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December 16, 2020

I’ll get straight to the point: A lot happened this year. So much, in fact, that we’ve already forgotten a great deal of it. 

While there are some cultural moments and internet trends that we’ll never be able to forget, despite how much we’d like to—looking at you, Tiger King—there are plenty of others that either faded as quickly as they appeared or simply feel so far in the past that it’s nearly impossible to believe they happened this year

Let’s take a look at some of these moments and see how many you remember. 

1. The Soleimani assassination 

Yes, you might’ve forgotten that we started 2020 on an alarming note that had nothing to do with the then-incubating pandemic. On January 3, a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad assassinated Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani, a key player in Iranian intelligence and security. More than anything, you probably remember the reaction to this news on Twitter, which was very much of the panicked, “Uh, did we just like, go to war?” variety. (#WWIII and #WorldWar3 were trending in no time.) 

2. Iran shooting down a commercial plane 

Barely a week after the Soleimani situation, a Ukranian commercial flight carrying 176 passengers crashed over Iran, killing everyone on board. Shortly thereafter, news broke that Iran admitted to shooting down the plane with a missile because they mistook it for a threat to a nearby sensitive military site. I don’t know about you, but it truly feels like this happened at least three years ago. 

3. The “Megxit” 

Here’s another early 2020 milestone that feels much further in the past. I remember hearing the word “unprecedented” thrown around a lot surrounding the news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were stepping back from their roles in the British Royal Family—little did we know how that word would come back to haunt us so shortly thereafter.

4. Donald Trump’s impeachment trial 

The U.S. House officially impeached Trump in late December, but the entirety of the trial itself was held in January. Before writing this blog, if you’d asked me when the impeachment happened, I probably would have guessed… last November? That feels right. This year? Nope. 

5. #GirlDad 

We definitely did not forget about the tragic death of Kobe Bryant—after all, that’s widely considered the first official Bad Thing on the 2020 timeline. But in the aftermath of the accident, people widely adopted the hashtag #GirlDad to celebrate father-daughter relationships in Bryant’s honor, and the fact that this only started in early 2020 is baffling to me. Something about this trend feels timeless, like it’s been around for much longer. 

6. Large boulder the size of a small boulder 

Remember back when tweets just made us laugh and didn’t carry the weight of life or death?

Back in January, “large boulder size of a small boulder” united us and made us remember why we love the internet. 

7. JLo and Shakira at the Super Bowl 

It’s hard to believe that something as joyful and celebratory as the joint Jennifer Lopez and Shakira Super Bowl halftime show could exist in the same realm as the remainder of 2020, let alone the same year. It also gave us the gif that dominated every Twitter feed for a solid few days before slipping away into the abyss. 

8. “I am once again asking” Bernie 

This meme really takes me back to those last few weeks of normality when we were all in a bit of denial about the threat of the coronavirus disrupting our lives. Not only could you not escape this meme template on social media, you also couldn’t watch a single YouTube video without first seeing the ad from which it originated.  

9. Parasite’s Oscar wins and Bong Joon-ho memes 

South Korea’s Parasite dominating at the Oscars was an incredible moment, but the memes that followed were even better. This is the version of 2020 I want to remember. 

10. Mike Bloomberg’s entire campaign

To be fair, Bloomberg announced his presidential bid in late 2019, but all of the most memorable parts came in 2020. Remember his mass-buy of cringey memes on influencers’ platforms? And the following mass criticism of many of those influencers?

Our own Matthew Ray broke down the absurdity of it all. 

11. Shell becoming “She’ll” for International Women’s Day 

This is one of those things that we purposefully blocked out of our memories as quickly as possible. Shell changing its name to “She’ll” for a single day at one (!!!) station remains one of the most empty, laughable stunts a big corporation has made in a long time. I’m sorry to make you think about it again, but it very much happened. 

12. Harvey Weinstein going to jail  

It was this year, folks. Weinstein’s conviction came right at the beginning of the pandemic. “Ah, finally something good happens!” we said. Sigh. 

13. Gal Gadot’s embarrassing “Imagine” video 

I need not remind you of this one. Talk about something that dropped like a bomb and then (deservedly) faded into oblivion. 

14. That time someone flushed a toilet during a Supreme Court hearing 

Who flush?

15. The birth of X Æ A-Xii 

I feel like this baby should be at least a toddler by now, but he’s only seven months old. Still don’t know how to pronounce his name, though. 

16. Amy Cooper 

This one really broke my brain, guys. If you’d asked me when Amy Cooper became a household name for all of the wrong reasons, I would have guessed…I don’t know, maybe October of 2019? Nope. May 2020, baby. 

17. Launching American astronauts from America for the first time in a decade 

In a rare moment of 2020 optimism, back in May, NASA and SpaceX launched two American astronauts to space from our own turf for the first time since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011 (RIP). The U.S. space program has felt stagnant in recent years, and this was an important first step to getting us to where we really want to go in the next few decades: Mars. 

18. The Phoenix Suns going 8-0 in the NBA bubble 

I’m including this one a little selfishly. I am a lifelong Phoenix Suns fan, and 2020 contained the one (1) good thing that has happened to the franchise in about a decade. When the NBA finished its season in a COVID-safe bubble in Orlando, the Phoenix Suns, who previously held a record of 26-39 for the season, went a perfect 8-0 against all opponents.

Nobody was more surprised by this than the Suns—especially the person behind their Twitter account.

The team made the most of it before receiving the most 2020 ending to the story—still not making the Playoffs despite the achievement.  

19. The NYU quarantine meals 

Logically, I know and accept that the frenetic TikTok documentation of the laughable (but truly inedible) meals NYU freshmen received during a mandatory two-week quarantine in their dorms happened at the beginning of the 2020 fall college semester.

@nautica.n

I’m gonna be S K I N N Y❤️ #nyu #quarantine Freshman-15

♬ 아무노래(Any song) – kozico0914

But the way that it completely took over every TikTok user’s feed for nearly a whole week and then immediately dropped off the radar is wild. What ever happened here? Did someone take responsibility? I hope none of those kids had to pay a dime in meal plans this semester. 

@rico_da_fool

Chicken caesar salad but the chicken caesar salad is silent😌😌😌#nyutiktok #nyu #fyp #expensive #flex

♬ original sound – jinsouls #1 fan

20. Philly’s moment in the spotlight 

Okay, this one is not even a little bit forgotten. We will always remember the legendary Philly memes of the 2020 election. But a roundup of cultural moments in 2020 would simply be incomplete without it. 

If this list inspired at least one gasp, rapid Google search, or “time-is-meaningless” existential crisis, then I’ve done my job. 

It’s hard to believe that a single year could encompass so much, but we got through it. Here’s to a (hopefully) less chaotic 2021.

About the Author

Valerie Hoke

As an associate creative director at ChatterBlast, Valerie leads editorial and strategic efforts companywide. In addition to having a weird lifelong obsession with bagpipes, she likes scouring the city for the best Mexican food and telling people she’s from Arizona.

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