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Study: Internet Memes May Help Reduce Anxiety.

(Courtesy of Pepe The Frog)

The pandemic is complex and difficult. Yet, it is now customary to see many memes circulating on the internet, making this difficult time slightly easier. As it turns out, according to several studies, there are several good effects of memes that are useful for mental health as a coping mechanism during a pandemic.

A study titled “Internet Memes Related to The Covid-19 Pandemic as a Potential Coping Mechanism For Anxiety” written by Umair Akram, et al, examined 80 individuals presenting clinically significant anxiety symptoms and 80 non-anxious controls. They rated the emotional balance, humour, relatability, shareability, and offensiveness of 45 Covid-19 internet memes.

Here are some of the positive effects:

  1. Memes can help people to be more accepting of a bad situation:
    Difficult times such as the pandemic limit people’s movement and socialization, which affects a person’s physical and mental health. A journal entitled “Finding Comfort in a Joke” written by Varen Baaren, et al (2009) also found that humor is vital for maintaining physical and psychological health. They found that using humor as an alternative “medicine” consistently can help regulate emotions and is considered effective as a coping mechanism to deal with a stressful and negative situations. By looking at memes, people are more able to accept bad conditions.
  2. Memes can help anxious people to adapt:
    Many of the internet memes in use today related to the Covid-19 pandemic can be considered harmful, depicting themes of isolation and death. However, the groups of anxious and non-anxious people have their views on the meme circulating. Active anxious individuals are turning to social media to adapt to uncertain situations, an idea that has been proven in the context of the current pandemic. In a study titled, “How adolescents use social media to cope with feelings of loneliness and anxiety during COVID-19 lockdown,” researcher Cauberghe and colleagues also determined that anxious individuals who use social media as a coping strategy in the context of the current pandemic, by sharing and viewing humorous content related to COVID-19, are more likely to increase their positive mood.
  1. Memes can bring togetherness and develop a support system:
    Internet memes related to the current pandemic can be used constructively to help individuals experiencing anxiety cope with Covid-19. Therefore, by sharing memes associated with the current pandemic, anxious individuals can form social and emotional bonds with others, thereby creating social support. By communicating with each other, people will feel less alone.

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