Videos of Ghanaian pallbearers dancing at a funeral have taken the internet by storm.

From fascinating online challenges to dramatic tantrums, social media has played host to an evolution of trends that have left people wondering, ‘how on earth would anybody even think of this?” But the latest trend surprisingly catching the wave will leave you – as grim as it may seem – laughing about death.

“By June deɛ…,” I said with a giggle. Whatever followed after this three-word phrase, left her in shock and our new friendship hanging by a thread.

We had crossed paths on a social media platform and graduated our small talk into a budding friendship. Prior to the lockdown, she worked in Tema, in charge of getting agricultural produce of a top Ghanaian company ready for shipment overseas.

“You would not survive in a container,” she blatantly told me via text over WhatsApp, seeking to educate me as to why a metal container due for shipment was not the best medium if I wanted to become a stowaway through the seaport.

She added that I would die “because they fog it after loading,” within a few minutes of my being locked up in a container as I had jokingly suggested.

Apparently, fogging is a technique used for killing insects on containers. It involves using a fine pesticide spray which is directed by a blower.

My response was, “It wouldn’t matter, because by June deɛ…,” I said no more hoping she would catch the drift. But she probed, “why June?”

“By June we would all be dead,” I retorted.

The long pause after this reply was enough to fill the air with indications that I had told an expensive joke. She would have none of that, asking “why would you say such a thing.” The rest of the conversation was a cocktail of disappointment and expression of disdain towards a young man whose poor judgement left the balance between his target audience and his choice of joke unweighted.

The thing is, I was only duplicating a morbid trend on social media dominating timelines on both Twitter and Facebook. Although its origin is unclear, many have jokingly embraced this widely shared prediction, despite a non-existent scientific backing, that the world would be wiped away by the month of June as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For a country that has seen a rise in novel coronavirus cases to 641 with 83 recoveries 8 deaths as of April 15, 2020, some Twitter users would rather laugh about the development than cry over spilt milk.

'By June deɛ': A grotesque internet trend trading death for laughs in a pandemic

Societal norms, especially in Ghana, preach a strong resistance to making jokes about issues surrounding death and the afterlife. Assertions about the dead are considered to be sacred across all traditions and therefore respect for the transmission is very paramount.

However, millennials have joined forces with Generation Zs to breach that caveat into creating a new wave of sarcasm out of this sacred rite of passage.

Even more pronounced is the latest Ghanaian meme which has now gained international acclaim, named ‘Dada Awu,’ to wit ‘Daddy has died.’

It’s a video of Ghanaian pallbearers demonstrating their casket-carrying skills by orchestrating a choreographed routine, lifting it up and lowering it and even sitting on the floor if need be.

If you think this is too dark to imagine, social media users are of a different view. Snippets of a BBC feature in Ghana about dancing pallbearers edited to include the EDM song Astronomia by Tony Igy and Vicetone has gone viral.

Portions of the feature are added to responses to post on social media to express impending devastation.

Though grotesque, posts such as these portray injury or death interestingly woven in a way to elicit humor in the recipient.

This could be insensitivity, as some point out, but finding pleasure in watching people get injured or die has always been around. We were just not looking hard enough.

In fact as of 2018, the number of subscribers on a ‘Watch People Die’ community on Reddit had exceeded 425,000, excluding the numbers that watch without signing in. As The Guardian would put it, neither do they pass away (too polite), nor go to a better place (too peaceful). They are beheaded, incinerated, exploded, crushed, electrocuted, drowned, mangled, stoned and disemboweled.

If the increased pressure of data usage as announced by Ghana’s telecommunication industry is anything to go by, the devil is indeed finding work for the idle hands in this lockdown. Boredom has always been the go-to culprit.

But again, that is subject to perspective because a funeral where everyone is laughing, has only sufficed in a horror movie.

The social distancing protocols being enforced across Ghana has left the country’s citizens dead, literally. How you choose to use the tools such as the internet in these moments, will dictate your stake in your community after the embargo is lifted. Making the best out of it while sharing what can best be described as morbid memes with and friends and relations also makes for the personal connection.

As to what is laughable and what is not, you could be the judge.

Either ways, June is around the corner. We live to see.

The author Kenneth Awotwe Darko is a journalist with The Multimedia Group, a social media analyst and enthusiast.

Twitter: @TheKennethDarko

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.