I’m convinced no one ever organically used the term “cheugy.” Or at least it’s a thing millennials heard Zoomers say far more than Zoomers ever said it among themselves.
We all read that same New York Times article. Our parents asked if we had heard the term before and of course we hadn’t, which kicked off a vicious cycle of overcompensation. Every friend group had to have “the cheugy talk.” Nobody knows what qualifies … that’s the point. "Tiger King"? Probably cheugy. Chipotle? Cheugy if you ask for a tortilla on the side. Naming your golden retriever puppy Cuomo? Formerly cheugy; now, just unsettling.
Millennials came up with “basic,” “cringe,” “sketch” and, some would even say, “lol.” We had a good run. But now we face a choice: gracefully accept our impending cultural irrelevance or insist that “cheugy” is still a thing. I say we opt for the former. Go gentle into that dark night, and slink home to “Netflix and chill” with "The Office" reruns for the umpteenth time. There needn’t be shame in passing the torch.
In this spirit of new beginnings and continuous improvement, here’s a list of everything else that would best be left in 2021.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club
I’ve come to terms with the fact that NFTs aren’t going away in 2022, but can we at least cool it with the monkeys … sorry, apes? The cheapest Bored Ape NFT will run you around $300,000. (Screenshots are free, of course.) Surely a trend spearheaded by both Jimmy Fallon and Mark Cuban can’t last much longer.
Remember that meeting when everyone figured out how to use Zoom filters? There were the sunglasses, the mustache, the pizza-forehead, even an N-95 mask that nobody asked for. Good times. The novelty probably wore off by late 2020, so I think we can safely proclaim Zoom filters would best be left in 2021. Goodbye, sweet prince (2020-2021). And to be clear, this doesn’t apply to Zoom backgrounds, which still serve the very necessary function of blocking out your semi-nude uncle who just had to ask how long Totino’s Pizza Rolls take to cook before he hopped in the shower.
Can anyone spare a Clubhouse invitation? I’ve been meaning to check it out, all the VCs are talking about it … oh, wait, what’s this? Twitter Spaces? Instagram Live Rooms? Facebook Live Audio Rooms? Discord? Ah, OK, never mind then. But best of luck to all parties involved, because moderating live audio rooms has turned out to be quite the nightmare.
I’m not sure who’s still holding out hope for a COVID-free return to office, but things aren’t looking good. Omicron is raging. Protocol’s return to work calendar officially extends into 2023. As Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman recently put it, “everybody’s still finding their way and then you get the omicron variant; who knows, we’ll have pi, we’ll have theta and epsilon, and we’ll eventually run out of letters in the alphabet.” At this point, why keep up the ruse of certainty? Return dates are useful if they’re accurate, but to be accurate employers need to ignore developing circumstances in favor of sticking with The Plan. I expect companies will increasingly adopt indefinite remote-work policies with the promise of providing advance notice before requiring a return.
Caring about 5G
It’s been nearly three years since 5G smartphones started coming out, and we’re still waiting for the “killer app.” The jump from 3G to 4G has been credited with enabling ride-hailing, Snapchat, FaceTime and mobile navigation services. With 5G, telecoms are hoping that maybeAR glasses will become socially acceptable (Glassholes still haunt the public consciousness). Sure it might be nice to download an entire TV season in 33.6 seconds, but most of us are just fine streaming episodes or downloading them over Wi-Fi.
Meta paused development on Instagram Kids after The Wall Street Journal published leaked internal research that found “teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression.” Still, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri was sure to emphasize that the delay wasn’t “an acknowledgement that the project is a bad idea,” but rather an opportunity to “demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today.” Mosseri added: “[T]he reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today.”
The YouTube 'dislike'
Some people would say I’m in denial about the death of the YouTube dislike display. I would introduce those people to a certain Chrome extension. YouTube said it removed dislikes to “protect our creators from harassment.” In my experience, however, almost all of the heavily disliked videos came from multinational corporate media outlets (e.g., the beautiful disaster that was YouTube Rewind 2018). YouTube could have selectively removed dislikes for independent creators, but instead it completely nixed one of the primary means of selecting videos. This whole debacle serves as a reminder that viewers aren’t YouTube’s customers, they’re part of the product. The experiential divide will further grow along tech-savvy lines: The extension crowd (equipped with ad-block and “Return YouTube Dislikes'') will have a hard time fathoming how everyone else tolerates the platform. Meanwhile, everyone else will put up with it because there are no true alternatives.
So long, 2021. Hello, 2022 🥳
How to spend your holiday season
The 18 books VCs think startup founders need to read
Sci-fi and Genghis Khan: Here’s what tech CEOs read in 2021
10 books to rehabilitate the tech doomer in your life
10 tech movies to watch this holiday season
What people in tech are cooking up this holiday season, 2021 edition
So long, 2021
Our favorite Protocol long-reads from 2021
The breakthrough list: 11 people who had a big 2021
This was the year tech workers found their power
2021 Chinese tech predictions that were wrong — or surprising
Crypto and gaming collided in 2021
How Chinese tech companies took over the world in 2021
The pettiest tech moments of 2021
Clubhouse, saying ‘cheugy’ and everything else we should leave in 2021
The biggest tech Twitter trends of 2021
Gary Gensler's top moments on crypto in 2021
China's nationalistic cancel culture was out of control in 2021
The best of the internet in 2021
What tech CEOs said this year (or, earnings calls crunched by AI)
How 2021 changed the way we work forever
A love letter to developers making weird things on the internet
Crypto payments will definitely, maybe, possibly go mainstream in 2022
Productivity tools to look out for in 2022
The 2022 predictions experts are most confident in
10 people to watch in the coming crypto-regulation showdown
When will the global chip shortage end?
What the good children of tech want from policymakers next year