Creators behind viral video of quarantined Italians share warning: ‘Learn from our mistakes and don’t underestimate this’

A creator behind a viral video of quarantined Italians explains why people must pay attention to the coronavirus. (Photo: YouTube/A THING BY)
A creator behind a viral video of quarantined Italians explains why people must pay attention to the coronavirus. (Photo: YouTube/A THING BY)

Italians in quarantine are sharing important messages to themselves — to who they were 10 days prior to the nationwide shutdown, to be specific — and now a compilations of those videos has gone viral world-wide. In an effort to warn others about how detrimental the coronavirus outbreak really is, the creators of the video are speaking out about why people must pay attention.

The video, which has received over 3.7 million views on YouTube alone, was created by a Milano-based creative collective called A THING BY, founded in part by a man named Olmo Parenti. He tells Yahoo Lifestyle via email that while their city is at the epicenter of the coronavirus spread in Italy and Europe, they’ve channeled their efforts into communicating the impact of this disease with others, which they admittedly didn’t take seriously at first.

“When we were first informed by Italian media about the coronavirus reaching Italy my friend group and I (along with the majority of the country) really underestimated the issue; we were almost mocking the few people who believed the issue was serious from the get-go,” Parenti says. “But once we saw what was happening in Italy’s hospitals and we found ourselves stuck at home we decided we had to redeem ourselves in some way.”

He goes on to explain that he’s watched as people in the United States, England, Germany and France have responded to the coronavirus with the same lack of urgency or understanding as many Italians did in the beginning, and decided to create something that can save nations from making that same mistake. “We all realized how much our viewpoint had changed so quickly,” Parenti says, which lent to the idea of A THING BY’s latest video, published on March 15.

“We weren’t sure how people would react to our request; filming yourself talking in first person to yourself from 10 days ago directly into a camera isn’t the most comfortable thing to do (I know cause I tried). So we first asked our family and friends to do some tests and then — once we saw their videos — we also asked people on social media from all around Italy to send us their videos,” he explains. “The response was very surprising.”

The result is a collection of video diaries from over a dozen Italians who address their past selves when they were making light of the coronavirus, making fun of those wearing masks and pushing to live their normal every day lives.

“Idiot,” one person calls herself.

“The worst case scenario?” another prompts, “That’s exactly what will happen.”

Another goes on to address that countries like the U.S. are likely in the same place that Italians were 10 days ago. “A huge mess is about to happen,” one warns. Another says, “This issue is more serious than most of the world believes.”

Parenti explains that the hope is that the video will reflect how much other nations can help themselves by taking the coronavirus seriously now. “The situation is serious and I’m afraid most countries are already late (just like we were) in containing the spread of the virus,” he says. “The cool thing about mistakes is that you can learn from other people’s too...Learn from our mistakes and don’t underestimate this. We usually love taking risks ourselves, but this is not the time.”

People all over have responded to the “powerful” video and urged that it continues to be shared as it’s been re-posted by people like Katie Couric and platforms like the @feminist Instagram page. Parenti adds that A THING BY is currently working on a piece about the first two weeks of complete lockdown so that citizens of other nations can know what’s coming.

Most importantly, however, Parenti hopes that the camaraderie demonstrated by Italians is something that others can be inspired by.

“Within this health crisis we’ve seen Italians unite in a way that was probably unprecedented,” he says. “I hope the same can happen between all nations fighting in this.”

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For the latest news on the evolving coronavirus outbreak, follow along here. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides.