"Relax, it's just a joke." | INFJ Forum

"Relax, it's just a joke."

Discussion in 'Relationships and Sociology' started by Odyne, Jan 30, 2020.

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  1. Odyne

    Odyne ===========
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    I am curious about this phenomenon where someone cracks an inappropriate joke, and then when the concerned party is unhappy about it, they are attacked for "being too serious" or "lacking a sense of humor"

    Also when the insensitive party is reprimanded for their behaviour they throw their arms up in the air and defend their "right to laugh".
    .
    I am not looking to flame anyone or troll or whatever. I am genuinely curious about the psychology behind it and how this attitude is impacting our society today.

    I am going to be dumping any articles or findings here, until I synthesize an opinion of my own. You're welcome to read, participate and comment.
     
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    #1 Odyne, Jan 30, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
  2. OP
    Odyne

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    With regards to disparagement humour:

    https://theconversation.com/amp/psy...ny-consequences-of-jokes-that-denigrate-63855


    "On the basis of these findings, one might conclude that disparagement humor targeting oppressed or disadvantaged groups is inherently destructive and thus should be censured. However, the real problem might not be with the humor itself but rather with an audience’s dismissive viewpoint that “a joke is just a joke,” even if disparaging. One study found that such a “cavalier humor belief” might indeed be responsible for some of the negative effects of disparagement humor. For prejudiced people, the belief that “a disparaging joke is just a joke” trivializes the mistreatment of historically oppressed social groups – including women, gay people, racial minorities and religious minorities – which further contributes to their prejudiced attitude."
     
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  3. J. Cardigan

    J. Cardigan Community Member

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    In my personal experience, I get the impression that some people use it as a coping mechanism for dealing with realities that they are uncomfortable with but also uncomfortable with recognizing their discomfort. Perhaps they view their discomfort as weakness. It's easier to make light of something than take action that could lead to change. I have some pretty specific scenarios in mind, though, so these aren't "one size fits all" statements.

    I mostly really just wanted to post this:
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Hostarius

    Hostarius Gimme that WOAD

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    Interesting topic, Odyne.

    I have three stories in mind when thinking about this, but I think typing them all out would overbalance the thread, so I'll just share one.

    Luckily I made a journal entry about this at the time - I have one journal I bought at the beginning of 2012 which is still only about 10% full, and what's in it are various moral lessons I've drawn from life. This one I recorded Sunday 25th March 2012, so I would've been 23 at the time.

    I was in the final year of university (undergrad) and living with people I didn't know previously because I'd been slack with finding a place to live that year. The people I was living with were all long-time friends (two girls and a gay guy), except one: let's call him Terry.

    One night I overheard Terry say to one of the girls some disparaging joke about me, so the next day I confronted him and asked what his game was. He tried to backtrack and downplay what he said, and when I said it was unacceptable in any case he went on to explain that he was upset that I'd made 'bantery' jokes about him having a crush on one of the other girls in the house some time previously.

    His crush had been exercising in the living room, and I made some cracks that insinuated that Terry was aroused and leering at her. Then Terry's comment I overheard was 'Keep an eye on Hostarius, I've left my door unlocked and he'll be wandering about'. I didn't hear any laughts, and Terry wasn't particularly well-liked, either. So after I confronted him and found out that I'd upset him it seemed like a tit-for-tat thing. We were both outsiders to the group, and both straight guys, which I think kind of upset the dynamic of that preexisting friendship group. Terry and I were quite friendly, too, and had a similar career trajectory - he planned on joining the Royal Marines and I still intended on taking my place at Sandhurst for the Army (I'd done all my selection at 17).

    In any case, what I decided at the end of that journal entry was never to engage in derogatory 'lad's banter' again, even though it was a big part of the culture at the time. I did concede, however, that if I ever saw any research which suggested that it was critical in male bonding or something like that, then I'd revisit my view. I decided that I'd rather not be a dick in future and just take the hit to how I bonded with people. Funnily enough, Terry actually said to me that while my jokes might have been alright just among other lads, they weren't appropriate in the company of 'two girls and a gay guy'.

    So the crux of this issue seems to fall between two perspectives:
    1) It's disrespectful, and therefore inadvisable.
    2) It's a necessary feature of group bonding.

    On that second point, 'banter' seems to be used to establish social hierarchies within particular kinds of group. I saw this most prominently among the P.E. department of the school where I used to teach. It was like they were constantly testing each other about who could 'take' what joke, about who had the best comebacks, &c. There were three girls and three guys, and one always used to come out at the bottom of this pecking order and I have to say that, while on the surface she celebrated it, in private (once you got to know her) she found it devastating, breaking down in tears to me about it on multiple occasions (we lived nearby so would carpool to work together). It was interesting to me seeing the difference, because I was head of history and in our faculty (Humanities), the friendship dynamics didn't really work like that at all. Whatever 'banter' there was was playful and light, and not this devastating battle of wits and thick skin the P.E. people engaged in. I've put the difference down to 'sensors' vs 'intuitives' privately before, but there's definitely a difference in how those two kinds of groups had been socialised from their childhoods.

