Welcome to the end of the world… or, at the very least, what certainly felt like it. This is a curated look back at thirty-three events from throughout 2020 that defined the year as an unpredictable, chaotic mess.
WARNING: This project contains use of vulgar language, and imagery that some may consider intense or disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.
On December 31, 2019, my family returned home after an exhausting two day road trip from Florida. Following our first proper night’s sleep in over forty-eight hours, we recuperated and rang in the new year, watching as the ball dropped in Times Square to signal the start of another decade.
That same day, something ominous was discovered in the city of Wuhan, China: an unknown disease. Sharing similarities with pneumonia, a small cluster of people had become infected with it after visiting a local fish market. We didn’t know it then, but that revelation was the first domino to fall in what was to become one of the most unprecedented and unfathomable years on record: 2020.
As it began, all was quiet apart from a handful of significant moments, but everything changed on March 11, when the World Health Organization announced this pathogen – now identified as a novel coronavirus and given the name COVID-19 – had become a pandemic. Our modern world ground to a halt, and entered uncharted territory.
Recognizing a downward trend, and knowing that declaration could only mean the start of something worse, I took it upon myself to keep track of major news stories I happened to hear about until the end of the year. I set up a note on my phone and wrote down what I could, even going so far as to give the project a nickname: The Apocalypse Calendar. That note was unsourced and unfiltered, but eventually grew to include approximately one hundred and sixty-six stories. It was my own personal archive of the end of the world, and now it’s time to share it with you.
What stands before you now is the final step in the project’s evolution. Over the course of the past two semesters, and countless hours of research, I have narrowed down that list to just thirty-three entries, each one selected to highlight why 2020 was a year of improbability, madness, and at points, outright disaster.