Date of Award

Spring 4-18-2022

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Communication and Digital Studies

Department Chair or Program Director

Rao, Anand

First Advisor

Crosby, Emily

Major or Concentration

Communication and Digital Studies


With the recent events of COVID-19, it is necessary to examine how everyday citizens responded to the public health messages delivered by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. government and how these responses revealed and impacted the effectiveness of the organization’s messages. Furthermore, it is important to consider the potential humor has as an information spreading tool within the collaborative medium of social media. This study analyzes three different digital humor artifacts using a chronological rhetorical analysis in order to understand how we communicate health crisis initiatives over social media. The research findings show the change in humorous reactions on social media as the CDC’s messaging changed and became more solidified. This insight demonstrates the necessity for messaging to be more focused and solidified throughout an organization and their affiliates because of social medias participatory nature. The public can provide their feedback, change the message, and/or spread the message. This is important because it is difficult for organizations to be the first to address an issue while also having a concise organized plan. This research also revealed that using humor to cope and increase engagement are prominent within the digital medium of social media and has the potential to have a further reach because of the sharing nature of social media.