Thursday, 17 February 2022

HUMOR (ABOUT COVID)

Thinking about humor as it relates to the covid-19 pandemic (including the variants), I am not in any way dismissing the seriousness of the pandemic or the personal toll it has taken on so many. Rather, I am thinking about humor as a human response to covid. It seems true of human nature that humor surfaces when we face scary situations. This kind of humor acts as a sort of release of tension and anxiety. It is a coping mechanism.

Of course, it must be said that a lot of humor related to covid was and is quite vile. Some humor was explicit in making a political, social, or a religious statement. Most of these kinds of humorous pieces made the rounds on the internet, being forwarded as often as ‘impartial’ humor. Impartial humor, as I see it, makes light of common inconveniences and otherwise general experiences of humanity during the pandemic.

The pandemic is not over although we all wish it were officially declared so. Still, society is readjusting to a pre-covid lifestyle. However, some of us are mistaking societal movements as medical evidence that the pandemic is clearly over. Here, we need patience, and I am suggesting a little bit of humor.

I have compiled for this ‘pictorial blog’ a series of humorous pieces which reminded me of several things: 1.) The utter seriousness of the covid-19 virus and its subsequent variants; 2.) We are in a pandemic, which means a global illness; 3.) People came together to argue and to fight as well as to help and to comfort; 4.) People fell away from each other either out of anger and distrust or because of care for self and others; 5.) The world experienced effects of what a pandemic can do outside of the physical effects of the disease and finally, the pandemic gave us a lot of time to be alone, and these times were utilized in as many ways as there are people. Here we go…

Remember one of our first reactions to covid-19 was the hording of toilet paper? This is still an unexplained phenomenon, but this reaction has everything to do with rampant fear and self-protection. We seemed to get through this crisis and the experience left some of us chuckling.

Quarantine became quite common and from what I hear, some people continue to prefer and enjoy it. I left France to return to the United States just as covid was taking root in northern Italy. My colleagues who were returning to Israel had to self-quarantine for a couple of weeks while I was left free to roam. Going outside was often considered a last resort while others would do anything to go outside.

Lockdowns and quarantines took their toll on how we tolerate each other. Patience wore thin and the effects of being together under the same roof for weeks on end brought forth a series of humorous and macabre reactions.

Many government offices, schools and churches went underground by way of cancelling, or using such social media platform as zoom. Remember this was, and still is, a daily routine in the working world, but less so in the church world.

A constant during the pandemic was the reminder to wash your hands with soap and water or apply a hygienic gel to them and to wear a mask. We found some humor in the differnce between the warnings and the force of habit.

We also adopted a fearful mindset when it came to being close to someone. Distancing was typically a six foot or a cow length rule.

You might also recall how many people decided to let their hair grow out because barber shops and salons were closed. Some took to the ‘black market’ for private at-home cuts, while others just let their hair hang down or stick straight up…depending on their hair type.

While I am mindful that the pandemic is not yet over, there seems to be a growing sense that covid and its variants are easing their grips. It is good to be reminded that a little humor naturally comes from, as the tired expression goes, these unprecedented times and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. As we have forgotten the pandemic of 1918, this one will also settle into history and become yet another mechanism for coping with difficulty; We will forget it.

Published by Thomas

Retired from active priestly ministry in the Catholic Church; former Benedictine monk; francophile; Holocaust researcher; Delta One Million Miler; Ex-Patriated American to the Republic of Panama

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