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Keywords: covid-19 humour internet coronavirus mems picture pandemic collective memory jokes

KMT 2020 nr 2 Download PDF

Internet Coronavirus Jokes in the Collective Memory of the Plague

Cite: , Internetowe żarty z pandemii koronawirusa w „zbiorowej pamięci zarazy”, "Kultura - Media - Teologia", 2020( 41) nr 2, s. 7-37.

DOI: 10.21697/kmt.41.1

The purpose of this article is to recall and classify humorous stories about the coronavirus pandemic and about people struggling with the restrictions imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The main focus of the paper is on the graphic and oral jokes disseminated via the internet by people trying to cope with life in lockdown, in a global village on a global quarantine which is supposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-COV 2). In 2019 the virus caused the outbreak of a new infectious disease called covid-19, which in five months affected more than 4 million people on six continents. Millions of people around the world are being asked to stay at home, shielding to protect themselves from coronavirus. Social distancing and self-imposed quarantine means that many people work from home, study remotely, maintaining contact with friends and relatives via the Internet. Humorous videos, jokes and memes are also disseminated in the same environment. Internet coronavirus jokes are a manifestation of a new genre of humor, which I labeled corona-humor and which is being established right in front of our eyes. These jokes can reach global audiences as they bring universal messages clear to understand for people speaking different languages. Coronavirus jokes disseminated via the internet in Poland in the first month of the lockdown were the focus of the research, the results of which are presented in this article. Content analysis of coronavirus memes and oral jokes allowed me to discuss the most important categories of pandemic jokes thus showing pieces of Polish reality during the plague of 2020 from the perspective of 470 humorous memes and jokes about the behavior of people during the pandemic. The research material consisted of jokes sent to me by 81 young people with whom I conducted online interviews from the 20 th of March to the 20 th of April 2020. Jokes about protective masks, toilet paper, police fines for breaking quarantine or mass shopping and buying food or soap in bulk – these humorous pieces are not only a form of communication and a unique record of the coronavirus pandemic history. Their universal form, facilitating spontaneous replication in the global network, will probably make it easier for the coronavirus jokes to go down in collective memory of the plague, to reside there alongside classic texts of culture, historical and fictional narratives, such as Decamerone, La Peste, medieval danse macabre, or press photos taken during the Spanish flu epidemic – by the end of 2020 these will be joined by the Internet coronavirus memes.

About authors

Magdalena Hodalska

ORCID: 0000-0001-9620-5913


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