We’ve seen the OG cottagecore, the earthy escapism of goblincore, the straight-up weirdness of weirdcore, the fantastical adventures of cyptidcore explorers, the goth-punk-metal hybrid that is gothcore, the gorpcore obsession with the great outdoors, the romantic whimsy of lovecore, kidcore’s incredibly viral internet aesthetic, and let’s not forget the bizarre Britishcore, take turns at flooding our Instagram and TikTok feeds. Now, there’s yet another bizarre internet trend joining this incredibly long list and some claim it’s not as innocent as the others. Introducing the wildest and perhaps most problematic yet: 2020core.
First discovered and reported on by The Tab, 2020core is a new trend that seeks to commemorate and romanticise the horror that was the 2020 lockdown. We love to be nostalgic, that part is not new, but what such unadulterated affection for the past (however recent) can do is problematically ignore the troubling realities of the times we remember. Take the resurgence of everything Y2K for example—people glorify the aesthetic of the low-rise jeans now and forget the eating disorder combo that often came with it. Yeah, reliving your childhood by buying a pair of jelly shoes is nice… until you realise how bad they are for the environment. Basically, you’re going to have to take those rose-tinted glasses off eventually.
The same goes for 2020core, but first, let’s look at what it’s actually about.
The 2020core trend involves a nostalgic look back at some of the most prevalent internet and parasocial moments of the first lockdowns in early 2020. The whipped coffees, banana bread-baking, Zoom quizzes, all-night online calls, socially-distanced walks and DIY crafts that took up our days, all the while Doja Cat’s Say So played endlessly in the background. Such moments are perhaps permanently etched into the minds of those who spent those months living on the internet.
The trend which largely only lives on TikTok, The Tab noted, involves a longing for the “long summer days, sparse social interaction and plenty of one-on-one time made for the ultimate ‘introvert’s vacation’… socially distanced walks, late bedtimes, eating dinner in the garden and spending all day learning TikTok dances are just some of the things people have confessed to missing about the first lockdown.” Perhaps it’s a callback to when times were simpler, when we bonded with our own communities and simultaneously revelled in our alone time. When we were able to chase hobbies and enjoy a slower pace of life but, like I said, take the rose-tinted glasses off—it wasn’t all that simple.
Many have noted the problematic nature of this niche trend. 2020 wasn’t fun for most people. It wasn’t fun for the world. Many lost their lives, lost their homes, lost their jobs and even lost their sanity. The harsh realities of what 2020 was—lest we forget the traumas of that summer on the black community—are still impacting people today. It’ll haunt us for decades to come. While the trend may be an innocent, or more accurately naive, fad that has its expressive validity, it is important to note the privilege that comes with it.