Young Americans turn to social media, memes and humor in the wake of COVID-19

TSD’s All Over Town columnist Brianna A. Smith

Coronavirus. It’s all over the news. It’s trending on your social media. It’s on your TV. It’s dominating the push alerts on your phone.

The year is less than three months old but we have every reason to believe that COVID-19 will be one of the most significant events of the decade.

A global infectious disease can be every bit as transformative for the future as a global war or economic depression.

With trending words like quarantine, outbreak and isolation, it’s important to educate yourself about the virus and how it could impact you.

While each generation has its unique set of worries and generational characteristics, millennials have their own concerns and circumstances that impact how they are dealing with this outbreak.

Many are spending more time on social media to stay connected. I know I am.

Over past two weeks, I’ve seen so many people on obligatory “staycation,” using Tik Tok (an app used to create a short dance, lip-sync, comedy and talent videos) to entertain themselves.

I’ve seen so many cute, goofy videos of families holed up together and hanging out, of kids teaching their parents dance challenges, friends creating new dances, DIY craft and cooking projects and, of course, coronavirus comedy sketches.

Brooklyn-based DJ iMarkkeyz, who specializes in chopping up viral clips, took Cardi B’s 46-second rant about COVID-19 and created “Coronavirus,” a track that spread instantly. (Photo: Instagram)

Cardi B’s “Coronavirus Rant Remix” video and basketball superstar LeBron James family’s Tik Tok, have to be two of my favorites right now.

When coping with a problem that seems inevitable, fatalistic humor, memes and social media are second hand nature to my generation.

We don’t have the ability to control whatever is going on, but we can put text on a gif and say something about the situation that’s happening to make it humorous.

Krystal Love, a colleague of mine, admits that tweeting isn’t exactly a constructive way of dealing with problems, but she does it anyway.

“I am, of course, aware that tweeting does not necessarily actually do anything to change whatever is going on,” she said. “Tweeting does, however, make me feel better, I admit, and that is something even if it’s a very small thing. I am able to vent as well as find someone that maybe can re- late, and that builds a sense of community, especially during this ‘lockdown.’”

And, with Twitter being my go-to social media app, I definitely can agree with her. Twitter’s strength is real-time, it has become increasingly popular with policymakers, politicians and the general public.

Twitter remains our best indicator of the wider pulse of the world and what’s happening within it and you can always find something humorous and relatable.

Although Tik Tok, Twitter, and Face- book are all fun stops, the party really is on Instagram.

We’re all physically distanced from our favorite people and avoiding our favorite public places. However, on Saturday “Club Quarantine” was the place to be. Well known DJ and photographer, DJ D-Nice invited his Instagram followers to join him for a virtual dance party.

As a firm believer that music and dance help heal and unify, I was stunned when I entered into the club and guests such as Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Ne-Yo, Usher, Diddy and Oprah were all there.

Even Democratic presidential candidates former vice president Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders joined in on the fun, which at one point reached up to 100,000 live viewers.

He shouted out his special guests—even joking that perhaps guest Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, might “buy out the bar” for all of the guests.

As he played dance tunes, followers commented on what a nice break the jam session was, as we’re all social distancing.

As the pandemic grows increasingly dire around the globe and millions are confined to their homes, music fans, such as myself, look to these live stream concerts for a distraction.

Anthony Hamilton, Miguel, and even local artists such as, Karen Brown, to name a few, used their social media accounts to share their gifts and sprinkle some hope into the world.

Increased online connections will be critical for millions of Americans as we all retreat into our homes for an indefinite period.