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2020 Man of the Year: Wood

Barry Wood
• December 28, 2020 5:00 pm

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You know him, everybody knows him.

Wardy Joubert III, a.k.a. "Wood," a.k.a. "Barry Wood," a.k.a. "Big Wood," is the name of the ubiquitous "that guy" of the 2020 coronavirus quarantine memes.

No meme dominated the springtime quarantine harder than Barry Wood.

A breaking news alert from your best friend? Wood.

New coronavirus mutation identified? Bam! More Wood, right in your face.

Thunderstorm rolling in? J/K, you've got Wood.

Taylor Swift nudes? Sorry, perv, just more Wood, Big Wood.

Ruthlessly invading the inboxes and text messages of the bored, stuck-at-home masses, Wood appeared, unannounced, via weblink attached to some form of a breaking news alert sent by a formerly trusted contact. Any time of day, any time of night, Wood would strike.

But who was the man behind the meme? Numerous outlets dug in deep—perhaps too deep—to fill in the backstory of the most dominant face of the quarantine. In a time of grief, uncertainty, tragedy, and fear, for those of us left behind, we had Wood.

When you saw his face, you knew it was time to take a break from the news. A text of Wood meant that, perhaps, you had become too obsessed with case counts and hectoring cable-news doctors.

A text of Wood was the first sign of hope in the quarantine. The virus may have robbed us of our freedom, but it did not take away our ability to laugh at the absurd reality we all experienced.

According to Google, the Wood meme may even be an indicator of the severity of coronavirus-infection rates. Searches for "Barry Wood" climaxed in mid-April, just as the first wave of COVID-19 infections peaked in the United States. In December, as we experience another surge of infections, Google is experiencing new growth in Wood-related inquiries.

It appears that as COVID counts rise, so too does Wood—a 2020 Washington Free Beacon Man of the Year.