As a wise philosopher once said: “Humor is just another defense against the universe.” Okay, maybe it was Mel Brooks. But you know that’s at least a little bit true.
Yes, we are living in Very Serious Times: pandemic, politics, climate change, oh my. So is it uncouth, Shanna Loga asks on Medium, to, say, post a silly joke on your social media accounts while Very Serious Things are happening? Or does the wildness of the world mean we need dumb humor more than ever?
Loga recounts how she was chided by a friend for sharing a humor piece on Facebook on the day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. And yet the discomfort and fear of that particular moment were precisely what drove Loga to seek out the comfort of jokes. When big, scary things are happening, Loga reminds us, laughing at the things we have in common—including and maybe especially the small, silly things—can be grounding:
Humor can remind us that there’s more to us than this moment. It can bridge the gap — reminding us of our common humanness. We all fart and poop and have body odor and worry about getting older and worry about dying and wish we could hug Betty White, who can never die. This type of humor has a special name — affiliative humor. It’s the humor we find in everyday life. It brings us closer together by highlighting our common experiences.
Many of us are craving connection right now. We’ve been craving it for nearly a year. And yes, of course, checking in with the people we love—giving one another space to process hard, heavy feelings—is an important part of sustaining those connections. But why not also seek it out by reaching for shared moments of lowbrow joy?
Loga outlines more ways humor can help us here: