How humour became social media’s weapon of choice against climate change

How humour became social media’s weapon of choice against climate change

PARIS, Dec 14 – On social networks, a growing number of people are shrugging off the drama surrounding global warming with sarcastic posts that mix dark humor and climate awareness. Here’s a look at this fresh approach to addressing the issue of climate change.

If you don’t laugh, you will cry. This is essentially the approach taken by internet users on various social networks in recent days. Faced with alarmist messages about the environment, which can limit us to a spiral of guilt, anxiety and fatigue, laughter has emerged as a new way to talk about the planet and the challenges it faces.

A study conducted at the end of September 2022 by Ifop for the Foundation de France shows that 90 percent of young people are concerned about climate change. But humor and laughter connect people, especially young people, enabling new ways of thinking and acting on issues that are deadly serious.

The best medicine?

From dark humor and sarcasm to self-deprecation, users are getting creative when it comes to coming up with jokes about the state of our planet, environmental policy and climate skepticism.

In one TikTok video, a young man named Malik walks in the snow, ironically considering the fact that snow may not exist in the future – all set to a 2010s musical soundtrack from Kesha’s die young. “Imagine trying to explain ‘snow’ to our grandchildren…

They will never believe it existed. They will be too busy dying of global warming,” explains Malik. The video has 364,000 likes and counting.

@itsmalikel kids be like “When I grow up..” Bro you NOT GROWING UP #fyp #komedie #klimaatsverandering #globalwarming Ke$ha – Die Young – 辰歌

Addressing climate change with humor is not entirely new. In the United States, television has been doing this for a while, especially through its late shows.

On the Internet, the Funny or Die website, founded in part by actor Will Ferrell, shared a skit about climate change denial several years ago, featuring elderly people who refuse to see the real state of the planet.

Then there is the famous speech by former US President Barack Obama, given at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2015.

The politician took an ironic stance in the face of climate change denial with the help of his “anger translator”, comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who joked: “Hey, listen, if you haven’t noticed, California is bone dry, it looks like a trailer for the new Mad Max movie up there.”

But does the message still get across when delivered with humor?

“Rather than ‘numbing’ science to the public, [using humour] is a ‘smart-up’ approach that has been shown to bring people together around a highly divisive topic,” explained Max Boykoff, associate professor of environmental studies and director, Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Colorado Boulder in a article about The conversation.

“Greatly bleak approaches and interpretations usually stifle audiences rather than inspire them to take action.”

A new form of criticism

In the age of the smartphone, social networks have taken over with memes. Numerous images, hijacked in the form of crazy montages, are effectively used to talk about environmental issues in a less dramatic way.

Take, for example, the many memes that emerged from the COP 27 climate conference about the plane trips taken by world leaders.

In a different style, the version of TikToker Oli Frost, followed by more than 80,000 users, pokes fun at climate-related conspiracy theories through comedy songs.

“Of course climate change is a conspiracy made by socialist vampires,” he sings in one of his tunes. It’s certainly an unusual way to laugh, but at least it stops us from crying. — ETX Studio

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