One ‘C’ has led to another ‘C’. COVID-19 to Crisis. We are all in it together. And this crisis has led to the loss of another ‘c’ – control. Many things seem to be going out of our hands. What can help us make meaning from this pandemic experience? Creativity and humor.
Look around your social media feeds. People are turning to various forms of expression, creation, and humor, to tide through this lockdown. This list of memes here is testament to our appreciating wit. And more people are joining this group.
Why? “Using humor is just how people cope in grim circumstances, and it’s a healthy response,” says psychologist April Foreman. “Human beings are wired to cope, and we’re wired to be funny — even darkly humorous.” Offering more insight, Amanda Jacobsmeyer, a publicist in Harlem (NY) says, “It’s a little bit of a reprieve from having to feel constantly scared or anxious or worried about other people. It doesn’t remove those feelings. It just distracts me from them for a minute, which is nice.” Over time, dark humor has come to the aid of humans across situations – climate crisis, death, 9/11 attack.
It gets better. Humor is not a standalone skill. It is known to spur creativity. In an MIT study, two groups of participants (designers and improv comedians) were asked to brainstorm ideas. Improv artists generated 20% more ideas and 25% more creative ideas than the designers. Undeniable impact.
People around the world are using this combination to their benefit. Given the restrained situation we are in right now – limited resources, lockdown – the conditions for being creative are riper than ever. As author Ben Orlin notes, “Creativity is what happens when a mind encounters an obstacle. It’s the human process of finding a way through, over, around, or beneath. No obstacle, no creativity.” No wonder the Kerala Police have found unique ways to spread awareness about Coronavirus. Check out this video they made, called ‘Break the Chain’. There is even a dance video demonstrating effective handwashing. Easier to get people’s attention through them, than through just plain announcements, right?
Many brands are taking to humor and creativity, to convey the gravity of the pandemic. McDonald’s and Audi have modified their logos to spread awareness about social distancing. Burger King has changed its tagline from ‘Home of the Whopper’ to ‘Stay Home of the Whopper’.
The constraints we are experiencing now might continue or even get stronger in the next few weeks. We have to find novel ways of doing things, be it using our time, entertaining toddlers, rationing resources, or just connecting with people. How would you like to use your humor and creativity now?
Here’s what one of us created during the lockdown.