Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sense of Humor

Sense of Humor

I'm noticing a disturbing trend, with the media, with people on the street, in the office, and pretty much everywhere. People are trading in their sense of humor, for the option to complain about everything that they can get away with. What tool do they use to do this? Offence. They claim to be offended by nearly everything. What am I talking about? Where am I going with this? Let me explain better, and perhaps put what I'm talking about into better perspective. I'll give you a scenario.

Let's say you are talking with some people you don't know so well, but you know them well enough to know their names. Your trying to lighten the mood, so you make a joke. Not a racist joke, or some sick pedophelic sexual joke... Not even a blonde joke. A joke about how your dog uses the doggie door on your house back door to enter the house at amazing speeds (pure example, I don't own a dog, this actually happened to someone else, but I was witness to it). You make reference to how amusing it might be if you blocked the inner side of the door, then opened the dog food bag with the window open so your dog could hear. *Thunk!*.

Now I don't claim to be the best person out there, I have as dirty a mind as some people, I've told a share of dirty jokes, I've done some things that many would find 'Contraversial', But I'd like to think of myself as a nice guy, I never mean anyone harm. But I think that if someone makes a joke WITHOUT the intent to offend or harm anyone...Then it shouldn't be taken as offensive. If I call someone I care about a fool in jest, I'm not actually meaning to convey that I beleive them to be a fool, It's simply in jest. This is usually given away by the exhibition of laughter I convey while making said statement, plus a smile. So why is the world brewing such hatred at that which is meant as jest, lighthearted banter?

Here is something to think about. You may read this and think to yourself (or at me) "But I love a good joke, Some of them are offensive, some are not, depends on the joke". Well, If I were just thinking of myself, I'd agree, but if you step back and look on people as a whole, you realise that this equation fluxuates itself to oblivion. Let me explain; Take any joke you really like, Think one up, I'll wait. (Of course I'll wait, you can stop reading while you think of one). Got one? Good. Now look at this joke, Is there ANYONE, in this world who might be offended by it? Not because of what they are, But maybe something they encountered? "I deal with those woodchippers all the time, and let me tell you, that joke's not funny". "I've never seen a monkey do anything like that, that joke is offensive to animals and animal lovers". "You can't really say that unless you know what it's like being trapped in a cab with a person in that state of mind". The list is endless.

In the end, Any joke can be offensive to the wrong person. So you have to make a choice, Do you risk offending someone? Or do you tell the joke at the chance of bringing laughter to your small social circle. I choose to take that risk.

And the next time someone tells a joke, or makes a humerous reference to something you just don't find funny, Don't focus on the fact that you think it's offensive, Step back a moment, think to yourself "Did they mean that to be innapropriate? Were they just trying to be rude? Did they mean to offend me?". If you can't answer yes to these, then chances are, they have no idea that you would be bothered by this joke. I'm not saying you have to laugh at it anyways, Just Try not to lash out at another's mood because of what was meant to brighten your day.

Now I accept that there are times and places where humor may not be appropriate. Ok fine. But understand that at that funeral, or sad time, some people's defence mechanism is humor. This is my vice, I use humor to recover, It helped me out of a depression that may have ended my life otherwise. So I (if you'll excuse the pun) take humor very seriously. I support humor. I've used it to bring loved ones out of sadness, and to bring a smile to an upset face. You know how it feels when one you love, your spouse, child, friend, is upset, sad, or depressed, and somehow you can bring them a smile. Think of how you have fealt, when someone came up to you when you told a joke, and gave you a 15 minute lecture on how terrible and insensative your joke was. When you meant no harm, you were trying to bring some joy.

Now of course I understand that some people out there DO use humor to offend, to be rude, to push the envelope beyond what's appropriate. This article does not refer to these circumstances. But rather to the growing inability in most people to tell the difference between these circumstances, and the harmless ones. If you are told a joke you find offensive, consider weather the person meant harm, or ill will. If your unsure, Ask, or just leave it alone. Chances are they didn't mean harm. If you simply let them know it was offensive (without the lecture, just say it, and move on) you can salvage the mood.

The mood, why do I place so much importance on the mood when a person is being offended. Well, because offended is just a mood as well. You are one person, so am I. In a circle of 5 people, one person tells a joke, and you might be offended. The other three are laughing, and the joke teller wasn't. Four people having fun, and your not. While you feel it's not fair that you should have to suffer while they laugh... Being offended isn't really suffering, and it will quickly pass. Have you the right to bring everyone else down to your "Suffering" simply because you didn't like the joke? It's fair to you that you should have the right to let the joker know that that joke bothered you. If they ask why, tell them, if not, drop it. But don't suck the energy out of the situation. If you must, leave the group, you have that right and freedom.

I am Sorry if this has seemed like a rant. Just that this has been an issue on my mind ever since I was a child. I made a joke that in hindsight was slightly offensive. I was on vacation, a comedian had been on stage, and half his act was prop humor with a vacum cleaner. After the show that evening, a few friends of mine were sitting in the lounge having a laugh, I mentioned the comedian's act, that I thought he was funny, a friend remarked that the show was half about vacum cleaners, I commended "Yeah, that part really sucked". The comedian had just walked by and heard my remark (though to this day I suspect he'd been listening longer, else how would he know we'd been talking about him). He become offended, and lectured me for 15 minutes, angry face and all, about how mean that was. I was 12 years old. He was a professional comedian. And all I made was the connection between suction and vacum cleaners. I'll agree that this joke could have easilly been taken by him the wrong way. But at my age, that was our level of humor. We still told fart jokes...(guilty admittance: I still do, though not as many). In retrospect, I guess I'm thankful for this occurance, as it's given me many a chance to think over this particular failing in humanity, the duality of the drive and need for humor, yet with the fight against it.

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