I’ve had this written for a long time, but I just was not funny on Facebook again, and a funny thread was ruined by a bad joke so thought I would share this with some edits today.
I am a funny guy. Most of the time.
But occasionally I offend people…really bad…even less occasionally. The later happens less each day as I learn how to actually be the former. The thing I have learned is to not joke at sensitive or serious situations. Death is never funny to me, so I don’t even try to use humor to change other’s moods around that. Weight or size or ethnicity are also generally not funny. As Tim Minchin says, “Only a ginger can call another ginger ‘Ginger’”, and it is also true that only a chunky, fluffy or fat person can call themselves fat or a short person, short. It’s not funny when it is confirmed by someone else. Especially a friend.
But something I realized recently shocked me again as life has gotten more complicated and stressful.
Sarcasm was a crutch for a long time. I would say what I really felt or meant but with a tone that allowed people to laugh it off.
“I hate it when you cancel plans with me.”
“You are the last person I hoped would have come to my party”
“No, it’s ok. I’ll get that.”
They thought I was being funny, but I was actually hurt. Then when I told friends this is what I was doing, they noticed it and were hurt how I treated their friendship. How I was consistently sarcastic with them, and some were not sure when I was joking and when I was not. This was never truer than in print. I tend to be a different, more eloquent speaker in print…just ask the beautiful Hannah. I was shaken when I noticed this sarcasm started creeping into my virtual life.
It is hard to tell when someone is offended or just joking when it is written and you can’t see emotion. So some 14 year old girl invented emoticons, which if you didn’t know should only be used by 14 year old girls. Yes, only one gender, and only for a year of life. It will save the world.
I don’t use emoticons, because they ruin my image and I don’t want to be mistaken for a 14 year old girl, especially online. So how do I deal with emotion or sarcasm or jokes in just words?
Words. I use well picked words. Words should be emotional. And jokes should be written only when safe. When you get a gauge of how the reading party will receive those words. I know not to joke with teachers or childcare workers about having a “real job”. Their work is far more influential on influential minds than mine ever will be and know this, but it isn’t always taken that way. So I stopped saying that, as well as using sarcasm in emails or on Facebook when situations are tough.
I changed and grew by realizing jokes or humor is not always appropriate and it is a lot easier to let a bad joke die than have to explain yourself for a minute, hour or evening!