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7 most ridiculous coronavirus-related things we’ve seen online

By Catharina Cheung 31 March 2020

Note: This is a satirical piece.

Blame it on the self-isolation and social distancing. In the absence of real-life human interaction, we’ve been spending more time than ever scrolling through the dark realms of Twitter and TikTok to retain our increasingly fraying grasp on reality. Unfortunately, this also means we come across a lot of stuff that’s made us spit out our tea or roll our eyes so hard they were in danger of being stuck in the back of our heads forever. Here are some of the most ridiculous coronavirus-related things we’ve seen online, for your viewing (dis)pleasure.

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Coronavirus challenges

If you thought Danielle Bregoli of “Cash me ousside” fame was bad, think again. 22-year-old Ava Louise recently posted a video of herself on TikTok licking a toilet seat as part of a “coronavirus challenge.” Of course, she was widely criticised for the disgusting behaviour and the video has since been taken down, but not before it spread like wildfire on social media. Since then, this unsanitary KOL wannabe has been given much more recognition than she deserves: She has been featured on Dr Phil twice, where she understandably got criticised by the TV therapist and threatened to cough on him in retaliation. 

Louise went on to say that the contentious video was shot in the toilet of the private jet, which she had disinfected first, claiming to be “like, really annoyed that corona was getting more publicity than me.” Infamy is largely equated with fame on social media, so of course, this sparked a flurry of “coronavirus challenge” TikTok clips, including people licking toilet bowls, car door handles, footballs, trees, and deodorant bottles in a supermarket, among other things. In the worst turn of events inspired by this craze, a 21-year-old who took part in the challenge reportedly posted footage of himself in a hospital bed, tweeting, “I tested positive for Coronavirus.“ Well, then...

In Hong Kong, we’ve had our very own Ava Louise in one Joel Werner, who had his friends film him licking his fingers and wiping them onto a handrail on the MTR. Apparently, this was meant to educate about the ease of spreading fake news amidst the pandemic, though we’d very much like to question what kind of “education” this 43-year-old has been put through. 

Obviously, the clip then went viral and as the angry comments mounted, and the MTR Corporation and the police got involved, Werner tried to douse the fire by showing a second clip of himself disinfecting the handrail with alcohol gel afterwards. Do you remember seeing this follow-up video? Yeah, we didn’t think so, because nobody cared about his excuses.

The panicked hedge fund manager who runs Solitude Capital Management then spoke to The Post and uploaded a written apology onto Facebook in both English and Chinese, lamenting that the whole affair was embarrassing because he manages people’s money, that it’s all “very upsetting,” and that he “[feels] like a victim of a crime.” Way to make this about yourself, bud.

Spring break

For the unfamiliar, spring break is a vacation period where students all across America gather for extensive partying, usually at the beach. It is one of the most popular events on the American student’s social calendar, and this year, despite COVID-19 blowing up across the country, students flocked to the beaches of Florida in droves to celebrate spring break. Photos and videos circulating online show beaches across the state packed with spring breakers, lying side-by-side on the sand or frolicking in the ocean in groups, with no apparent concern for the pandemic sweeping the globe.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has recommended distance learning in universities until the end of the semester, as well as ordered bars and nightlife entertainment venues to close for 30 days, but did not announce statewide closure of beaches. Instead, the Floridian authorities have left it up to intoxicated spring breakers themselves to adhere to safety guidelines set by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention: namely that there should be no groups of more than 10 on the beaches, and to maintain a six-feet distance from others. Needless to say, no such thing happened on the sunny beaches of Florida over the past few weeks, and there has since been a spike in college-age students testing positive for coronavirus after going on spring break holiday. So much for flattening the curve.

Home quarantine tracking wristbands

In a bid to get travellers arriving in Hong Kong to isolate themselves for 14 days, tracking wristbands were given out to all arrivals at Hong Kong International Airport. However, the government’s chief information officer Victor Lam admitted on March 20 that of the 6,000 bracelets in circulation out there, only about a third were fully functional. Though these efforts are arguably already better than what other countries are doing, the fact still remains that there are potential coronavirus carriers running loose in the city who the government cannot track.

A large group of Hongkongers studying overseas have also recently returned home, raising fears of potentially picking up the virus en route and inducing this second wave of outbreaks in our city. It would be fine if people could just stay at home and sit out the quarantine period, but similar to America’s spring breakers, a small percent of these homing birds have brushed off public safety measures and decided to evade home quarantine restrictions en masse by snipping their tracking wristbands off.

Last week, Lam further explained that the wristbands handed out (then numbering some 30,000) were not “smart” devices; in other words, the situation we’ve all imagined—that of an alarm going off in a dim room if someone with a tracker steps outside their home, and a SWAT team disguised as homeless bums immediately tackling said person to the ground—is not at all the case. The authorities are not alerted if a wristband wearer leaves their home; this has become apparent in the flood of social media posts showing wristband wearers out and about.

