Laughing at lockdown: what you need to know about quarantine memes and challenges
The post-COVID-19 world is often a stressful one. People are sick and dying, schools are closed, the economy has taken a battering and on top of all that we can’t even get hold of pasta.
But as is always the case, people are finding innovative ways to bring a more humorous side to lockdown life, by creating memes and challenges to post online.
As their popularity grows, your child may be sharing these memes or taking part in challenges themselves – and you may be wondering if they’re anything more than harmless fun.
To offer a little guidance, we’ve handpicked some of our favourite lockdown memes to explain what it’s all about.
What are memes?
Defining a meme is tricky, but if pushed we’d say they’re ideas that are spread online, usually in the form of photos or videos, and often adapted in the process to mean something else.
You’re probably already familiar with a few, even if you didn’t make them yourself. ‘OK Boomer’, ‘Rise and Shine’ and ‘Baby Yoda’ are all memes that have graced our social media platforms this year – picking up millions of shares, likes and favourites as they spread.
You can read our full guide to memes here.
Meanwhile, someone has turned up to the Waitrose I used to work at in a zorb ball pic.twitter.com/bJ196P4axW— Sophie Morris (@itssophiemorris) March 27, 2020
Why is the internet 'memeing' lockdown?
Poking fun at the situation we’ve found ourselves in through the power of memes and videos has quickly become a popular internet trend.
This behaviour isn’t a sign that people don’t care about the extraordinary circumstances we’re in, but is instead a way to cope.
It’s possible your child is making and sharing lockdown memes too, as social media’s endless creative tools make it easier than ever to craft fun and relatable content.
In other news... the cat over the road is called Walter pic.twitter.com/loIHA2J4mH— Sian Cosgrove (@sian_cosgrove) March 29, 2020
Are lockdown memes harmless?
Most lockdown memes are harmless, created for a bit of fun and perhaps in the hope that they’ll lead to viral stardom.
But, as with many things online, they can carry risks.
For starters, something that’s funny to one person may not be so funny to another, a general rule of thumb we should apply before we share any meme, not just those that relate to lockdown.
It’s also important to remember that a spike in xenophobia has been recorded since the outbreak of coronavirus – and that therefore some memes may have been created with the intent to harm or offend.
Children are naturally resilient and may already be equipped to deal with such content if they find themselves exposed to it.
It is, however, always worth having an open discussion about the coronavirus and why we need to be extra careful when contextualising a meme, and to always think before we share.
What are the most popular platforms for creating lockdown challenges?
An internet challenge, in this context, can be seen as a kind of interactive meme – one person, or sometimes an organisation, posts a photo or video of themself doing something physical or creative, then others copy them and share their own attempts.
TikTok has seen a surge in users since lockdown began, becoming the platform of choice for this kind of quarantine-busting boredom-killers.
Often the epicentre for viral trends, TikTok’s endless stream of new and innovative ways to make content are what makes it so popular. Some of the most common lockdown challenges include the ‘Blinding Lights Challenge’ and the ‘Emoji Hand Challenge’.
Instagram is a solid competitor to TikTok, with trends that include the ‘Until Tomorrow Challenge’ and the ‘Bill Clinton Swag Record Challenge’, while on Twitter, artists are recreating their favourite album covers using Animal Crossing’s pop star character, K.K. Slider.
Read our guide to viral internet trends here.
Are the challenges safe?
Most of the viral lockdown challenges are harmless, and can even be fun to recreate as a family.
There are, however, some controversial, and potentially dangerous challenges that have populated online, which in the past have included the ‘Skullbreaker Challenge’, the ‘Outlet Challenge’ and the ‘Mugshot Challenge’.
It is important that your child knows how to distinguish these viral trends from their inoffensive counterparts, and where to report content if they come across something inappropriate.
Our parent guides cover reporting to different social media platforms, including TikTok and Instagram.
Today I made a Zoom background of myself accidentally walking in on myself in a Zoom meeting. pic.twitter.com/Rl2AsjfZ7V— Dan Crowd (@itsdancrowd) April 3, 2020