WEB EXCLUSIVE Teenagers are using social networking apps such as TikTok, Twitter and Instagram to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic through humor, even though many posts make light of certain aspects of the outbreak.
One meme discusses how during the boredom of social distancing many people are exploring new styles with their hair such as cutting bangs and dying it — and how it usually does not turn out the best. Despite poking fun at the seriousness of self-quarantine, comedy can be an effective coping strategy when one is scared or under stress.
“Laughter from memes and other content is helpful to relieve stress and to remember the positive while gaining some perspective,” counselor Laurie Pomeranz said. “During a time like this, using humor to cope is like a defense mechanism that keeps you from feeling the depth of the sadness and fear.”
While Governor Gavin Newsom has banned all social gatherings, social media is a place where teenagers can gather and connect. Social media platforms – even though they may not be reputable news sources – can provide easy access to information on current events.
“Apps like TikTok allows us high schoolers to interact with each other and come together to make the most out of what is going on with the quarantine,” senior Lila Horwitz said. “Although I should be getting my news from an actual news source, social media apps are very accessible.”
TikTok videos about self-quarantine and distance learning can be humorous, but some people find the jokes about COVID-19 callous.
Government: Stay inside
Half of the US population: pic.twitter.com/N1ORSGLzQ2
— goattfishh (@goattfishh) March 16, 2020
“There is definitely a line between what is funny on the internet and what can be cruel and insensitive to the situation,” Pomeranz said. “This pandemic is serious, and we can’t get carried away with the humor too much.”
In addition to using humor to cope, keeping the body active and finding ways to connect with family and friends during social distancing can be ways to step away from the fear. Pomeranz stresses the need to take care of one’s self and establish a routine.
“Since we’re supposed to be social distancing right now, I’ve been trying to get outside to go for a walk or run as much as possible,” junior Driscoll Callan said. “I’ve been adjusting to a new daily routine and keeping myself busy, which definitely makes all of this easier.”
Social distancing can tax one’s mental health and can cause sickness from loneliness, according to the American Psychological Association. Virtual social interactions can be to fight the grimness of staying at home.
“It can be scary to be left alone with little human contact, which is why it’s so important to find different ways to cope,” Pomeranz said. “There is an opportunity during this time to spend some time resting rather than constantly being busy.”