April Fools’ Day in the age of the coronavirus: Can we joke around – and if so, how much?

Did you hear…?

“Helmet laws are a thing of the past. Cyclists now have to show proof of vaccination instead. They expel so many aerosols that they need to be vaccinated to protect those around them from infection, according to findings by the Robert Koch Institute and the German Cyclists’ Association. The scientists looked at data from roadside air pollution sensors that had been certified for this purpose by TÜV Rheinland. They found that the virus concentration was up to ten times higher along some pop-up bike lanes than on neighboring streets with unimpeded car traffic. The copious nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel vehicles apparently form a kind of protective layer against the coronavirus. ‘Exhaust fumes have never been so healthy,’ one of the researchers said. The study only used data from Berlin and Paris because, despite the coronavirus crisis, the Cologne city council never managed to establish pop-up bike lines for more cyclists.”

It was just a joke…

The April Fools’ Day post here on the blog might have started like this. But how much can we joke around in the age of coronavirus? Is it okay to joke about vaccinations, or is that skirting dangerously close to what conspiracy theorists say? And are #helmetlaws really a laughing matter in the #bikebubble?

Did you know?

We all undoubtedly have our own opinions, but from a medical point of view, humor and laughter are one thing above all: very healthy.

More lightness and calmness through humor

I learned this from an information sheet drawn up by our own in-house occupational psychologists. Describing how humor affects us, they write: “We view problems more calmly. We feel lighter and have a sense of happiness. Our facial features and thoughts relax and we become more creative. We are able to focus more on our strengths and ability to influence things. Our capacity to act increases, and our confidence along with it.”

Is there a trace of sarcasm?

We could certainly all benefit from this.

But watch out:

Our experts explicitly warn that sarcasm, cynicism and schadenfreude can have negative side effects. “They’re often confused with humor, but they contain a high dose of bitterness that can reduce or even reverse the positive effects of humor.”

What kind of humor is helpful in the pandemic?

Admittedly, traces of sarcasm managed to pass through my face mask and find their way into the first paragraph of this blog post. But one variety of April Fools’ Day joke involves drawing attention to real problems in a humorous way. So I don’t entirely share the view of our company psychologists – I personally often find sarcasm and satire to be extremely funny.

How do you feel about it? What kind of humor is helpful in the pandemic, and where do you draw the line? Maybe you feel like the blind librarian Jorge of Burgos in The Name of the Rose, who fears laughter so much that he poisons every page of a supposedly long-lost book by Aristotele about comedy. Feel free to comment here on the blog or directly on the post on social media. I look forward to it. And I’m not being sarcastic here.


Alexander Schneider

Alexander Schneider

Senior Manager Corporate Communications

Always looking for exciting stories and topics that are interesting to tell. There are plenty of them in the company. As an “Immi” he enjoys living in Cologne and loves the city as much as his bicycle – with which he also commutes to work every day.

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