Coronavirus memes are the best medicine


Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

The coronavirus outbreak has sparked both international concern and humorous memes across the Internet.

Brennan Rose, Opinions Writer

The coronavirus is currently causing worldwide panic as conspiracy theories and crazy associations run wild. People are afraid to be near someone who’s coughing with some even straight up banning Asian people from their businesses, as reported by the New York Times, because of the suspected infection. Airlines are banning all flights to mainland China, and people are freaking out over this illness that hasn’t killed a single person in the U.S. 

Recently, Gen Z has taken this specific issue under their wings and have been flooding social media and the internet with memes and jokes surrounding the virus. These memes may have increased people’s fear of the virus as more people are taking account of it, but they are harmless and overall beneficial jokes, clearly demonstrating that internet comedy should remain unregulated.

From the classic Corona Extra beer to Ned from Spiderman saying, “We’re all gonna die!”, teens have been having a field day with the virus and making light of its spread throughout the world. Jokes have been made saying “Drink Responsibility,” joking that people over 21 can’t get the virus because they can’t drink Corona Extra beer. However, these memes and constant reminders of the illness might have caused fear and anxiety within people.

Mckayla Fontanez, a 20 year-old, living in L.A. was interviewed in a Los Angeles Times article, and she mentioned that she bought hand sanitizer and other precautionary measures to protect herself from the virus partly due to the memes spread throughout social media. She said, “It’s the sheer amount of information coming across at one time, and the complexity of the information as well.” As a result, it is difficult for people to differentiate between jokes and warnings.

Basically, the main concerns some people such as Fontanez have about the spreading of memes about the virus is how diverse and situational memes are leading to different interpretations and a mix of information. The other issue is that memes can sometimes make jokes about fake news surrounding the virus, but this false information can be perceived as real if it’s spread and joked about often. 

Memes can have an adverse, but beneficial effect as well: they can make people aware of world events that they would otherwise be a blind to. Senior Nick Watson said, “But I also think it could raise awareness of it too, because what if you don’t listen to the news and you get your news through memes and that’s how you hear about coronavirus.” 

However, all this truly speaks to the overall problem with jokes and memes in today’s society: people take comedy too seriously. Comedy is meant to make fun of these topics and saying that there’s limits to what you can make jokes on is honestly making situations worse. People are free to say whatever they want and comedy should absolutely be covered under those guidelines. Censoring comedy and jokes is practically the same as saying there’s certain things you can’t say or talk about. 

 If you can’t make memes and jokes about sensitive topics such as coronavirus or even about WWIII, then it’ll make people think it’s more serious than it is. For instance, if there truly is world war and there’s no jokes being made and only serious commentary, everyone would take it very seriously and make it out to something much worse that it actually is. In this sense, memes can make a situation seem less tense. Comedy is meant to make light of the world, calm people’s minds and cause laughter to be an essential part of today’s world.

This is the clear plus-side to memes as it can help people understand a topic better and can poke fun at the situation making everyone laugh about it instead of freaking out. “If it’s about a serious topic, they aren’t making fun of it, it’s just to like, make someone laugh,” Watson said. Laughter is helpful to calm people down and memes can have a very beneficial and even therapeutic aspect to them. 

Comedy should be open. Memes and jokes shouldn’t be censored; the right to free speech should never be blocked. Memes are meant for comedy, and taking them too seriously is killing comedy and the most important thing in tense situations: laughter.