowed to gather and hosting in-person depositions, arbitrations, trials and other proceedings posed a potential threat to everyone’s health.
However, adaptation, flexibility and endurance enabled legal professionals to adjust to the new from-home environment, leveraging virtual formats for depositions, arbitrations and more recently, trials. Remote deposition platforms provide an experience that mirrors in-person proceedings, complete with screen sharing, realtime exhibit sharing, breakout rooms and other functionality, enabling everyone to participate as if they were in the same conference room.
- Social Distance
It’s been over a year since COVID did its deed, and now, everyone understands the 6-foot rule: Space out, leave fresh air for others, don’t get in anyone’s bubble.
From an emotional standpoint, though, humans still need social interaction. Thanks to lots of people’s creativity (and Zoom and masks), communities have learned how to host special, even fun, events while maintaining a healthy distance from others.
Maskne—such a gross reality introduced by COVID. With many people wearing masks 8, 9, even 10 hours a day, oil, dirt and sweat are trapped, causing breakouts on not only teenagers, but adults too. Even adults who never experienced acne in their youth now have uncontrollable, embarrassing flareups.
Though maskne offers few benefits, it has caused many Americans to focus their attention on skincare and better hygiene practices. (And more contactless ways to navigate the daily routine so people don’t wear masks 24/7).
- Contactless Delivery
Contactless delivery has become a fan favorite. It’s almost as if every restaurant, regardless of how fancy or relaxed, has mastered its own pizza-delivery method. Now, five-course meals, from steak and salad to pasta and bread, can be dropped off at the door in a safe, efficient manner. Whether you’re on a conference call, helping your child with schoolwork, or knocking out chores, dinner is at your door.
This new food industry method has called for many restaurants to step up their digital game, enhancing the accessibility and user-friendliness of their apps. Contactless delivery has also strengthened businesses like Uber Eats and Door Dash, creating more flexible jobs within the community.
- Virtual Learning
In essence, virtual learning is better understood as “homeschool is the only option” — except not all parents were prepared to become full-time teachers while balancing everything else amidst a global pandemic.
Some families have thrived with virtual learning, but for others, it’s been a struggle. Parents are relearning 4th grade math skills while children feel like they’re trapped in a social bubble. Each family member must sacrifice time and effort to incorporate virtual learning into the daily routine. But either way, one thing is for sure: everyone has learned to (re)appreciate the true value of educators.
- COVID Bubble
For the extrovert, a COVID bubble felt like the end of the world—an ironic theme in the middle of a pandemic. It meant that the in-person friend list had to shrink drastically. No more jam-packed house parties. No more cramming in coffee shop corners. No more nothing.
But for the introvert, this was a welcomed protocol. The COVID bubble created a perfect excuse not to interact with tons of people. Rather than saying, “I just don’t want to go,” introverts could hide behind a more heroic statement like, “I’m doing this to protect your health.”
(Meanwhile, for some, the COVID bubble served as a perfect excuse to avoid in-laws around the holidays… something both introverts and extroverts could get on board with.)
- COVID Babies
By mid-March 2020, memes flooded social media, predicting a second Baby Boom, better known as COVID Babies. With couples stuck at home for hours on end, with limited activities, what better way to spend pandemic-induced free time than by pro-creating, right?
Surprisingly enough, the memes were wrong. By December 2020, UT Southwestern Medical Center reported that nearly 500,000 less babies would be born in 2021 (conceived in 2020) than in 2020 (conceived in 2019).
This is an understandable statistic, and it’s important that throughout this COVID season, families and friends unite while balancing tough, serious decisions.
It’s no secret that teamwork has always been crucial for success, both at home and in the office. But teamwork has taken on a new set of responsibilities amidst COVID, introducing us to a new quarantine-style effort better known as “quaranteam”.
Communication faces new hurdles, as virtual meetings leave no ability to read body language, to gauge the room, etc. While hurdles are rarely fun, this feat has created a focal point for businesses and companies to discuss better communication strategies, which is healthy for teamwork in the office and teamwork at home.
- Herd Immunity
Initially, herd immunity was unintentional, scientific teamwork brought to you by cows. It was an agricultural tactic to weed out the weak cows and strengthen the healthier cows. This kept the agricultural cycle on track.
With COVID, there have been countless debates about herd immunity: Does it work for humans? Is it moral to try? Immoral to try? A natural, organic path to flattening the curve quicker?
While most of these questions are still up for debate, scientists do know that humans who have contracted the virus have naturally built antibodies, and this is its own form of herd immunity that does strengthen the body against the COVID virus, even if the antibodies are temporary.
- Flattening the Curve
Outside the standard statistical Bell Curve, no one knew about any other curve, let alone entertained the idea of flattening one. Pre-2020, curves weren’t good or bad. They were just curves.
Now, over a year into the pandemic, people have learned that the flatter the curve, the better. If the curve flattens so much that it’s no longer a curve, bingo! This is the chance to return to “normal”.
- New Normal
No one really knows what the new normal is. Is the new normal this current condition where everyone socially distances, wears a mask and cries when their big event gets canceled? Is the new normal something that society accepts? Or pushes past?
While others are more comfortable accepting the idea of a new normal, others believe that the focus should be on the light at the end of the tunnel, when this is all said and done and everyone can return to their routines and rhythms.
Regardless of differing perspectives, it’s safe to say that pandemic times are not normal, and everyone anticipates the day that masks and social distancing are no longer requirements.
This article is not intended for scientific or medical purposes. For current data related to COVID, please visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/