While many of us probably don’t want to be reminded of the terrible whirlwind this year has been, we think it’s important to reflect on the impact that 2020 has had on us and work through some of the major events (good and bad) of 2020 together. And, no, we aren’t trying to make anyone depressed here. Reflecting on these events can help us move on from the taxing year 2020 has been, and into what is, hopefully, a joyful and restorative 2021.
Of course this isn’t a definitive list of everything that has happened; we’ll be focusing on some of the biggest events that impacted our teens and families.
Major events in 2020
January 3: Assassination of Qasem Soleimani
Days after the start of a new year, we learned that the Iranian General, Qasem Soleimani, was assassinated by the US government. Soon after, #WWIII and #FranzFerdinand were trending on Twitter, showing people’s concern about what could be a devastating repeat of history. Many Gen Zers were already feeling hopeless, scared, and uncertain of what their lives would look like in 2020. Little did we know that this was setting the tone for an entirely different type of world war: a global pandemic.January 16: Trump faced an impeachment trial
Some Democrats rejoiced in the possibility that Trump would be removed from office before the election while many Republicans defended him. However, on February 5, he was acquitted and saw through to his full presidential term. This trial revealed many voters’ true feelings about Trump’s presidency. Whether they supported or despised him, it geared voters up for the election that was to come.January 26: Death of Kobe Bryant
Sports fans and non-sports fans alike felt the loss of Kobe and his daughter Gianna (Gigi). The two were taking a helicopter to Gigi’s tournament with fellow players when the pilot lost control of the aircraft, crashing into the hills below. Their deaths were the first of several major celebrities and political figures to die from a non-COVID related tragedy in 2020. The news of the crash weighed heavily on everyone as we remembered his legacy, and mourned the lives lost too soon.
March: The rise of TikTok
It’s hard to believe that TikTok was once low on the social media totem pole. As everyone was ordered to stay at home, TikTok quickly rose to the top as it distracted us from the unfortunate reality that we were all living in. Even millennials and older generations stopped mocking its videos and made their own accounts. Before we knew it, almost everyone was invested in TikTok culture, making these events widely influential:
- Charli D’Amelio became the most popular person on TikTok. Within months, Charli went from being a normal teenager to the single most popular Gen Z influencer. By November 2020, D’Amelio broke 100 million followers.
- Trump issued a TikTok ban. On August 6, Trump officially initiated a ban on TikTok over concerns that this Chinese-based app was a security threat to America. At first, Gen Z was on the edge of their seats, wondering “Is TikTok banned yet?” and “Will there be a replacement after it’s gone?” day after day. If the ban passed, teens would lose a major source of community, a safe space to vent and be creative, a lifeline in the pandemic. But after several close calls and fall throughs, TikTok is still up and running. The ban is still pending, but the demand to have an app like TikTok isn’t going away anytime soon.
March 1: Australian bushfires
After a lightning strike hit a drought-ridden forest in Australia in September 2019, large bushfires broke out across the country that continued into 2020. This disastrous scene caused many young people to spread awareness and donate to Australia’s cause. Although it proved devastating for many Australians, it brought people together across the world. It wasn’t until a heavy rain on March 1 that the country was completely free of wildfires. The damage that Australia endured from these fires is irreversible and traumatic for its residents and wildlife. But what seemed to be a never-ending problem shockingly found peace and hope for restoration in 2020.March 11: WHO official pandemic declaration
The virus had begun to reach serious levels, and the rumors of its impact forced many in our nation to face the reality of the situation. Once the disease became a pandemic, no one could escape the drastic change coming to societies all around the world.March 19: US lockdown
Public spaces were shut down, travel restrictions were issued in state after state, and everyone deemed “non-essential personnel” was ordered to stay home and follow CDC quarantine guidelines. In some way or another, we were all faced with a new way of living that we’re still adjusting to today.
In many ways the lockdown defined 2020. We endured the loss of loved ones, quarantines, and coped with loneliness, disappointments, canceled events, and so much more. But we found ways to cope, and even thrive, despite the overwhelming circumstances. While the statistics on mental health in America are disheartening, we are growing in awareness and supporting each other now more than ever.March: Air pollution levels began to decrease around the world
When Nga Lee “Sally” Ng said “It’s a weird opportunity,” she couldn’t have said it more accurately. While we were dealing with unprecedented circumstances, we were apparently helping the environment. People in India, for example, could see the Himalayas for the first time in decades due to decreased air pollution—another bit of silver lining during an otherwise bleak period.April 27: UFO videos released
After everything the US had already been through by this point, UFOs were just another random surprise that we never saw coming. Memers and teens noted that the government released videos of UFOs, and literally no one cared.May: ‘Murder hornets’ found in the US
The events of this year already had people wondering “What could possibly happen now?” And much like the UFO videos, murder hornets weren’t as surprising as they should have been. Scientists were hunting and eliminating their nests, hoping to stop these two-inch terrors from spreading before they added any more grief and stress to American families.May 25: Death of George Floyd
Geroge Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake… the list goes on. Their deaths sparked major protests and riots throughout the nation, moving more people to advocate for justice. Although movements for Black equality have been around for a long time, it wasn’t until George Floyd’s death that the media started giving this issue major coverage. Phrases like “Black Lives Matter,” which has been an active organization since 2013, and “All Lives Matter” became popular, yet controversial statements that reflected the classic blue vs. red political battle.May 30: NASA launched historic mission SpaceX
2020 proved to be no match for NASA and crew Dragon this year as they launched SpaceX for a test flight. For the first time in over a decade, families around the nation huddled in front of their televisions to witness an awe-inspiring rocket launch once again.
