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We Are The Virus refers to a catchphrase associated with environmentalists which argues that the environment's improvement during the period of social distancing brought on by the Coronavirus outbreak proves that humanity is "the virus" and the Coronavirus is earth's "vaccine" or "cure." After several tweets making this point spread on Twitter, others parodied them by posting pictures of garbage or photoshopped images and humorously suggested the same thing.
The wave of self-quarantining that came as a result of the social distancing practices employed by multiple cities and states across the globe led to some positive unintended consequences for the environment. For example, air quality improved in China and the United States. Others claimed that canals in Venice were cleaner, though this was false. Canals in Venice were clearer and it was possible to see more wildlife there due to decreased boat traffic, but they were not cleaner. While there were some short-term positive environmental impacts due to social distancing, the idea that earth was "healing" was not true.
On March 17th, 2020, Twitter user @ThomasSchulz tweeted:
Wow… Earth is recovering
- Air pollution is slowing down
- Water pollution is clearing up
- Natural wildlife returning home
Coronavirus is Earth’s vaccine
We’re the virus.
While others had tweeted similar sentiments, this tweet spread widely, gaining over 70,000 retweets and 290,000 likes (shown below).
People began parodying the sentiment a week later. For example, Twitter user @hortonhearseusa_ posted photoshops featuring exotic animals appearing in unusual places, gaining over 3,500 retweets and 17,000 likes (shown below, left). Twitter user @zenzor1 tweeted a picture of an extinct Liopleurodon swimming in Australia, gaining over 70 retweets and 240 likes (shown below, right).
Others posted pictures of trash in the wild, such as washed up bikes and scooters, as though they were animals. For example, Twitter user @hamishtaylor posted washed up bikes, gaining over 700 retweets and 3,900 likes (shown below, left). User @taladorei made a similar joke showing lime green scooters, gaining over 77,000 retweets and 425,000 likes (shown below, right). Jokes were covered by Junkee.