• Michael Weinberg

2020: Year in review

A pandemic, a record-breaking hurricane season, racial injustice and social awareness, a U.S. presidential election. No doubt there will be books, docuseries, and horror movies about 2020. Perhaps it seems redundant to talk about the jam-packed year we all have experienced. The thing is, though, that 2020 was an incredibly defining era for a lot of people (including me). It has been nail-biting, unifying, heart-wrenching, and hopeful, and—maybe more than anything—a valuable lesson for the people of Earth.

Here are some of the events that have been burned into our brains this year (and how they made us feel). Think of this as a visual journey via tweets.

COVID-19 Pandemic

Surely the most talked about event of the year was the pandemic, which is still going on all over the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are over 77 million confirmed cases and nearly over 1.7 million deaths worldwide,* most of them here in the western hemisphere. Below are early reactions to the pandemic.

For a complete timeline of the coronavirus/COVID pandemic, click here.

*Keep in mind that, according to The New York Times, the US has reported over 330,000 deaths from COVID. To put that in perspective, that number is equivalent to nearly four UF’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadiums at full capacity.

Some people took it seriously from the start:

And some people coped with humor:

And soon, it seemed everyone had a connection to COVID:

Eventually (and quite recently), vaccines for the virus have started becoming available for those who need it the most (i.e., healthcare workers and the elderly):

And when December 25 rolled around, “COVID-safe” Christmas was a thing—at least for those heeding health officials’ warnings:

The pandemic is still very much alive, however, but like everyone else on this planet, I am eager to see its end in 2021. Continue to stay safe and follow the guidelines!

Impactful Deaths

Many iconic public figures passed away this year. Below are some of the most impactful deaths (and lives) of 2020. Click for a full list of 2020 celebrity deaths.

Kobe Bryant:

In what seemed to set the tone for a bleak year, Kobe Bryant died January 26 along with his daughter Gianna and seven other passengers in a helicopter crash in California. The world lost a sports icon early in the year. Even if you don’t watch NBA basketball, you most likely know of Kobe Bryant.

George Floyd:

George Floyd was a Black man from Minneapolis who was killed by a police officer, Derek Chauvin, on May 25 this year. His death, caught on video, triggered nation- and worldwide protests about racial issues and police brutality.

Other victims who died in 2020 also fueled the Black Lives Matter movement. These include Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, both also killed earlier this year, Arbery while out running in his neighborhood and Taylor while sleeping in her apartment.

Below are some tweets from this year that show the pain that Floyd’s death caused.

John Lewis:

On July 17 this year, John Lewis, former US Representative, succumbed to pancreatic cancer. Lewis’s death touched politicians and ordinary American citizens across the country as they lost a civil rights leader and hero. In 2018, he was quoted from a tweet in which he said to “get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” With a title based on this quote, a documentary of Lewis’s achievements was made this year.

Below is Lewis’s tweet from 2018 as well as reactions from President Donald Trump and Former President Barack Obama.

Chadwick Boseman:

On August 28 this year, legendary actor Chadwick Boseman died at 43 from colon cancer. Not only was his death a shock, as he kept his cancer diagnosis hidden from the public, but it left a gaping hole for the film community. His work includes 42, Get on Up, Black Panther, and his last film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, released this month on Netflix.

Below is a tweet from Boseman’s official account addressing his untimely death. It currently has the most likes (7.5 million) on Twitter, showing the immense impact he had as an actor.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an idolized US Supreme Court Justice, died from pancreatic cancer on September 18 this year. Though she died at 87, Ginsburg is missed by those who saw her as a feminist powerhouse, elevating rights for women through her Supreme Court votes.

Click here to watch Ginsburg become the first woman to lie in state at the US Capitol.

Natural Disasters

As if the pandemic wasn’t enough of a burden, people all over the world suffered through natural disasters unlike any seen before. Below is a tweet from the end of January this year, predicting a hectic year. Click for a more complete list of the disasters that occurred in 2020 around the world (natural or otherwise).

2020 Hurricane Season:

In the end, 2020’s Atlantic hurricane season (June 1 - November 30) was the most active ever on record with 30 named storms affecting areas from the southeast United States to Central America. According to NPR, there was “between $35 billion and $40 billion” in damages from the hurricanes and tropical storms this year, which is surprisingly less than the damages from the 2017 hurricane season ($200 billion).

2019-2020 Australia Bushfires:

In a horrific display of orange and red, Australia’s bushfires erupted in September 2019 and died down in March 2020. The fires, mostly in New South Wales and Victoria, killed 33 people and destroyed over 3,000 Australian houses. There was also an estimated one billion animals killed by the fires as well. Videos of people saving animals like koalas from the fires started to pop up on social media.

California Fires:

The largest wildfire season in the west coast in modern history is still burning California. In October, CNN reported that the wildfires in California had burned four million acres, more than doubling the previous record from 2018. There are also an estimated 31 deaths from these fires, a similar tragedy to the Australian bushfires.

2020 US Presidential Election:

Joe Biden won the election over incumbent president Donald Trump with most votes ever for a US president: over 80 million. Biden and Trump (with over 74 million votes) both broke Barack Obama’s record (over 69 million) for most votes cast. Overall, voter turnout, at about 66%, was at its highest in 120 years, when the 1900 election yielded about 74% voter turnout.

This election was highly contested, and $8.5 billion spent on political advertising in the 2019-2020 election cycle. That’s “30% higher than the $6.7 billion projected earlier this year,” according to Forbes. This election also marked a much higher spend for digital political ads. Digital ads spiked from 2-3% of the political ad spend in the 2015-2016 cycle to 18% this cycle.

This election was also interesting because of the notion of widespread voter fraud. Trump insisted that the election was fraudulent, pointing to mail-in ballots (which grew in popularity this year due to the threat of COVID) as being unreliable. Despite the allegations, however, no fraud has been discovered.

Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris, will be the first female vice president, the first Black vice president, and the first Asian American vice president. Her tweet, in reference to the news of Biden’s win, is the fifth most-liked tweet on Twitter with 3.3 million likes. It’s also a pretty funny video.

Looking Ahead

All in all, 2020 was (and is) a year of lessons. We learned to get creative, even with limited resources. We learned to cherish the time spent with family, even if it was over a Zoom call. We learned about racial injustice, and we learned that there is so much left to learn. We learned that every vote counts. We learned that climate change is becoming a more imminent threat. We learned that nobody’s life is guaranteed tomorrow, and we learned to live them anyway.

We also learned something new about ourselves this year, and that lesson varies for everyone. 2020 will forever be the year of introspection and life changes. And with that, let us look forward with hope—and new knowledge—to 2021.

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