So I was Facebooking and added a comment to something a friend had posted, when I suddenly stopped myself that split second before I hit “Post.” Truly, it was a funny comment. On the surface. But all if a sudden I realized that it also was derogatory to that person. And it was based on something superficial.
The person my friend had posted about is a public figure and there was absolutely no chance they would ever see it…,or probably would even care if they did. They are used to that sort of thing and either have developed a thick skin, don’t spend excessive time on social media, or are just enamored with the fact that people know who they are. We don’t hang out in the same circles and there are many layers of separation between our friend groups ((to my knowledge….maybe some of you do know them and have been holding out on me.)
That was all beside the point The comment crossed the personal boundaries I have set for myself. I don’t want to be funny if it is unkind to other people. What if someone said the same thing about someone I loved? My claws would come out! When I realize that, maybe it’s best not said.
I love humor, as does most of my family, so we’re all pretty quick with a quip. It was much appreciated as I was growing up. Our household was funny. Sometimes I can be so quick, the thought comes out before I think about it. While funny, sometimes the comment is not appropriate to the audience or the situation. Sometimes it is insulting or mean. Not that I in any way intend for it to be that way….it’s all said for humor. I figure people know that, and should not be offended. But the reality is that sometimes people are offended. And hurt. Their surface reaction doesn’t matter. Often they will not ever let on…because that would mean they are not a good sport. Or then people would know they were hurting.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what is funny and what is not. And what is appropriate and what is not. Oh, I do appreciate the inappropriate. Perhaps too often. That doesnt’t make it right.
The public nature of social media adds to the issue. What we say and do can be easily spread. Once it is out there, it is difficult take back. It can move outside of our control. A weak “I didn’t mean it that way” won’t stop it nor will “That was said to certain people in a certain context and you have destroyed that by reducing it to a meme.” Few care. Or maybe that makes it funnier to them.
Humor is often at the expense of humiliating someone. It’s been around for ages and it makes most of us laugh. Humor that is done to watch the reaction of people in certain situations (think Candid Camera.) If it embarrasses that person, or could embarrass that person, is it really funny? So OK….probably yes. But is the humor worth the cost?
I get very uncomfortable with jokes that are based on certain stereotypes or prejudices. How do you react to jokes that are based on race or sexuality? How about weight or appearance? Or age or religion? I still haven’t figured out the best way. Yeah, sometimes I get on soapbox, but is that helpful? It hasn’t seemed to be. I come off as a humorless zealot. But silence….does that help either? Is just not laughing enough? I confess to most often trying to divert the topic or change the subject. Mostly it makes me feel uncomfortable. Sometimes this humor has wings and if allowed to fly reinforces our most evil sides for generations. It brings people down and doesn’t build any of us up.
This struggle is not something that is going away for me any time soon. I still will find inappropriate things to be funny. My mouth will still go into overdrive and say something funny without thought of the ripples it can create. My heart tells me that kindness should trump humor…even though that hasn’t fully made its way to all areas of my brain yet. I still think in those situations I should consider how I would feel if I, or someone that I love (especially those who are the sensitive types), were the subject.
One day I might find the balance. Or figure out when it matters. Until then, forgive me for my transgressions and feel free to hold me accountable. And ignore it when I roll my eyes. That is probably evidence of my issue and not yours.