This is a lesson the whole world needs to learn.

Especially bullies.

We have all heard the statement “Come on, can’t you take a joke?”

If you have ever said that to someone, you were being a bully.

If it was said to you, you were probably feeling hurt at the time.  Obviously you didn’t laugh out loud at whatever happened…which prompted them to ask the question.

I am upset by the fact that we don’t teach this distinction to children, or to adults for that matter.

Read this carefully, let it sink in:

JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE LAUGHING, DOESN’T MEAN EVERYONE IS HAVING A GOOD TIME.

People tend to assume that where there is laughter there is joy.  But this isn’t always true.  Some people laugh at other people’s misfortunes, missteps and humiliations.  For whatever reason, they think that mocking, annoying or otherwise “tormenting” someone falls under the classification of “bugging” or “teasing”.  They tell themselves that it is harmless.  They laugh and think it is fun.

This is “mean fun”.
Other people who happen to be present may laugh as well, and everyone will tell themselves that since there is laughter, they are having fun.  But if you look at the object of the joke and they aren’t really laughing….

…they are humiliated

…they are angry or frustrated

…they are physically injured

…or otherwise unhappy,

…then you know it was “Mean Fun”.

You need it to stop right away, reprimand the aggressor and make sure the target is okay.

This can also be considered when the target is not present – but you would assume that if they overheard the conversation, they would be hurt.  Gossip is a terrible example of “Mean Fun” because those involved think it is not hurtful since the person is not there.

It still falls under the category of “Mean Fun”, and you know it.

If you are in a situation where people are laughing at someone’s expense, look directly at the object of the “joke”.  Do they seem relaxed, as if they are enjoying the situation as much as everyone else? Are they in control of the outcome? Are you laughing “with” them instead of “at” them?  Is everyone on equal footing and being respectful?

This is “Good Fun”.

It feels good, it is shared joy.

It is us laughing at ourselves.

Once we can identify the difference, we can be honest with ourselves and hopefully eliminate “Mean Fun”.

Because Mean Fun isn’t fun at all.

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