At a time when concerns over coronavirus seem to affect every aspect of our lives, the world of TikTok and other social media channels have exploded with hilarious content based on the phenomenon.

Content on the TikTok with the hashtag #coronavirus has received over 12 billion views.

The most common trends include videos of people clearing out supermarket shelves, ‘dealing’ out toilet paper or touching a series of unsanitised objects with the lyrics “it’s corona time” playing in the background.

Dr Laura Glitsos, co-author of a recent journal article on the Pepe the frog meme, says that joking around on social media is a natural way of coping with anxiety.

“People will always disagree about what is suitable and appropriate.

“But I think the most important thing is that people have the freedom to explore the different kinds of anxieties that they’re going through in a variety of ways,” she says.

While most content about coronavirus is designed to make people laugh, a number of healthcare and humanitarian organisations have jumped on the trend, creating their own videos championing hand-washing and debunking myths about the virus.

The World Health Organisation launched the #safehands challenge, which encourages people to wash their hands correctly using soap or an alcohol-based rub.

The challenge exploded and videos using the hashtag have already gained over 775 million views.

TikTok has also spread positivity around the world with heart-warming videos emerging of entire streets of people in quarantined areas of Europe standing at their balconies, singing or clapping together to keep spirits high and to thank healthcare workers and cleaning personnel.

“It’s like a collective way to work through a particular problem,” Glitsos says.

“I actually think it’s [sharing content online] a really good way to be able to have a public discussion in a way that’s creative rather than damaging.”

Whether or not you agree with joking about the virus, Glitsos says the TikToks and memes won’t be stopping any time soon.

“As it [coronavirus pandemic] gets worse, the meme reaction will become even stronger, and the things that are positive and generate good messages for the community will hopefully come to the fore.”

Future historians may well look back and marvel at how humour and positivity were spread around the world in this time of crisis.

Brianna studies broadcasting, politics and international relations at ECU, and is passionate about topics including modern slavery, the climate crisis and equality. She is working towards a journalism career in all forms of media. She has done some recent volunteer work for Noongar Radio and has worked on promotional videos for Unisport Australia. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Bri on a netball court or at a recycled fashion market.

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