If you’re feeling stressed about the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be one thing that could help: memes.
Memes are humorous image, video, or piece of text, that is reproduced frequently with slight interpretations and spread rapidly by internet users.
The researchers utilized memes from websites such as Imgur and Imgflip. They edited some of them so that they showed the same image, but with either a heading related to COVID-19 or a caption about another topic.
The researchers first measured how the participants thought, including asking them how continually in the past month they’d felt stressed and nervous.
Some of the participants then looked at three memes — either all related to COVID-19 or all related to different topics. Other participants viewed a depiction of the meme without an image, and others didn’t look at any memes at all.
Participants then reported their levels of anxiety and positive emotions — such as how calm, peaceful and content they felt — and their sentiments toward COVID-19.
The researchers found that participants who viewed memes, no matter the subject, reported more favorable emotions than those who didn’t.
Out of the participants who looked at the memes, those who viewed ones with captions about COVID-19 reported more downward stress levels about the disease, compared to those who viewed ones with captions about other topics. They also thought about the topic more intensely, which was associated with feeling more assured in their ability to cope with the pandemic.
As the pandemic kept carrying on, it became more and more interesting how people were using social media and memes, as a way to think about the pandemic. Viewing memes can help people cope with the stress of living during a global pandemic.
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