When Does This Stop Being Funny?

Recently I posted a meme on my Facebook page that said:

CDC: To prevent coronavirus, stay home, avoid physical contact and don’t go into large crowds.

Introverts: I’ve been preparing for this moment my entire life.

It’s not the only meme I’ve posted on my page that is trying to make light of this pandemic, but as the schools and libraries and concert venues begin shutting down, and as the number of confirmed cases rise, I’m starting to feel increasingly uncomfortable about these memes. As the death toll increases and as our lives become more and more strange, it stops being funny. Sh*t is getting real.

A friend of mine in Canada told me that his government announced that they are anticipating as many as 70 percent of their population will get COVID-19, and of that number, 3 percent may die. My friend did the math, and that would mean 210,000 dead Canadians. That’s not funny at all. Not even a little bit.

It’s not unusual for people to use humor to diffuse an uncomfortable, stressful or scary situation, but at some point it becomes inappropriate. Where’s that tipping point with COVID-19? Some people will never reach it. They lack subtlety, or they don’t pick up on social cues, or they’re trolls who enjoy shock value. I suspect many of us will get there the exact moment when someone we know becomes infected.

Heaven knows I’m not the arbiter of good taste. I think every one of us will have to decide for ourselves. But we need to take into consideration that people are dying. And they’re leaving people behind who are grieving.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Meanwhile, wash your hands and don’t touch your face. Stay calm and stay safe.

I’ll leave you with this quote, which a dear friend reminded me about:

“I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason.”

                                   -Klaatu, in The Day the Earth Stood Still

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10 thoughts on “When Does This Stop Being Funny?

  1. Angiportus Librarysaver

    I may have remarked somewhere in the last few days that social distancing sounded like my default lifestyle, but I wasn’t being funny. Agreed about the need for consideration when it comes to humor, and also about individual differences in taste–but also, it sounds here almost like someone is making fun of introverts, and we all could use a lot less making-fun-of for a lot of groups.
    Including old people–I’m surrounded by them, and just on the edge of the danger zone myself.

  2. Lyn

    Sadly, they won’t have to know someone who’s infected to take this seriously once they feel the negative economic impact personally. You don’t need panic or jokes if you educate yourself, prepare accordingly and trust that there are still competent, caring adults we can depend on.(ignore those that ignored the scientists and support those that listened) It’s sad, we had ample warning this was coming but wasted valuable time we should have been preparing. People have been suffering, dying and grieving for several months but they weren’t Americans so this administration ignored it. This us/them mentality will be the death of humanity if we don’t accept our global connectivity and responsibilities. Maybe this pandemic, in hindsight, will wake more Americans up to reality.

      1. Lyn

        That’s the reality I hope this pandemic will open the deniers eyes to. Wildfires, floods and melting glaciers look pretty visible to me even through cataracts without my glasses on. https://www.conservation.org/blog/if-coronavirus-halts-climate-convenings-we-must-find-other-avenues-for-progress
        utm_campaign=General&utm_medium=email&utm_source=FY20_General_2020Mar13_C_ND&s_src=Email&s_subsrc=FY20_General_2020Mar13_C_ND. Even amidst our health crisis there are those still focused on the planets health.

  3. Angiportus Librarysaver

    The PT article is interesting but it leaves a lot out. E.g., some folks are more like cats than dogs, more interested in things, ideas, places or all of the above than in people–usually. They can become scientists or artists or just have a nice satisfying private life once they quit letting idiots make them feel guilty about their way of being–I had to cut ties with a relative for that reason.
    Also it must be pointed out that not all of us non-neurotypical types fit on any “autistic spectrum”.
    Finally, don’t mistake us for someone shy or “wimpy”. Self-sufficient is more accurate. A lot of dogs have learned not to mess with a cat.

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