Coexist, Division, Broadcasting, Fragility, Distance, Ahead. These are our words for 2021. - Rossetti Brand Design

Words for 2021

Coexist. It takes courage to live with something that measures between 60 and 140 nanometres (1 nanometre = a millionth of a millimetre) but has the capacity to unleash pandemonium. In fact, it’s lethal, is airborne, meaning that you risk breathing in disaster. Sure, we have said that we need to live with, not fight against. But a battle against the invisible is not a fair fight: in terms of insidiousness and strength, Covid-19 is superior, so we are obliged to play in defence, barricade ourselves in. And above all, it unleashes the fear of suffering or dying.

Division. Like all viruses, it makes no social distinctions, reactions to its effects are not the same for everyone, and for some it signals the end. But the virus does its job as a parasite and the result is division, not its, but ours. On one side we have the terrorised, on the other the reckless, and, in between, the worried, the cautious, the fatalists, the sceptics and so on: we are divided, a tactical and strategic error. Sticking together means welcoming our diversity. Fear is a part of us, so it makes no sense to use it to recriminate or condemn in order to be on one side or the other.

Broadcasting. As the virus takes its course, our division generates confusion. And the noise is amplified. On social media we are all broadcasters of news, both good and bad, true and false, all mixed up together. The mix varies according to what we feel and what we broadcast as a result: if you are terrified, you will be a broadcaster of terror. In the name of sharing, we produce scraps of media content that float across our conscience. What’s left is a panorama based on distorted information that can only be read approximately. Facts are facts, how they are read does not always reflect what they are.

Fragility. So, the emotional front is fragile, the picture is complex, the future uncertain. To these difficulties must be added the conflicting opinions of those who should offer us certainties and reassurance: those who operate the levers in this silent storm. Unfortunately, this is not the case. On the bridge, decisions must be taken faster than the spread of the virus: an impossible demand, even on paper.

Distance. To slow down the stubborn propagation, we mask-up to avoid “spitting in our faces” and transforming our cities into unlimited recovery areas outside hospitals. Mistaking it the physical equivalent, we praise “social distancing”, forgetting that physical and social distance are two different things, just like “remote working” and “’smart’ working”. In other words, no longer pay attention to the use of words that still confuse us. The greatest distance, however, risks being the distance from ourselves; losing the inner centre, which is our base, as we seek the protection of domestic caves while trusting in a redeeming technology.

Ahead. While remaining in a cave has a useful function, we can also see that – in the big picture – many roads are closed off. We can also call them habits, or narrow views, comfort zones, models… whatever we prefer. But at the same time, other new and uncertain ways are opening up. To move forward, we need to be able to distinguish between true and false, refine our intuition