Naming it a "coronavirus party" was obviously meant to be ironic, but the social media response tells us something about ourselves.
People couldn’t believe what they were reading when “coronavirus party” started trending on Twitter.
A group of young adults in their 20s threw what they call a shindig in Kentucky, and they named it a “coronavirus party.” Then one of them actually came down with a case of COVID-19.
The most-liked response on Twitter was:
Kentucky’s governor, Andy Beshear, said:
This is one that makes me mad. We have to be much better than that.
Speculating on what they could possibly have been thinking, Beshear said the millennial party-goers did it due to a feeling of invincibility:
I guess thinking they were invincible flaunting the mass gathering prohibition
He also added a stern warning:
…anyone who goes to something like this may think that they are indestructible, but it’s someone else’s loved one that they are going to hurt.
But there’s something more going on here.
These millennials didn’t just think they were young and invincible. That would be the spring breakers in Miami everyone yelled at for a day after CBS News published some juicy clickbait of a sunburned bro with his hat on backward saying:
If I get corona, I get corona… whatever happens happens.
(I’m still not sure he wasn’t talking about beer.)
These spring breakers are the ones that merely thought they were invincible. So are the 40 people who threw a farewell party for their friend in Connecticut. After he made it home to Africa, he tested positive for coronavirus.
They didn’t call it a coronavirus party, which is why their story didn’t go viral. The Kentucky kids naming it that makes this an act of superstition – one that all of us participate in.
Obviously, the name was supposed to be ironic. What makes it ironic? The expectation that no one would get coronavirus.
The reason the millennials didn’t think they’d get COVID-19 from the party isn’t that they thought they were invincible. It’s because they named it a coronavirus party.
That may sound confusing, because all of Twitter’s take on it was: “Hey dummy, what did you expect would happen at a coronavirus party?” Supposedly worldly, sophisticated people are being ridiculously superstitious.
We don’t even know if the person got coronavirus at the party. But many of the media headlines insinuate that they did. It’s proof of our common delusion that branding – naming something – actually has the power to affect reality.