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A view from Michael Sugden: The 10 Covid phrases and words that need binning in 2021

As we adapted to life working under coronavirus conditions, 2020 ushered in a maddening lexicon that, hopefully, can be ditched next year, VCCP Partnership's chief executive writes.

A few years ago, every other agency presentation was entitled “2020 Vision”. They outlined the bold, technologically enhanced nirvana that we could look forward to in the year 2020. Driverless wheelbarrows, smart socks, connected pants, augmented everything. Goodbye teenies and hello 2020. Harmony, happiness and the future – guaranteed.

The reality has, of course, been somewhat different. As coronavirus turned our world upside down and inside out, we adapted our agency lives accordingly. Buoyed by novelty, a glorious spring and takeaway beer in plastic pints, we hesitated – maybe this new world wasn’t so bad?

As the nights close in, however, and our entire professional and social lives are cocooned in screens and pixels, few of us will look back at 2020 with any fondness. Our agency lives are marooned in bedrooms and kitchens and the health, social and economic impact of coronavirus continues to rise.

2020 really is our annus horribilis. The quicker we consign it to history, the better. In my small contribution to erasing our collective memory of this most unsavoury of years, here are the top 10 words and phrases I never, ever, want to hear again.

10. New normal

Aka a “post-Covid world”. For many this should be top of the list but it’s so March 2020. Word is, it’s now about the “next normal”. Keep up.

9. Nice to e-meet you

Is it? Really? I prefer the real thing.

8. Shop streaming

The latest tech trend to be “Covid-accelerated”. As I was reliably informed: “You can now buy a mango off a livestream.” Helpful.

7. Doomscrolling

The endless scrolling through pandemic-filled news feeds.

6. Blursday

We’ve all been there. When those lockdown days all blur into one.

5. Virtual <insert anything>

Add virtual as a prefix to anything and it’s instantly ruined. Time to assign virtual yoga, quizzes and drinks to the bin.

4. Generation Covid

Being assigned to Gen X, Y or Z was bad enough. Pity the souls who now make up Gen Covid.

3. We’re all in this together

Usually expressed by the well-heeled, nestled in their holiday homes.

2. Unprecedented

The Google Analytics chart showing the unprecedented use of “unprecedented” has been a staple in every agency presentation since 23 March.

1. You’re on mute

Followed closely by “Can you see my screen?” and “Can you hear me?” There’s a reason Zoom isn’t in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Because talking to a screen for eight hours a day is an affront to everything that makes us human. Bring on the day we can see each other again in high definition, in 3D, for real.

These are the words and phrases I never want to hear again. Let’s hope 2021 is brighter for us all and we can assign this Covid lexicon to the junkyard.

Michael Sugden is the chief executive of VCCP Partnership.

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