There are a lot of things about 2020 that have been a mystery. In fact, it's been a year that for most of us, little has gone as planned. Whether it's our personal lives, our careers, or our families, pretty much everything has been a bizarre house of mirrors.
At Jacobs Media this year, we've tried to use research to measure and track the mindset of the audience, and their changing media habits. But as telling as these studies have been, they are merely snapshots of moments in time. I'm not convinced many people even know precisely how they're feeling and how that will impact decisions they'll make, whether it's about politics, travel, or holiday shopping. In a roller coaster year, we've done our best to summarize some of these key points in time.
All this uncertainty reminds me of that meme that's gone around social media for much of this year. I'm sure you've seen it, but it's a stark reminder that planning will only get you so far.
We certainly didn't picture ourselves here, that's for sure.
Over this holiday weekend, we're going to see lot of scenes from crowded airports, suggesting that things may be getting back to normal. But they're not. And while there will be throngs of people visiting family members, large Thanksgiving celebrations will most likely be subdued. The virus has picked an especially cruel time for its next wave. For many of us, smaller, closer to home gatherings are in the cards this year.
And while that's not exactly what we planned for, perhaps we won't perfunctorily go through the motions again next year. That's not to say that during past Thanskgiving feasts we haven't been genuinely grateful. But for many people – myself included – it's often a few thankful words, a headlong dive into the food, and watching another crushing Detroit Lions loss at Ford Field.
But not this year. This time, we might actually pause to take a look inside ourselves, at those celebrating with us, and those who are elsewhere, visible only on a Zoom screen. The rituals, the people, the little things we always have taken for granted are more precious now. Sadly, it may have taken a pandemic for us to realize it.
As difficult as this year has been, fighting through COVID, working from home, home schooling, layoffs, furloughs, and the attendant economic crisis, we all have many other people to be thankful for. Truly, health care workers have been in the forefront. But there are also all those essential workers – grocery store and pharmacy employees, postal office workers, police and firefighters, military personnel, and (in my case) baristas – the list goes on. Many of these folks never thought they'd be thrust into these positions where they had to work and also put their health (and their families) at risk.
And at radio stations throughout America (and the world), broadcasters on and off the air have had to play through an especially challenging period. Many have done some of their best work under the worst of conditions.
Personally, I am thankful for all of you – the people we work with and for, my staff in both companies – Jacobs Media and jacapps – who have performed admirably throughout 2020, and of course, all of you who read this blog, cheer it on or chide me when I veer off-course or just piss you off.
In some ways, it has been more challenging to write these posts while this pandemic literally sucks the oxygen out of other topics we used to think were important. But judging by your comments and your feedback, I am also sensing many of you are more engaged than ever before.
For me, it has been an important ritual during a time when structure has never been more important. Things may have changed in a big way this year, but on weekdays at 6:10 am when this blog publishes, there had better be something new for you to read.
As I have firmly believed since all hell broke lose 10 months ago, we will emerge from this. And we will look back at this year – and even this Thanksgiving – as a marker in time.
Over the course of these long months, lots of different song lyrics have ricocheted in my head – but none more frequent than Kelly Clarkson's stark reminder:
“What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.”
I find myself uttering them, often under my breath, more and more these days. Eerily and sadly, perhaps, those words ring truer today than when she wrote them a decade ago.
As painful as this time has been for so many, it hopefully will make us more sensitive to and aware of those around us, and those we serve – our audience, our advertisers, our communities.
And hopefully, we'll also feel that sense of gratitude and appreciation for our families, our friends, and those in our orbits.
And yes, more thankful.
Have a wonderful, peaceful, and safe holiday weekend. JacoBLOG will be back on Monday with a new post – no leftovers here.