June 15: US Supreme Court declared LGBTQ+ members protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act
This Act ensured that people who identify as LGBTQ+ were not allowed to be discriminated against in the workforce, providing the community with nation-wide job stability.
June 19: Juneteenth
Civil unrest rose to the forefront of the media, gaining Juneteenth more recognition than ever before. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Union General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas on June 19 (aka Juneteenth), freeing the remaining 250,000 slaves. As Americans look to rectify the tragic events that happened in Black history, more people are wanting to know how to celebrate Juneteenth and recognize a huge win for the Black community.
August: California wildfires
A severe lightning storm caused a breakout of 650 Californian wildfires in mid-August. The state’s governor declared a state of emergency on August 18 followed by Trump’s authorization of government assistance to contain the outbreak. As California’s wildfire season and drought continue, concerns about global warming worry many throughout the nation.November 3: US Election 2020, Trump vs Biden
On top of it all, 2020 was an election year that further polarized our nation. With prolonged vote counts and constantly fluctuating results, even Gen Zers who were too young to vote were watching the election with bated breath. Record numbers of people who are passionate about our country’s future registered to vote. Gen Z also made light of the situation by making political memes and supporting each other on TikTok.September: Schools went back in session
Parents from all different backgrounds struggled to find stability between in-person and online schooling. Even parents who were accustomed to homeschooling encountered new challenges with finding social outlets outside of the family for their kids. These challenges, paired with the continuing struggles of loneliness, isolation and a loss of structure, pushed many families to the edge.
September 18: Death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a beloved political figure in pop culture. Her powerful presence as a US Supreme Court justice allowed her to pursue her passions for gender equality in significant ways. RBG’s death added stress to both liberals and conservatives alike, as they were left wondering who would be her replacement and how this would affect the political dynamics of America’s government.December 14: First round of Coronavirus vaccines
The long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines are finally here, but it’s not exactly providing the lightning-fast solution we were hoping for. Despite numerous vaccines being administered all over the US, we likely still have months to go in our battle with the pandemic. Cases are rumored to continue rising, and many states may decide to reinstate lockdown rules. But several vaccinations are being administered worldwide and there is hope on the horizon. While this isn’t exactly the finish line, it’s possibly a huge step in the right direction as we enter 2021.
Gen Z impact
From practicing TikTok dances to protesting in the streets to sitting at home bored, Gen Z has experienced one of the most memorable years yet. 2020 has reshaped how our kids view the world—but exactly how was Gen Z affected by this year? What stories will they take away from all the chaos? Only a few things are certain: much of Gen Z learned how to be persistent, self-reliant, and hopeful in an otherwise hopeless situation. As for the rest, only time can tell how Gen Z will move on from this year.
One such ray of hope came in the form of Bible searches. According to a Bible Gateway study, 2020 saw a major uptick in searches on four themes: “social,” “pandemic,” “political,” and “end times.” Even though some of these themes aren’t the cheeriest, it reveals that people are turning to the Bible for answers on their most pressing concerns and issues. We can take this as a huge sign of hope as we continue into the new year, because God’s Word is a leading resource for Americans to rely on for guidance during major life events. But it’s easy to fall into the habit of only going to God during hard times. While this study may be a reflection of that, it may also be a window for many to start a deeper, ongoing relationship with Him.
So, as we leave 2020 behind us, we need to remember that 2021 isn’t going to be a hard reset where everything is automatically restored. We have to make it better ourselves. Luckily, our hope and joy is rooted in God, not the constantly-changing world.
Looking for more to reflect on as we enter the new year? Here’s a list of our top 5 blog posts from 2020!
- Teen Slang | 2020 Glossary
- 14 Things to Do with Teens if you’re Quarantined for COVID-19
- An Open Letter from Our Co-Founders About Racism
- How to Customize Your iOS 14 Home Screen
- The Ultimate Guide to TikTok Slang 2020