I like to think I have a good sense of humor. I’m a comedic actress and writer for a living, and have laughed so hard I’ve peed my pants. More than once. Clearly this gives me license to be an expert on what’s funny.
Lately, I’ve noticed a trend on the internet that makes my funny bone go limp. Parents seem to be so focused on being outraged that they’re losing any sense of humor. We are a society where the feelings meter is set to sensitive and sometimes even the most innocuous things someone says or posts online get us up in arms. In fact, some of you are already probably mad and ready to hit the back button on this post because I used the word “bone.”
But actually, don’t go. This post is for you.
This might be hard to hear, but not everyone who makes a wisecrack online or tells an edgy joke on TV is out to get you or tear down the feminist world as we know it. Yet we are becoming a society of parents who are ready—smartphone keyboard in-hand—to fire away on social media at anyone who makes a joke we don’t approve of. What happened to sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me? They’re just jokes, guys. Comedy is so subjective. I realize what makes me laugh (dog farts) may not be what makes you laugh (Chewbacca Mom) and that’s OK. There’s no need to blast your hurt feelings on the internet and bum everyone out. The goal of some comedians is to push the boundaries of social conventions and turn taboos upside down. So you can’t let comedy get to you. If you do, they win.
...[I]f you’re like this mom who got offended when a comedian compared having kids to ordering pizza then take a deep breath: It’s going to be a very long, stressful life.
I also want this message to be for the people out there who still have a sense of humor. It’s for those who don’t feel the need to angry comment or start a hashtag movement when they feel even the slightest bit infringed upon. Thank you for getting it. Thank you for knowing that we all need to lighten up a bit.
One case in point is a recent article I read from a dad who wanted everyone to stop saying “you’re adopted” as a jokey, off-handed comment. He was beyond offended by the idea that people still say that. I read his post and thought, "Man, this dad is a great writer, but we could never be friends. We have totally different senses of humor."
I mean, I'm not saying we need to make fun of people who are adopted and those who go through the adoption process, although I know some will read it that way. I just mean: Lighten up! Saying “you’re adopted” is a joke as old as comedy itself. Instead of teaching our kids to be butt hurt by someone saying “you’re adopted” let’s teach them why it’s just a cheesy joke and not to be offended by it. You can only be devalued by a joke if you allow it to have power over you.
There are also too many posts to count with various versions of “don’t mom-judge” as the theme where moms are feeling offended and judged by everything and everyone. Don’t judge my birth plan/feeding/clothes/discipline/wardrobe/politics. Mmmkay, we won’t (*wink wink*). If you feel like a joke is aimed at you directly and threatens your way of life, then by all means fire away. But if you’re like this mom who got offended when a comedian compared having kids to ordering pizza then take a deep breath: It’s going to be a very long, stressful life.
If we all stop writing about things that offend us, then the entire blogosphere as we know it will crumble.
The world is not out to get you. Not everyone knows the rules to your PC game or the sensitivities you have about parenting, so don’t expect them too. Look at the intention behind a joke and see if you can tell if that person means you harm. Chances are they don’t.
It seems like so many people have lost the ability to shrug things off or, better yet, take jokes as they are and laugh. Laugh! The internet has given us the "Power of Grayskull"! (Sorry, nerd moment.) It’s given us the power to vent our frustrations and our rage at anyone and everyone who might think they’re being funny but are actually damaging the foundation of our very existence. (See how dramatic that sounds?) Comedians have struggled with this debate for years. What do we joke about? What are “safe” topics? Should we throw caution to the wind and joke about taboo topics anyway? Part of what’s great about comedy is the ability to say things most people aren’t willing to say—or to shock and surprise the audience. The phrase “too soon” comes from comedians who know their comedy can have boundaries but have probably just chosen to push those boundaries anyway for a laugh.
I don’t mean to sound like I’m picking on bloggers here, because, hello! I am one. If we all stop writing about things that offend us, then the entire blogosphere as we know it will crumble. Instead, I just wanted to vent my frustrations when I see parents get so mad at something and waste all that precious energy. Movies, TV shows, songs, celebrities. None of them owes us anything, and they certainly don’t have to tread cautiously out of worry that a mommy or daddy blogger is offended by a joke.
I'd rather see parents teach our kids about comedy. Why not teach them the difference between someone who just has a different sense of humor and someone who is attacking their way of life? There's is a difference, you know.
Here's the deal: not everything I do or say will be funny, and many people will be unintentionally offended while I’m on my comedic journey. And if I’m ever offended by a joke, I hope I will have the presence of mind to shrug it off as a lame attempt to make me laugh, then move on with my life. Then go out and write a better joke than they did.