|When I was a girl, boys had cooties. A friend’s daughter recently was warned by a fellow kindergartner not to touch or “you’ll get coronavirus.” In Boccaccio’s day you would have avoided someone “like the plague.”|
Until 2013 “oh well, no one lost a limb” was a light way to brush-off something that didn’t go as intended, like a downpour on the day of a long-planned outdoor festival.
After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, however, that saying invokes something that is really a possibility at an event. And with advancements in medical technology, prosthetic limbs are part of everyday culture (think Amy Purdy on Dancing with the Stars).
The saying at best is no longer relevant and to some insensitive or even offensive.
Coronavirus and New Twists on Old Jokes
|Already there are COVID-19 memes, videos, gifs and more circulating, like this one, with a new angle on the “cone of shame.”|
Many are funny. After all, laughing is one way to ease anxiety at a time when so much is uncertain. With daily changes, updates, cancellations, stock market angst, quarantine restrictions and global spread of the illness, it can be hard to differentiate between what’s real and what is exacerbated by panic.
Time to Put on Your Intercultural Glasses
|For many, thankfully (at the time this is written), the coronavirus is simply an inconvenience. Others see it as a true threat because of age or compromised immune system. And for most, we just don’t know|
It is, however, a time to put on your intercultural glasses, using intercultural in the broadest sense of respecting another’s individual perspective.
It’s not silly if your 85-year-old neighbor is really scared–listen and validate their concerns. Respect the wishes of your friend who is HIV positive and doesn’t appreciate jokes posted on Facebook. Loss of income and financial implications are real. Sneeze into your elbow. Help others if you can. Wash your hands, again. And stay home if you are sick.
Think about how what you say conveys your personal orientation to what’s going on. And know that it is just that: Your experience. It can be as simple as saying and asking “this is how I’m impacted right now…how are things with you?”
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The article originally planned for March was “Urban Slang: How What You Say Shows Your Age.” That was about generational influences on popular language and how to adapt and be more self-aware in your communications.
Read that article here.