Pandemic. Severe storms. Insurrection. Climate Change. Poverty. Mass Shootings. A big boat stuck in the Suez Canal.
One of these things is not like the others.
The quarter-mile-long Ever Given was dislodged from the banks of the Suez Canal Monday after it spent nearly a week blocking maritime traffic through the narrow waterway. As yet another global crisis draws to a close, it’s worth noting how much different this felt from all the other things that have gone wrong in the world recently.
This crisis felt almost … refreshing?
Think of all the disasters that have impacted us personally, all the problems that need all of us doing our part to address and all the ones we’re made to feel responsible for no matter how systemically ingrained or gargantuan in scale they are. None of that applies here.
No one was starving. No one was getting bombed. It was just a big boat lodged in a canal halfway around the world bringing traffic to a standstill like Interstate-35 construction: delightfully low-stakes.
Not to mention, unless you’re involved in the global shipping industry, it’s hard not to find it all funny.
The internet already turns everything into a joke. Combine the global impact and low level of danger of the Suez Canal blockage, and suddenly you have meme gold. Everything from the tiny excavator brought in to dig out the stricken vessel’s bow to the Suez Canal itself instantly became punchlines.
One of the best, from Twitter user @onlinelonghorn, parodied the now-ubiquitous gallery posts informing users of current events and advising them on how to make a difference.
“what’s happening in the suez canal and how you can help,” the slides said. “boat stuck. cant help.”
When salvage crews finally freed the ship, Twitter users came out in force to demand they “put it back.”
That’s not to say it was all sunshine and rainbows. Roughly 12% of global trade was impacted by the blockage, and the litigious blame game that follows will likely have billion-dollar consequences for the parties involved.
But when the COVID-19 death toll, civil unrest and the ever-present specter of climate change regularly grab headlines, it’s nice to have a catastrophe that poses little threat to life and limb to laugh at.