A Defining Moment

Jen Jarnefeldt
6 min readJul 6, 2020
Millennial imagery.jpg

I was texting a friend earlier about my problems, which are plentiful and of little to no consequence to anyone but me and the people I force to play the role of my therapist, and I said, “I’m going through a thing. I’m having a defining moment I think.” And he texted back, “What was your first clue? *Stares out window at 2020.*” And this uncomfortable parallel to my personal life is true.

We are in a defining moment in time.

Or, at least it feels that way when the entire year has become a bad calendar meme that only gets more horrifying by the day.

So much has happened in such a short amount of time that it will fundamentally shift the way we go on about the daily grind of living.

I can’t offer any new perspectives. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said, not that that will stop me from doing so. I am shook, but I remain resilient and hopeful. And opinionated, hence this post.

This cursed year began with the same hope, resolutions, and fireworks display as any New Year’s celebration. Then Australia caught on fire. Then NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash. Then the Kraken released the plague and the murder hornets. Then the world watched in horror as a police officer, someone sworn to serve and protect, knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds until he died. Then the protests. Then more plague, this time with clotting disorders and skin rashes reaching the people it avoided the first time. Now we’re here at the midpoint wondering what next, 2020? What else ya got to pile on top of this exhausting dumpster fire of a year?

Somewhere in the back of the room someone yells, “It’s an election year!”

Coronavirus is a scary disease that has had a profoundly depressing public health and economic impact in just a few short months, and it’s also the only reason I now know what a pangolin is. For parents, there is no longer any division of labor or balance between parental life, school life, and work life — it exists all at once in the same space and it’s messy. Racial justice and inequity must be addressed and right now is the moment we are choosing not to glance and look away, but fully stare in that mirror and examine our demons — past, present, and future. President Trump continues to make zero sense as a Commander in Chief, and seems to serve no definable purpose, unless you count making literally everything worse and getting us kicked out of Europe when it reopens. Everything is cancelled until further notice. Meanwhile Britney Spears’s Instagram page and Tik Tok grows ever more lousy with boredom-driven dancing and addictive nonsense content that I continue to not understand. This is a moment.

And the de rigueur of the moment is —


In Fauci We Trust. Public health should be a top concern. Listen to the CDC. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and socially distance yourself.

Black Lives Matter

We should seek justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain plus a list of names too long to count — these are just the ones that made the news recently. But we also shouldn’t just seek justice for their murders, entire systems must be dismantled and rebuilt — law enforcement, education, and public welfare to name a few. Uncomfortable conversations need to take place. White women have to stop calling the cops on black people for doing normal people things. Bird watching and barbecuing are not crimes, Karen.

Political Theater

The DNC seems to have misplayed their hand yet again, and though I view Biden’s victory as unfortunate, and rankle a little bit every time I get an email asking for money in the middle of yet another giant economic crisis, like it or not he is what we currently have to work with.

The right remains as ugly as Mitch McConnell in a wind tunnel and the left cannibalizes itself on the daily. The haters hate, the bakers bake, the memers meme, and the Tik Tokers Tik those Toks like you would not believe. (Someone please help me with the Tik Toks. I really want to do the Savage dance like all the cool kids.)

It is a lot to take in, it is all extremely tiring, and I am a ball of raw anxiety and nerves at every point during these COVID summer days that seem to last for years. My sleep is suffering. Existential dread at what fresh new hell tomorrow will bring keeps me up at night. I have heard from every ex in my contacts list. And I long for the days when I thought Lizard Overlord Truthers were the most exciting thing to pontificate.

But through it all, I see little glimmers of hope.

I see people at home paying closer attention to their loved ones, which seems to result in divorce about as often as it results in ’Rona babies, either way people seem happier.

Economic depression seems to have made more room for creative and artistic self-expression. I have seen more freshly baked loaves of bread that would garner a Paul Hollywood handshake and bad lip-syncs to Destiny’s Child songs on social media lately than I have seen baby pictures, and that’s saying something. When people are bored and stuck at home, they try new things and post fewer pictures of their babies because they’d rather tell the world what’s in their Instant Pot. I’m here for that kind of content.

I see people finally looking up from their phones and experiencing the world around them. (Except Gen Z — you never really see their eyes, only the tops of their heads. I just… I worry about their posture.)

I see people prioritizing their health and exercising more… literally everyone in my neighborhood exercises at the same time of day and it makes my dog bark — c o n s t a n t l y — so please, stagger your start times and let’s socially distance, thaaaaannnnnnksssss. And yes, I’m ignoring the fact that we all ate our feelings and “gained the COVID-19" during those first few months when we panic bought freezer pizzas and Ritz Bitz, which got us into this soft lumpy state where we now have to take our quaran-fitness up a notch. But whatever, go do a burpee and work off this morning’s freezer pizza. You know you ate the whole thing.

Nowadays we Zoom and Loom while on Noom in our rooms. I asked a friend of mine what happens if we Zoom a Loom Noom in the Boom Boom and he said “Your dick will fall off,” so maybe all of this oom-ing is too much of a good thing, but at least we’re all connected! Technology! Who’d’ve thought?!

Hey. Look at us. Who would’ve thought? Not me.

We all got a little bit more eco-conscious and conservative as The Great Toilet Paper Crisis of 2020 created more demand for bidets, and we had to make each precious square of toilet paper count, lest our b-holes remain forever unclean.

I see people of all colors, identities, and ages attending Black Lives Matter protests. I see people raising their voices and saying enough is enough. I see people calling on others to vote. I see people donating, and contributing, and educating, and learning, and demanding, and acting, and helping in a variety of ways.

I see a world brought to its knees, struggling to get back up, but still exerting the effort to do so.

Idk man, what do you see?


This is a defining moment. How we choose to come out of it will mean stepping into a world that is completely up to us to create. And to me, that is a very exciting thing.

Edit: So much has been crammed into the first half of 2020 that I cannot believe I forgot to mention Tiger King. I’ll never forgive myself for this missed opportunity to mention that while we were all hiding in our homes getting woke to systemic racism, we distracted ourselves with this insane ballad of meth, mullets, and misfortune. Tiger King happened to us all. Hashtag Never Forget.



Jen Jarnefeldt

Decent as h*ck. @jenjarns on the Tweeters and Threads. I write the docs at AWS. Thoughts and opinions my own.