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Funny and adorable memes could be a secret weapon in dealing with stress

Go ahead and laugh. A new study in ‘Psychology of Popular Media’ says memes can treat some pandemic ills.

Funny and adorable memes could be a secret weapon in dealing with stress
[Source Images: fizkes/iStock]

They say humor is the best medicine, so don’t forget your daily dose of internet culture!

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It turns out your hours scrolling through Reddit—plopped in front of the computer over months-long quarantines—may actually have been good for your body. Surprise! That’s because it might have helped you cope with the gloom and doom of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study in Psychology of Popular Media.

Roughly nine months into the pandemic, researchers from the American Psychological Association were inspired to probe how our new internet-driven world was shaping our psyche—memes especially. In December, the team surveyed 748 people—ages 18 to 88—on their response to a vast range of memes grafted from websites like “IMgur” and “IMGflip,” and found they were overwhelmingly positive. People shown memes over other types of media reported more humor and cheer, and less stress about the pandemic—even if the meme referenced COVID-19.

[Image: via USA Today]
The memes underwent rigorous calibration tests, controlling for whether they featured humans versus animals or adults versus babies, and only those that were equally funny and adorable were used. One exhibit was a picture of a grumpy cat paired with the caption, “New study confirms: Cats can’t spread COVID-19 but would if given option.”

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“We found that viewing just three memes can help people cope with the stress of living during a global pandemic,” the study’s lead author, Jessica Gall Myrick, said in a statement.

In other words, memes put people at ease. “While the World Health Organization recommended that people avoid too much COVID-related media for the benefit of their mental health, our research reveals that memes about COVID-19 could help people feel more confident in their ability to deal with the pandemic,” said Myrick. “This suggests that not all media are uniformly bad for mental health and people should stop and take stock of what type of media they are consuming . . . then we will better be able to use social media to help us when we need it and to take a break from it when we need that instead.”

There you have it! And now to celebrate the power of memes:

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