If it wasn't locked into the public's conciousness before, then it sure is now. Paul Volcker says we're in a "Great Recession."
Why does the label matter so much? Because at a certain point, perception starts to affect economic activity more than reality. And labels generally tend to short circuit nuanced thinking. That's fine for thinking about big issues, but on a person-by-person basis, where job stability, savings, house prices and a hundred other factors can mean your situation can vary from the mean substantially, it's pretty faulty.
As to why THIS label matters so much, I think it's because in many ways people want to believe this is like the Great Depression. Consider, as bad as the GD was, it did end. And since we got through it and thrived for decades after, thinking that this is like the GD may actually serve as a coping technique for keeping hopes high. As so often seen in dytopic movies and fiction, as scary as Mad Max's world appears, NOT knowing what's going to happen is still considered worse.
By the way, for fans of "history repeating itself," consider that Volcker was despised -- though today revered -- for jacking up interest rates in the early 80's to get inflation under control. I've lost count of the trillions we're printing to save the economy, but is that deja vu I see in my crystal ball?