In today’s world, it can seem like the negative far outweighs the positive. It seems like people are more divided than ever, especially in a time when two main political parties seem angrily divided, views can turn people against each other. It seems today people who have differing views about major issues turn to arguing instead of explaining. This heightened sense of awareness has lead people to draw certain lines in the sand deeming certain topics unacceptable, which in turn leads to arguments about what is and what is not okay to say or do.
While it is true that the world is becoming more politically correct and conscious of how our words and actions affect people, it is now more than ever that we need the power of humor and laughter. People have deemed it not okay to make light of certain topics, and while this is true about certain sensitive topics, it drives the tension deeper and deeper between people who do not agree on what those topics are.
In turn, the argument is made that to some people, these topics are not meant for jokes as it is their reality. This point is completely fair and valid. However, there are positive ways of responding that can lead to an understanding of each other, instead of a further disconnect. For example, if you were to hear a remark or joke that offends you, ask the person why they made that remark. Start a conversation and use it as a way to educate instead of attack, hopefully, both parties will walk away with a better understanding of each other.
However, in a world where tension runs high, I argue that we need to be able to laugh about some things. In fact, for some people, it is how they cope with the events and negativity that swirls around them in everyday life.
For instance, sometimes it can feel like America has been divided on some major social and political issues and every news story seems to be another negative stemming directly from two sides with strong opposite mindsets. In the midst of turmoil, it should be okay for someone to use humor to lighten the tension and deal with the world around them.
I was always taught that if you cannot laugh at yourself about something, then you are too uptight. I think this saying is true about the world we live in today.
In fact, people now turn to what we classify as “cancel culture,” where if someone in a prominent position makes a comment or joke outside the bounds of what people may be comfortable with, they then feel the need to “cancel” this person. This is in effect just as negative as what some people say to be canceled. We as a society turn on someone because they decided to do one thing that people do not agree with.
However, this notion does not make much sense, as we are saying to someone that they are not allowed to express themselves in a way that they feel comfortable. Furthermore, our reasoning is because it makes us uncomfortable. People rarely stop to think that a joke that may make them uncomfortable may make someone else feel more comfortable and help to deal with the usual negativity surrounding that certain topic.
For example, as someone who has struggled with their weight their entire life, I find myself making jokes about it and personally do not really care when someone makes a wisecrack every once in a while. This is because I am comfortable and mature enough to know that it was a joke and that the person who said it is not evil and without a doubt has insecurities as well.
This does, however, change in some cases and it is always good to use common sense when choosing your words. Topics such as mass loss of life, aggressive or violent stereotypes of any group of people and other tragedies are never okay to make jokes about.
I am not saying that people should have free reign to say and do offensive things, but people should recognize when it is serious and when it is humorous. So, sit back, relax and laugh at a joke or two.
Jamison White is a sports reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.