    Now, when the 'it's just a joke' defense is used in real life, it seems to be in this social hierarchy/group bonding context, with the implication being that 'you need to have a thicker skin for our ingroup'; it's about conformity and the maintenance of social status. When it's used online, however, or in other circumstances without this dynamic in effect, I'm not sure what the anthropological 'purpose' might be, or rather, I've typed a lot and ran out of steam :sweatsmile:

    So yeah, interesting topic!
     
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  5. Wyote

    Wyote Xenoi
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    The only person I hilariously disparage is myself, and I am historically an extremely oppressed minority.
     
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  6. Reason

    Reason Mostly Peaceful

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    I'm not exaggerating in any way when I say that humor is the only thing that kept me from killing myself.
     
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  7. slant

    slant Sedated slanty

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    As a comedian I have a different perspective maybe.

    Usually when someone reacts with "relax it's just a joke" or "you're way too serious" is that it seems your reaction is disproportionate to the actual perceived threat of the joke.

    Having a sense of humor about oneself and life is a way of breaking free of tension. Laughing and crying has the same effect on the brain in terms of calming you down emotionally- "releasing" things.

    Now, some people are passive aggressive about jokes and intend to hurt you with them to boost their own self worth, or maybe to pick on you before you have the chance to pick on them.

    But mostly, especially for people like comedians who view the world as a stage, a joke is made to acknowledge a painful truth and accept it.

    My friend sent me a meme the other day about how people drive who are under 5'3 (I'm 4'11), making fun of how we have to move our seats super close to the wheel. It was a gross exaggeration and hence meant to be a playful acknowledgent of the struggles. Likewise whenever I see him smoking I tease him for getting addicted.

    This works for us, because we don't take each other's comments with malice. We have established trust and love with each other to a point that we do not doubt the other is kidding.

    Now, some people find it difficult for jokes to be made at their own expense. But I believe that is because they see it as a threat to them. Either they do not trust the person who is telling the joke, or they have unresolved insecurities that you are rubbing against when you make the comment.

    You're not really responsible for other people's feelings persay, so if someone reacts badly that's a reflection of them not you. The same with if someone makes a comment at your expense- that is a reflection of them, not you.

    It gets difficult with these situations because we often assume other's intentions and may not clarify them. So we may assume malicious intents, and that's really the worst way to approach it, because the risk calculation of if they're truly innocent intended is too high. You may ask for clarification but also understand that others don't owe you justification for their own behavior.

    It's all a matter of senation.
     
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  8. Korg

    Korg ▄ ▄

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    Yeah, this is a good thread. I don't have any answers, only similar questions to the ones already being asked.

    I'd like to know how many of these incidents are genuine misunderstandings vs deliberate inappropriateness. In a rare instance of giving humanity the benefit of the doubt, I'd wager many of them are probably misunderstandings due to misaligned temperaments, generational and regional differences, etc but I'm only speaking from my own experiences, of course.

    I mean, my friends and I break each others balls all the time, but it's sincerely meant as affection and bonding. I've tried it with gen-Z people and they recoil, almost confused and hurt as to why I would talk to them that way -- and in one case he was genuinely hurt enough to say something to me about it. I didn't want to do the whole "lighten up, it's just a joke" thing because that actually is insulting, but I also didn't want to immediately write off my behavior as objectively problematic just because one kid got his feelings hurt and said something to me about it. I chalked it up to an age and temperament difference, but it was so weird to me because the whole reason I said what I said was because I was fond of the kid and wanted him to know he was part of the group.
     
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  9. slant

    slant Sedated slanty

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    There's a good book I'm reading about this with gen z called "the coddling of the American mind".

    Pretty good.
     
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  10. Reason

    Reason Mostly Peaceful

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    If you dish it out you're going to get it back, that's the great equalizer of comedy.
    d7a.jpg

    Usually the people who want to censor comedy are just interested in insulating certain people that they like. Being a dick to someone they hate is a-okay though.

    The rub is that pretty much anyone can get offended by something and the only world where no one is offended is a dead humorless one
     
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  11. Wyote

    Wyote Xenoi
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    This will probably offend someone everyone
    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Impact Character

    Impact Character folding paper cranes ⭐

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    I suppose, when the person cracking a joke has to deal with "negatively" judged (unpleasant) emotions as a reaction to wanting to be playful and funny, he or she needs to react to the emoting person the same way as before with "relax, it is just a joke", meaning, playfully, because it is the only way how to deal with emotions if it's not one's strength in that sense.

