As many people transfer much of their lives indoors for the foreseeable future, it’s put even more pressure than usual on internet culture to provide entertainment and support. Which means memes, the default mode of communication online for many, now stand in for a huge range of quarantine moods, social connections, and concerns beyond just making us laugh.
As people adjust to the new lifestyles mandated by the spread of the coronavirus, memes about the pandemic itself have largely faded into the background. The concept of “a meme” has come to feel increasingly obsolete as the internet becomes the main way through which many connect. Living within a necessary online bubble means that memes represent not just passing jokes or fads, but an experience of reality itself: They are the conveyances of everything from social distancing woes to the perils of online education to breakout TV shows that have kept us distracted during these complicated times.
It’s pretty hard to imagine a true summation of This Quarantine Life without taking the multifaceted role of memes into account. But because memes are doing so much heavy lifting right now, it’s implausible to generalize or reduce them all into one broad theme. Rather, Vox is offering up our own version of the “Which quarantine house are you?” meme — because why focus on just one quarantine meme to explain the broad range of quarantine when you could use a quarantine meme that incorporates many of the others?
In this case, we came up with these lists of quarantine memes, based on general observation and a little crowdsourcing of what constituted a representative quarantine meme. We’re defining “meme” a bit loosely here, in part because quarantine-era memes themselves are less confined to specific meme templates and more about capturing a particular mood, idea, or moment. So join us, choosing which quarantine house you’d be most okay with occupying, and take a tour of through a virtual neighborhood transformed by Covid-19.