Reading year-end lists of the best reportage, books, albums, shows, even words, can really give one a sense of having missed most of what happened during the year—and this is definitely a year that has gone by while we watched from balconies, windows and screens. This Lounge year-end issue tries to capture the big shifts that have happened in our lives in the past 10 months, and look at what we might encounter in the year ahead.
When we were first sent home to work, most of us thought we would be back in a few weeks, but as the months went by, we realised that work was changing and would continue to do so. Meetings would be more unwieldy and the hours longer; we would miss some colleagues, find empathy for others we had little patience with earlier; rack up more screen hours than ever before; and have a confounding number of work WhatsApp groups on our phones. At the start of the pandemic, when panic about “the new normal” was at its peak among companies, I was commissioning stories on teams adjusting to new circumstances, virtual onboarding, and companies learning to manage new recruits from afar. By the end of the year, I was one of those people working with a team I hadn’t met, each adjusting to the other’s quirks and peculiarities while carrying on as if all this was perfectly natural.
It’s sometimes hard to look beyond the personal in a year that has demanded fortitude from everyone, but in this issue Lounge writers have aimed to capture the way we have embraced technology, how our relationships with each other have changed, the people who have made a difference with their generosity and commitment, the resilience we have built, the peace we have made with failure, the whimsical indulgences that kept us going, and crucially, what hasn’t changed in a year of big shifts.
In many ways, the pandemic has led to reverses—in not just the economy and employment, but also in schooling, opportunities for equal access and social justice. And so, it has also been a year of shouting to be heard. Despite the pandemic precautions and enforced distancing, people have still braved the virus and the state to come out and demand their rights. Movements against racism, state brutality and restrictive governments, and for women’s rights, freedom, equal work and pay, often led by young people, have gathered force across the world. This year-end issue reflects anger, anxiety and moments of joy, much like the year we are finally seeing off.
Write to the Lounge editor firstname.lastname@example.org @shalinimb