Okay. I’ve been thinking on something for awhile. For a REALLY long while. Like, since I found myself really upset at the existence of a website called “People of Wal-Mart”. THAT’S how long I’ve been thinking about this. THAT WEBSITE IS OLD, YO. I mean, not Geocities or Ask Jeeves old, but you know…old enough to prove that I’ve been mulling this topic around in my head longer than the 30 minutes I’ve been awake this morning. Which is more than I can guarantee for most days in November.
Here’s the topic: Is There Ever A Time Where Humor At The Expense Of Others Creates A Net Gain Of Good/Positive Energy?
I say “net” because I always want to factor in the expense of the person (people) who is (are) being made fun of.
Let’s start simple:
If George posts a picture of someone at his kid’s recital wearing a white tanktop and baggy jeans and is all, “Look at this classy guy at my kid’s recital!” on Facebook then you would assume the GAIN would be that it makes all of George’s Facebook friends laugh and that creates a nice positive energy in each of their lives. BUT – what if that guy happens to be the brother of one of George’s Facebook friends? And that FB friend obviously does NOT laugh because that’s her brother George is making fun of. And then what if she’s shows it to George? Then I think the hurt she and George feel would totally overpower the small momentary laughs the joke gave George’s Facebook friends.
“But no one knew the guy, so therefore there was never a negative! And it was just in good humor!”
I once brought this up with a friend YEARS ago who shared out a photo of someone at an event with a terrible outfit. And she said something about how if you wear something like that, you know you’re going to get made fun of, that’s why you wear it.
And I don’t know…maybe?
Sometimes I think my history of being made fun of in summer camp for things like only having enough outfits to make it through 4 days that week, meaning I had to duplicate some stuff, has scarred me and made me a little too sensitive to this topic. But whenever I see someone making fun of a stranger, it triggers this very intense hurt inside of me. And some days I’m like, “Kim. This is SO DUMB. QUIT LETTING THIS STUFF BOTHER YOU.” But then other days I’m all, “Yeah – but what if that person doesn’t realize that those kind of words might hurt someone? What if me bringing that up could shed some light on it from a different angle?”
I also got made fun of once for TRYING to replicate a cool outfit someone else wore at summer camp and not only A) did I fail miserably but B) the same jerkface who led all of the bully-Kim brigades specifically called out the fact that it was OBVIOUS I was trying to copy that other girl. So, not only were they making fun of my outfit, but they were mocking me for having the NERVE to try to do something a cool girl was doing.
SO, YEAH. I might be overly sensitive.
But I watch movies and comedians and nightly talk shows that make fun of people and I laugh, so it’s not like I’m perfectly immune to laughing at the expense of others. So I’ve decided lately to really analyze what makes me laugh. And if – in that moment – it’s a laugh at the expense of someone else who might be hurt if they knew I was laughing, then I want to really examine that. Did that joke make enough people laugh, and maybe be the kind of joke that wouldn’t really upset someone (like when people make fun of me for being a klutz – I own that), then maybe then it’s okay?
Or maybe is it okay when it’s in the comfort of your own home and you KNOW the person won’t find out? But then…does that create just a negative energy anyway? I’ve been in small circles where someone gets mocked and sometimes it makes me feel uncomfortable even if that person is no where around. Mainly because suddenly I worry: If I’m not around am I the butt of the jokes?
But really – maybe the problem is probably always me. Maybe no one in the world would be devastated to find out a picture of them at their kid’s recital in a trash outfit was being made fun of somewhere. Maybe some people would just be like Eh. I don’t care. I do me and I don’t care what anyone thinks. Maybe I’m the only one who has PTSD from summer day care and who immediately wants to cry on behave of anyone who is the butt of anyone else’s jokes…ESPECIALLY when there’s clothing involved. The “make fun of their outfit” thing is the worst trigger because SOME PEOPLE ARE BEING RAISED BY DADS WHO DON’T LIKE SHOPPING. JEEZUS. Give them a break.
I don’t know. Do you think people like me just need a thicker skin? Is there even a way to do “humor” without sacrificing someone’s feelings? I personally like to make people laugh making fun of myself, but is there a way to create a form of comedy that doesn’t make fun of SOMEONE? Or do you think maybe the world would be better overall if we stopped laughing at other’s expense, no matter what that meant on our humor landscape? I feel like Ellen Degeneres does a good job with making jokes at her staff’s expense but they’re always in on it and you can see it’s done from a place of love. Maybe that’s where it works?
Truthfully. It probably will always boil down to: Kim is too sensitive and carries too much baggage from summer daycare. And I’m okay with that, I think. Because regardless of what humanity should or should not be doing, I can at least rest easy that no one is going to read a status I post making fun of someone and get their feelings hurt by it.