    That doesn't mean all comedians can't deal with emotions, rather the contrary(!), but I think you see that line more often, when they are either practicing still, or if it is a defense thing where they try to work out handling emotions, miscalculating badly, and it is backfiring and making it more uncomfortable than for the person who didn't react as the funny person expected/needed it. :)
     
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  13. John K

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    Fascinating question. This is just some thinking out loud ....

    Humour has all sorts of uses. It can release tension and defuse a difficult situation, it can explain something in a flash that otherwise would take a lot of words, it entertains and warms the soul.
    It can be a vicious weapon in the hands of bullies who are using it to establish dominance socially, or it can be a way of signalling submission to a threat - so avoiding a more significant conflict. This is displaced violence using humour as display rather than verbal or physical contact.
    It can be used by small social sets as a way of differentiating their identity from other groups - the forum has it's own style for example
    It can be used by society as a whole to reinforce some of the memes (in the original Dawkins sense) that are its foundations.

    But who decides what is inappropriate - who makes the rules? These have definitely changed because when I was young the world was full of Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman jokes, or bishop and actress jokes and they weren't inappropriate then, but at least some of them are now. TV series that were though to be innocent and hilariously funny then are now thought to be unacceptable. Was there a flaw in the attitudes of society then - and if there was, who says? And what are the flaws in our modern society that we can't see now, but will be seen as inappropriate 50 years from now? Are we actually becoming better people, or are we simply replacing a genital cultural attitude with an anal one? Society is becoming much more puritanical than it was a couple of generations ago - it’s like a replay of the early Victorian era with its reaction to Regency moral laxity, and like then is over-shooting in the other direction.

    There is a constant battle going on from generation to generation over the soul of our society, and this is certainly reflected in what is considered acceptable humour - it feels almost Darwinian, the way this is played out. But I feel that picking up on the humour is really only dealing with the symptoms of underlying, competing social norms rather than connecting with the heart of these. It is certainly possible to use it as a diagnostic, though any one individual or group could well be unrepresentative.
     
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  14. John K

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  15. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    It would be essential to have access to the full articles to be able to look at the methodology used. And also, to know whether other research has found similar results.

    Until then, this conclusion should be taken with a pinch of salt. Given the tone of the abstract, I'm a bit worried the researchers weren't open to the possibility of their hypotheses turning out false, which may have led to confirmation bias, but of course this is pure speculation as long as we haven't got access to the full articles.
     
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  16. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    I think normative transgression can be a coping mechanism, whether it be social or psychological, but precisely because it is at bottom a transgression, it always has to rely on the assumption that it will be okay to do that with a given group of people. The thing is, because this is an assumption, it means one always has to take for granted other people's networks of personal values. There is an inherent 'taking others for granted-ness' in the act of making an inappropriate joke.

    Because this is the case, it seems irresponsible to me to trivialise another person's negative reaction by claiming that "it's just a joke, relax". No, that negative reaction was the risk you were taking by assuming it would be okay to make the inappropriate joke. If the risk backfires then you should own up to it, not continue to take the other person for granted.

    That being said, I don't think the only alternative is apology. Another party's negative reaction can just as equally be the occasion for an open discussion about why what was said was inappropriate. My position is invariably this: if the offended party doesn't make a moral judgement on the person making the joke but says they were upset by what was said, then I think it's usually a pretty normal and human reaction to apologise for hurting their feelings. If the offended party, on the other hand, does make a moral judgement, then I think the best reaction is openness and dialogue. Be open to the idea that what you said was morally wrong, but equally be open to the idea it was not.
     
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    #16 Ren, Jan 30, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
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  17. OP
    Odyne

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    Ren, I thought I included the link to the article. Is it not working?
     
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  18. Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    You did, but it's not free access (for me at least, it could be because of my geographical location) so I can only see the abstract.

    PS. I'm talking about the academic article presenting the research, just to be clear, not the Conversation piece.
     
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  19. OP
    Odyne

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    Ok, I will copy-pasta it for you, shortly. I think it has to do with your IP address.


    And yes, I found academic papers. I’d have to pay to read them, which I will at some point and share them on this thread. I guess I want to understand what the public opinion is before looking up what the science is saying. For now, I’m trying to stick to articles that cite their sources even if it’s an “opinion” piece.

    Thanks for pointing that out.
     
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  20. Hostarius

    Hostarius Gimme that WOAD

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    I'll have access, Odyne. Just shoot me the titles and I'll share with you.
     
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