2020 Review: a positive spin on a horrible thing

✏️ 2020 has been a swine of a year. Rather than dwell on the negatives I wanted to share some of the positives.

The majority of 2020 has been dire. FACT. Nobody needs another blog post to flog that dead horse. So here’s the reminder to myself that it wasn’t all that bad.

To help ease the pain of solitude of my 9yo boy during lockdown no.1, I brushed up on my system admin skills and setup a Minecraft server for him and his pals. Watching their beaming smiles as they slaughtered pigs and detonated TNT was a thing of pure joy. I never thought I would be so moved by a computer game, I was wrong.

One of the great things about working as a researcher at an agency is getting out of the office to meet clients and their customers. I really missed this during 2020. Going fully remote offered up the challenge of including clients in the journey of research activities. I found that you could livestream Zoom meetings over Youtube helping to bring our team and clients together. This has now become the default way of conducting research at Clearleft for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately the lockdown meant that we couldn’t properly celebrate the Clearleft 15th birthday or get together before we broke for Christmas. Invitations to these events normally extend to past Clearlefties, freelancers and friends so it was a double blow. As a little gift from me to my work pals I created a little showreel of festive messages from past and present friendly folks. Thanks to everyone who sent a message, it really cheered us up!

2020 has been a rollercoaster of emotions. One way I tried to deal with the downs was to fight misery with humour. I’d created a blooper reel of my Tiny Lesson: How to run a BERT test so as lockdown broke back in March, I popped it on Slack. It got a few giggles.

Along the theme of the ridiculous, I also nominated myself to host the Thursday Afternoon Meeting (TAM) where the Clearleft folk casually debrief the week. My first attempt was an off-the-wall Crystal Maze style game over Miro. IT WAS AN ABSOLUTE DISASTER!!! Not being deterred, I ran a second game during our remote Christmas party. It was a Challenge Aanneka style URL treasure hunt over the internet. This one work much better and seemed to go down a storm.

Although this, mostly self deprecating, humour went toward healing some of the pain 2020 brought. I learned a valuable lesson of how the subtleties of non-verbal communication are lost over purely digital interaction.

Somewhat related to this was the Diversity and Inclusion workshop I attended at Clearleft. I found it to be the single most valuable thing I have ever participated in last year. It opened up all sorts of new thinking and dialogue. A HUGE thank you to the very openminded and honest people I work with, you are brilliant!

2020 has exposed the things that are most important to me; my family, my home and natural surroundings, striving for a work/life balance, being kind to myself physically and mentally. It’s also helped me reconnect with some old passions, one being making mixtapes. Here’s my half-finished 2020 mixtape.

So what of 2021? Likely more of the same.