Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

"Where's your sense of humor?"

Certain things, I don't joke about. Sometime in the past year, I added to that list: I don't want to joke about elections or ballots. I was telling someone that I'd walked to a library branch last night to turn in my ballot for today's city election, and I first considered adding "Ballots go in the Book Return, right?" — pretty feeble as a joke, but it's where my mind went — but then I thought: Nah. To expand on that nah, my real feeling was It adds nothing to pretend not to know how elections and ballots work, and it really doesn't help to imply that I'm so bad at voting that I'd almost literally throw away my vote like that.

I realized I'd feel worse if I made that joke. That there were implications to that joke. So I didn't make it.

That's not why I joke. Fundamentally I joke to make myself and, I hope, others feel better. I think I realized this as a kid, even back when I had a really hard time joking about anything. I was teased and low-level bullied as a kid — I know seriously bad bullying can contribute to people wanting to kill themselves, and I never got it that bad — and it never dawned on me, as it did to plenty of people, to become funny as a diverting tactic. Maybe it should have; maybe if I had, I would've gotten funny earlier. Or maybe the bullies would have changed tactics to not understanding, and replying to any attempted joke of mine with the dreaded "What?" — I already had a great dislike of being misheard, of being misunderstood — and I'd've backfired. Hmph. (Yes, I had to build my sense of humor. It didn't come to me naturally. You may be able to tell.)

So I didn't make that joke. And I wonder how I'd react to people making jokes about elections and ballots, and I know I'd rather they not — but then there's another issue: anyone who'd react to me not liking whatever joke of theirs with Come on! That was funny! Where's your sense of humor? In other words, me not finding them funny means I never, and will never again, find anything funny. Any times we'd joked together before? Forgotten, because I didn't like a joke. It's self-centered; they'd be saying I decide how you should joke, not you.

Or, related, You're gonna run out of stuff to joke about. "If we can't joke about [x], eventually we won't be able to joke about anything!" A tactic beloved by many people called on for a joke they made.

No. Jokes aren't going away. Not bad jokes, not good jokes, because — get this — we somehow keep finding stuff to joke about. I do, and it doesn't even come naturally to me! Don't concern-troll me because I didn't laugh. Trust me, not even I laugh at all the jokes I think of but don't share. Because plenty of them suck. That's OK. I'll think of others. You will, too.

I'm now glad that, no matter what, jokes still work.

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