Now, as we all know, all venues such as clubs and bars have had to shut down, and public gatherings are limited to groups of four or below. As much as we miss happy hour, we suppose it’s rather a necessary rule to implement, largely because people have zero self-restraint and can’t fully be trusted to do what’s right for their community.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Star-studded Imagine

Gal Gadot and a bunch of other A-list celebrities released a collaborative rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine to bring us all together during this time of separation, but it really is one of the most tone-deaf things we’ve had the displeasure of seeing. The very fact that these celebrities thought it was a great idea to sing a song that includes the line “Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can” while surrounded by their millions in material possessions, and while the rest of the world has to make the hard choice between health and paying the bills, is just laughable in the extreme. If gathering around a campfire singing Kumbaya is going to cure the world, we’d have done it already, sis. Apart from being condescending, it’s stuff like this that really hits home just how disconnected the one percent are from the rest of humanity—or reality in general.

More cringe-y celebs

When will public figures stop putting their feet in their mouths? We’d have thought that having millions of followers would alert them to the fact that they should be careful with their words and actions, but apparently not. Vanessa Hudgens recently went on Instagram Live to interact with her fans, and apparently expressed that public fear was overblown, saying that, “Yeah, people are going to die, which is terrible, but like, inevitable.” Nobody is under the illusion that they’re going to live forever, but having to make ends meet in the face of a global pandemic is the reality that a lot of people are facing. There are so many who don’t have the privilege of staying home, of private healthcare, or of being able to belittle the COVID-19 virus, but we suppose those facts went over Hudgens’s head along with common sense. Sharpay would never.

Another celebrity who has recently come under fire for being attention-seeking and doing silly things for the clout is singer Sam Smith. After being forced to self-isolate, Smith posted a series of pictures of themself sitting on their doorstep in increasing states of despair, seemingly crying into their hands, captioned “Stages of a quarantine meltdown.” 

It remains uncertain who took the pictures for them, why they were doing so while Smith was having a mental breakdown, or if Smith was the one who took the selfies, and if so, why they thought their meltdown needed to be documented for the public. Hoards of Smith’s fans have praised the singer for being relatable, with some tabloids such as PinkNews even going so far as to proclaim “Sam Smith is every single one of us as they go through coronavirus ‘quarantine meltdown’”. You really have to feel bad for these celebrities’ publicity people.

Being tagged all the time

Let’s have a show of hands: who’s been tagged on social media to draw fruits and vegetables, pick their Disney favourites, post a picture of themselves in the name of sisterhood, list the top F&B establishments they want to return to, or cross out a bingo sheet of things you’ve done while in quarantine?

Yeah, we’ve done all of it too, and while it was fun in a nostalgic way, now we’re just slowly going insane from the sheer repetition of these posts going around. It sort of feels like we’ve been sucked into a timewarp and gone back to the days of Xanga blogs and Livejournals. If we see one more Instagram story of people doing the hand emoji challenge, we’re likely to deactivate. The real challenge here is having to DM people saying, “No. Thank you for thinking of me, but no.”

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Racist behaviour

Wow, people. It’s 2020 and racism is still alive and well, with coronavirus as the trigger bringing tension that’s previously been kept at a low simmer to a boiling point now. Asian people worldwide are being shunned like lepers (even though some victims of this racism aren’t even Chinese) and reports of hate crime have shot up.

Asian Americans, in particular, have been targeted hard; President Donald Trump himself has added fuel to the fire by calling COVID-19 “the Chinese virus.” Despite clear racist overtones, Trump insisted last week that he stands with the Asian American community, though also tacking on, “I talk about the Chinese virus and I mean it. That’s where it came from.” With such blatantly xenophobic rhetoric coming from top-down, it’s no wonder that so many people, online or otherwise, feel confident in being overtly hostile to people of various Asian ethnicities.

A great example of this behaviour is when Sin-Paulus Campus College Waregem in Belgium uploaded a photo of some of its secondary school students onto its Instagram and Facebook pages. The students were wearing Asian-inspired outfits and holding up a sign that says “Corona Time.” Most of the male students are shown wearing Mandarin jackets—with a couple in panda onesies—while the girls sported vaguely imperial Chinese-era robes. Bizarrely, they had also topped off the ensemble with hats that resemble the Vietnamese nón lá or Cambodian do'un, in a haphazard mishmash of Asian cultures. One of the girls can also be seen pulling up the corners of her eyes in the photo. Following intense backlash, the school quietly removed the offending photos, changing their Instagram to private and deleting their Facebook page altogether.

We like to think of ourselves as civilised and “woke,” but the fact remains that racist acts are a fact of life even in the most liberal of Western societies; the coronavirus outbreak is simply being used to justify the bigoted beliefs of a certain minority. Who else is sick and tired of it all?

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Catharina Cheung

Senior editor

Catharina has recently returned to her hometown of Hong Kong after spending her formative years in Singapore and the UK. She enjoys scouring the city for under-the-radar things to do, see, and eat, and is committed to finding the perfect foundation that will withstand Hong Kong’s heat. She is also an aspiring polyglot, a firm advocate for feminist and LGBTQIA+ issues, and a huge lover of animals. You can find her belting out show-tunes in karaoke, or in bookstores adding new tomes to her ever-growing collection.

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