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Laughs in the time of Coronavirus

Picture this: a bottle of beer all alone in the corner of a fridge, scaring away the rest of the food items, all of which are wearing surgical masks. The beer was a Corona, and this image was perhaps the first of the memes shared on the internet about the coronavirus.

A “meme” is an idea or a concept that is shared on one or more social media platforms. Like the Corona pic, a lot of memes are meant to be funny. Look at Facebook or Twitter, and you’ll find numerous jokes about the virus and its impact. 

It may seem strange to make jokes during this confusing and unfamiliar time, particularly about something potentially deadly. But the act of sharing a simple meme is a way to strike back at the darkness. By including your friends, you can seek to bolster their spirits (and your own). The wellness experts will tell you that laughter is a great way to alleviate stress, even if just for a moment.

Here’s our contribution to the cause, a compilation of some of the best corona-memes that have sprouted in the past week. They are organized by general topic. 

BRAVE NEW WORLD. Some of the humor simply marveled at the changes to life that seemingly happened overnight. 

  • “I don’t think anyone expected that when we changed the clocks earlier this month … we’d go from standard time to the Twilight Zone,” said one. 
  • Confinement was limiting: “I still haven’t decided where to go for Easter … the living room or the bedroom.”
  • A third was a visual gag – A blueprint of a house, with a glass of wine in each room, allowing every room to be a tasting room. 

WORK. Working from home also was celebrated for its moments. 

  • One recurring theme was how to dress. One item said, “It’s time to change from my work pajamas into my bedtime pajamas.”
  • One cartoon had the thought balloon of a guy on the couch: “Working from home is going pretty well!” On the floor, the guy’s cat wrote in a diary: “Day 5. He’s still in my spot.”

TOILET PAPER. One of the stranger phenomena about the coronavirus crisis is the run on toilet paper. It’s not a digestive malady. One would have thought there was a snowstorm behind it the way TP flew off the grocery store shelves.

  • Many of the toilet paper jokes had a punchline too rude to print here. 
  • One of the visual gags was a pic of five St. Bernards with rolls of TP instead of little barrels of rum around their necks: “Help is on the way!” 
  • In another, Gollum, the anti-hero from “Lord of the Rings,” was holding a roll of TP and hissing, “My precious!”

SOCIAL DISTANCING. Of course, there’s a separate category entirely dedicated to “social distancing,” a term sure to be in the running for phrase of year for 2020, along with “shelter in place.”

There were many variations on a theme here. 

  • Social distancing, Beatles style: A picture of the Fab Four all crossing Abbey Road, just like on the famous album cover, but six feet apart. 
  • Social distancing with a Scottish twist: a picture of a hearty lad, in a kilt, on the heather overlooking a loch. He’s playing his bagpipe. The simple punchline: “Social distancing tool.”
  • Forced to distance, one could always enjoy “[t]oday’s drink special: The Quarantini. It’s just a regular martini, but you drink it alone, in your house.”
  • And where’s Waldo? Right there, in a field, far away from everybody else in the picture. 

KIDS. With schools closed for the remainder of the school year, many parents found themselves spending more time than they anticipated with their children at the same time they were working from home.

Home-schooling memes abounded. 

  • In one, the poster reported, “Home-schooling is going well. Two students have been suspended and a teacher was fired for drinking on the job.”
  • Another said, “Day 3: They all graduated yesterday.”

DARK HUMOR. Given the seriousness of the coronavirus, and the steady drumbeat of cases, and deaths, it’s not surprising that there was a dark edge to some of the humor. 

  • These posts ranged from the catty… “We are about three weeks away from knowing everyone’s true hair color.”
  • …To the millennial. One post recalled a 1990s computer game where everyone always seemed to die from dysentery: “I think my generation is taking this extra serious because we remember how bad we were at Oregon Trail.”
  • Country crooner Kenny Rogers passed away March 20 at age 81. One poster “commemorated” his death this way: “Kenny Rogers dipping out in the middle of apocalypse is the most ‘Know when to fold ’em’ thing ever.”
  • And a few had some bite. The failure to observe social distancing could prove dire: “Better six feet apart than six feet under.”

THERE’S ALWAYS HOPE. And on the flip side, some of the humor held out hope for a return to normal. One post invoked the power of positive thinking: “This too will pass. It might pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.”

Give Gandalf, the wizard from “The Lord of the Rings,” the last word. The LOTR trilogy features a crew of ordinary creatures forced to face and vanquish difficult foes. One poster found inspiration in that tale, citing this passage:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf. “And so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

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