What’s the Harm in …

… laughing at someone’s hypothetical “expense?”

We all do it … well, maybe not ALL (there are some very saintly people out there … but I bet they too once DID it!) … but as a fairly reasonable generalization, we all use comedy as a means of dealing with situations and realizations that might be “too” painful or traumatic if we looked at them objectively. For instance, how many of YOU (I am DEFINITELY included in that “YOU!”) have made a joke about an ex- and his or her current “partner” behind his or her back? Usually these kinds of jokes are made in confidence to people who would never speak to the people at whom they are aimed. I do think we tend to utilize ideas like irony and folly in “humorous” ways as a sort of defense mechanism – we make fun of the new “partner” or the new friend (or whatever the object of the “joke” might be) in ways that seem obviously contradictory to what we knew about our former partners or friends because it gives us the feeling of stability – that we are the ones who are what we are and that these “others” just gave in to things they never believed in or liked before … and we find that to be “comical.”

I cannot speak to the veracity of the statements of irony or folly or whatever it is on which our seemingly “hilarious” points are based – I tend to be a very observant person (and I also tend to think I am “right” most of the time … ha!) and I do think many of the “jokes” I make regarding the “new” behavior of others I once knew well are often based in truth. For instance, a certain ex- of mine always had what SEEMED to be an innate FEAR of dogs and with that FEAR, an obvious dislike of anything even quasi-canine. However, a decade out with a new “partner,” it now seems that dogs are one of the centers of his life. I have made many “jokes” about this and other similar seemingly “obvious” ironies people tend to display as time wears on. In that example, I do not think there is much of a question about whether the newly found love for “man’s best friend” is an act … and I also do not think there is much of a question that I personally find some source of comfort in my sardonic remarks regarding this and similar 180s.

The question here doesn’t even really entail any element of hurting those at whose expense we make these kinds of remarks or jokes. The question, ultimately, to me, is if engaging in this sort of “comic relief” (true comic relief, really!) eventually hurts or helps our development as “better people.” Perhaps neither is true – perhaps this is just a true “neutral” territory where we can brush off our sadnesses and feelings of loss and “lack” by having a good laugh – a laugh that would never be heard by those who have caused said sadnesses, &c. It is an interesting thing to think about – I have realized that when I “make fun” of the partner of a certain ex I tend to feel more moody and experience more nightmares than when I do so with another “couple.” And, to be perfectly fair and honest, sometimes making these jokes about another partner of another ex makes me feel like five tons have been lifted off my shoulders. And then there are the examples where it feels good to laugh in the present … but knowing the person as well as I DID, I feel sad for what seems like their absolute ignorance regarding their own needs and their own future. It becomes a convoluted matter quickly when I think about multiple examples like this. Of course, I am the master of making the simplest of issues terribly tortuous.

At any rate, I just wanted to articulate that question here – namely, is it ultimately negative or positive for our mental/psychological/spiritual/&c. health (and then, of course, our physical health!) to make these kinds of snide remarks about others who will never know about the things that have been said or even thought about them? As per the above examples (however vague), I cannot seem to reach a consensus even with myself on this one. I suppose a fundamental aspect of my personality (aside from the judgment aspect on this one) is that I utilize humor for all kinds of purposes – including allowing myself to feel more “sane” by laughing at the foolishness of others. (See? That’s self-judgment right there!) I don’t know that I would be serving myself “well” if I were to simply “stop” laughing at things like the irony of suddenly loving dogs after a lifetime of being deathly afraid of them – in fact, I think I would be doing myself a great disservice by holding back my intrinsic impulse to laugh at such idiosyncrasies in life in general.

So I suppose I will turn this question to anyone who is interested in answering it (privately, publicly … asking if that matters is another post or series of posts unto itself or unto themselves!). I guess as long as no one is overtly (or covertly, really) hurt by these kinds of remarks, it can be a more beneficial “tactic” than turning it around again into something like anger or the causes underlying anger like resentment or fear (I think of the tendency to “want” revenge or to write angry posts or journal entries, &c. and how that extreme emotion can very literally spiral out of control from emotion to action … which is not good in most cases….). It’s an interesting thing to think about … at least for me!

At any rate, I hope you are all having a happy and healthy day or night wherever you are in the world! I have a short, funny post coming in the near future (I am actually currently waiting to hear the “conclusion” so I can write it up here!) – so I hope you can look forward to that! In the interim, for all of you “non-English” / “non-literature” majors out there (and for a refresher for all of you “past” said majors!), please do yourself a favor and read Erasmus’ “In Praise of Folly” – looking it up will likely bore you to tears, but I promise it is a good ol’ knee-slapper! It is one of the very few works of “literature” I KNOW will make me laugh my a$$ off every time I pick it up! It has certainly been “one of those days” for me, so to end this rambling post, I will leave you with a really dumb joke.

“An Irish guy walked into a bar …”

❤ Always, Beth

P.S. I have nothing against any of the Irish. Just felt that clarification was necessitated 😉


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