The defining cultural moments of the UK’s first 100 days of lockdown
As the UK surpasses 100 days spent in lockdown, Stylist reflects on the cultural rollercoaster we’ve experienced over the last three months.
As you’re probably already aware, today marks 100 days since the UK first went into lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. In that time, a lot has changed. The strict rules that came into place on 23 March feel like a distant memory, and the days of daily press conferences – with their slightly terrifying graphs and warnings from Chris Whitty – are no longer.
The past 100 days have been a time of powerful public conversation. Alongside discussions about the coronavirus pandemic – and critiques of the government’s handling of the crisis – the death of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has seen the world mobilise for change in a way which has never been seen before.
But public conversation during this time has also been scattered with lighter cultural moments, as people across the UK have looked to build their person versions of a ‘new normal’ during their time at home.
From conversations about sourdough starters to virtual pub quizzes and TikTok hacks, lockdown culture has served as a testament to what happens when the minds of thousands of incredibly bored, frustrated and, frankly, overwhelmed people come together.
As we pass this milestone in our lockdown journey, we’re marking the occasion by looking back at the weird and wonderful trends that have emerged since 23 March. So without further ado, get ready to take a trip down memory lane.
It landed on Netflix three days before the UK went into lockdown, but that didn’t stop Tiger King from becoming the first big obsession of our time at home.
It wasn’t long before Carole Baskin memes and Joe Exotic haircuts became the talk of everyone’s social media feeds, and “hey all you cool cats and kittens” became the only acceptable way to start Friday night’s Zoom call.
2.Our obsession with Zoom
On that note, our obsession with Zoom came pretty quickly after lockdown was first introduced. What was once an obscure platform used exclusively by businesspeople became the place to be on a Saturday night – from Zoom drinks to Zoom pub quizzes and even Zoom murder mysteries, if you didn’t have a call scheduled for every waking hour, who were you?
3.Reading and watching all the dystopian content we could get our hands on
As if the real world wasn’t serving us enough ‘end of the world’ vibes, someone decided it was a good idea for us all to start cramming all the apocalyptic pop culture we could get our hands on. Suddenly, everyone was reading Station’s Eleven or watching Contagion, because consuming stories about everyone dying because of a deadly virus while people really are dying from a dead virus is apparently comforting or something?
4.Everyone signing up to Houseparty – and then panicking and deleting it when it got ‘hacked’
Remember when we were all obsessed with Houseparty and then suddenly panicked because some said it got ‘hacked’ and everyone thought they’d been scammed? Yeah, that was a moment.
Amid the chaos of the pandemic and the rollercoaster of emotions we were experiencing in lockdown, the adorable world of Animal Crossing became a respite from reality for those people lucky enough to get their hands on a Nintendo Switch.
The relaxing music and pandemic-free islands made Animal Crossing the perfect antidote to the outside world. People even went as far to host everything from graduations to birthday parties in the game – it was all incredibly wholesome.
The only thing more relatable than tweeting a Carole Baskin meme or posting a screenshot of your Zoom call on Instagram stories in the first few weeks of lockdown was, of course, investing in some uber-comfortable #loungewear. From satin soft leggings to luxury slippers, we wanted it all.
7.Signing up to online courses – and then not doing any of them
Let’s get real for a second: how many people actually completed the Yale Happiness Course they signed up to in week one of lockdown? Enough said.
8.Becoming obsessed with Joe Wicks
There was that moment at the beginning of lockdown when Joe Wicks suddenly became the most famous man in Britain, with adults and children alike joining in with his daily ‘P.E. classes’ and many of us (including Stylist’s Hollie Richardson) falling head over heels for the entire Wicks family.
If your Instagram feed wasn’t filled with shots of sourdough starters and random loaves for the entirety of April, you can count yourself lucky. Without warning, everything suddenly became about bread – from loaves you can make without yeast (there were shortages, people!) to focaccia art, people were obsessed.
10.Trying every TikTok ‘hack’ under the sun
What do Dalgona coffee, bathrobe curls and ‘filtered foundation’ have in common? They all started on TikTok. As boredom struck and we looked for activities to fill our time at home, the social media app surged in popularity, particularly for its cult recipes and genius beauty hacks. And if none of that is up your street, there’s always the dog videos.
11.Jacinda Ardern being an absolute legend
As we lamented over our government’s questionable response to the pandemic, it was a comfort to see New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern absolutely crush it. In fact, she had things so under control that she even had time to reassure kids that the Easter Bunny was a key worker. What a legend.
12.Lots and lots of craft kits
With so much free time on our hands in lockdown, many of us went on the search for a new creative hobby to fill our time at home. From embroidery kits to watercolour painting, social media was crammed with people getting arty – and we absolutely loved it.
Without access to a hairdresser in lockdown, many of us took matters into our own hands. From shaved heads to home-cut fringes and bobs, the brave among us took the plunge and gave the style we’d always dreamed of a go. And you know what? The end result was surprisingly great.
14.Obsessing over our vivid dreams
Whether our dreams were more vivid because we weren’t doing much in the day or we just noticed them more because we were bored at home, conversations about our weirdest, vivid dreams took centre stage about a month into lockdown. From relationships with ex-boyfriends to nightmares about breaking social distancing, our subconscious minds certainly had a wail of a time.
15.Viral tag challenges
Anyone else remember the days of run five, tag five, donate five? Even those of us whose running experience is strictly limited to running for the bus found ourselves attempting 5k in the name of charity (and incredible social pressure). Not getting tagged in a challenge became the peak of FOMO.
Captain Tom managed to capture the hearts of the nation when he raised over £32 million for NHS charities. At a time when we all felt a little bit isolated, it was nice to have a cause we could all get behind.
17.Falling out of love with Zoom
After so long spent obsessing over Zoom calls and hosting weekly virtual pub quizzes, reality hit. Zooming our friends started to feel like a bit of a chore when the only update we had to share was how our sourdough had turned out that week, and staring at ourselves for hours on end became incredibly exhausting.
There’s no beating around the bush: Normal People transformed the country into a horny, emotional mess. The BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel attracted record audiences as we tuned in to watch Connell and Marianne’s love story unfold. The chain worn by Paul Mescal in the series even got its very own fan club, courtesy of Stylist’s Billie Bhatia.
19.When everyone became Barnard Castle enthusiasts
Amid the confusion and outrage of the Dominic Cummings scandal, Barnard Castle took centre stage as the place where Cummings ‘tested his eyesight’ by going on a half-an-hour drive (yeah, we don’t get it either). Barnard Castle quickly became the subject of countless memes, joke gifts and comedy skits, and the world was all the better for it.
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