Friday, 17 October 2014
Almost 30,000 people have taken to social media
Almost 30,000 people have taken to social media this month to debate whether Ebola-themed Halloween costumes, be they home-made or store-bought, are a great idea or yet another indication of society's moral decay.
Brands on Sale is advertising the "Ebola containment suit costume, a kit that includes a protective bodysuit, goggles and breathing mask. Johnathon Weeks, the company's vice president, says they sold about two dozen on Wednesday and expect to move well over a thousand by the end of the month.
"This is an Ebola containment healthcare worker costume; it's not the Ebola disease costume; it's not an Ebola victim costume," says Mr Weeks. "It's no different in my eyes than what a firefighter costume would be, or doctors and nurses costume. Those people save lives every day, just like these people are."
Making light of tragedy is a common way people cope with their greatest fears, according to Penn State Altoona Prof Jerry Zolten, who teaches a class in stand-up comedy. It's also an easy way to get a big reaction.
"Some people delight in shocking their friends and are among the first to tell jokes about things that are putting fear in everybody's minds," Zolten says.
He says a joke like this can be a way to deal with stress.
"It's well known that people who are in high-risk jobs - ambulance workers, people who see horrible things all the time - will joke about it amongst themselves right there on the job, as needed."
He cautions, however, that this doesn't always extend to the general public.
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Indeed, for many online, donning an Ebola-themed Halloween costume seems like a callous way to approach a serious situation.
Chances are that the appearance of trick-or-treater or Halloween partygoer dressed in a bio-hazard suit will cause more unease than laughter, as similarly-clad healthcare workers scramble to deal with a disease that has left thousands dead in Western Africa.