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.
They say Over 400 cases now and you’re still doing assignment.😐 By June na the lecturer sef die 😂— Nungua Mr Bean🎭🇬🇭 (@NanaThanos) April 12, 2020
😂 The trend list dey funny me. So we all agree say by June dier na y3 k)?? Kwatakwata kraa July ending na last batch go.— KALYJAY 💉🙈🌍 (@gyaigyimii) April 12, 2020
Since the #TheLockdown has been extended no deɛ By June deɛ na we all make Ghost ooo— Lusha (@ken_lusha) April 12, 2020
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.
By June dier what ? Ei be careful what you tweet as jokes.— Lily. (@dayummmzz) April 12, 2020
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.
Ghana’s, Covid19 cases, By june dier… pic.twitter.com/AX2aSDXZGS— Mr Rex🇬🇭🇰🇷 (@RexfordKingsley) April 14, 2020
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.
Forget about the fact that it’s been used by Coffin Dancers. The DJ ein mixes is flammable 🔥🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/5ee9zhkIRa— K O B B I E (@kritical_kobbie) April 12, 2020
Portions of the feature are added to responses to post on social media to express impending devastation.
All i want to hear is confirmation that the musician is obour— Kay 💧 (@Kaypoisson1) March 27, 2020
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.
Dada Awu go Spain 🇪🇸😂😂 pic.twitter.com/kf5u9vTgC0— Ata Adwoa 🙈 (@BBilson123) April 14, 2020
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.
Even the health professionals have joined na wo school drop out… dey there and be doing maturity 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/eP7hbvsnXg— Larbi SarkCess🇬🇭➕🐦💉 (@Larbi_SarkCess) April 13, 2020
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.