On March 16, Twitter user @bladeweiser tweeted a video of a woman dancing with the caption: “Me after working from home headed to happy hour in my kitchen”. At the beginning of the year, tweets like these may not have made much sense, but by mid-March in 2020, the global Coronavirus pandemic and social distancing is a stranger to no one.
This tweet received over 29.2k retweets and more than 130.2k favorites.
With nearly all 50 states under mandated stay-at-home orders, US citizens are facing similar circumstances and using social media to cope through relatable and comical content. However, what might be lighthearted and funny jokes for some, could also be insensitive and offensive to others.
For Paige Goldstein, the viral jokes about the virus and social distancing, she says, helps her get through it all. “They’re funny and they’re uplifting” she said, “There’s nothing wrong with a little humor to keep people’s spirits up right now.”
Goldstein hopes to stay positive throughout these trying times. She says,
“All of us just going into hermit holes and being sad and angry all the time is not what needs to be happening”– Paige Goldstein
While Claudette Soler does agree that humor is an efficient way for people to feel better about reality, her individual circumstance has made her have a different approach then many in the United States.
Soler was studying abroad in Madrid, Spain when her program abruptly and unexpectedly ordered her to return to her permanent address in the Dominican Republic. The student said that from her experience, international governments have had different and increased security measures. Airports were closing, making it difficult for her and her cohort to return home.
“You saw people joking online about being able to travel for very cheap and being careless about going out and it all just felt very insensible”– Claudette Soler
While she said she does understand the point of jokes, Soler advises others to put themselves in those that are less privileged’s shoes. “You might be blessed enough to be home safely with your family creating funny memes but think about elderly people, the people in the medical field that can’t be around their children,” she said.
“Think about the people that have lost family members and friends”– Claudette Soler
Artist Sameera Rajwade, who regularly consumes memes via social media, says that there is a proper way to create content so as not to be offensive or insensitive. Rajwade recommends everyone to avoid encouraging or creating racist, sexist, or homophobic jokes.
“If they’re intentionally poking fun at a certain demographic then it definitely crosses the line,” she said. As an example, the artist mentioned xenophobic and racist jokes that have circulated the internet in regard to Chinese people and the virus’s origin. “They just aren’t funny.” Rajwade said.
While she understands the negative possibilities of Coronavirus jokes, Rajwade also recognizes the opportunities that they can create as well. “Memes are unique to our generation. They show our unique and dark humor. I love them. They comfort me,” she said. “There’s also nothing else to do so looking at memes is really entertaining.”
As for other ways outside of social media to keep entertained as the nation social-distances, Perah Ralin is focusing their time on art, creating, and organizing. “I don’t have any power over the Coronavirus so I’m exuding the power that I do have over myself by staying calm and washing my hands and telling people to do the same” they said.
“We have to do as much as we can, but we have to be reasonable”– Perah Ralin