Is it wrong to laugh during ‘serious times’?

Laughter-Is-The-Best-Medicine

Well, it depends.

A random tweet I saw this morning:

What I have noticed on Twitter is that people are so angry that even when I make a joke, they say “this is no time for jokes,” this is a serious time. The craziest people on Earth are people who try to mold your Twitter page to their personal liking. It’s absolutely insane.

It’s not just Twitter, though.  This attitude is pervasive all across social media and in real life, too.   Of course people are jumpy, on edge, stressed out, scared, and angry.  That’s perfectly understandable in times like these.  But if you make a joke or try to make light of the gravity of our national and political situation, many people become offended.    And I’m not referring to Trump supporters here.

I understand some jokes are in poor taste.  For example, I would never make fun of the caged children at the border, or the many people suffering right now because of Trump’s cruel policies.  I would never laugh at someone’s funeral.  That’s punching down, it’s bullying, and it’s mean.  That’s the kind of thing Trump does (remember when he made fun of the disabled reporter?  Yeah, that’s punching down and punching down is never funny).

But I will certainly make fun of him, and the powerful people who work for him, and yes, at his supporters too, who I see as willfully ignorant at best, sociopathic at worst.   I will make fun of his terrible gaffes, his inappropriate behavior at televised events, his word salad, his disheveled appearance, his malignant narcissism.

And if you take offense because the situation he has put us in is “too serious for jokes,” then all I can say is maybe you need to grow a sense of humor, and maybe you’ll find out that being able to laugh at the terrible things he does makes this dark time in our history a little bit easier to bear.

I think keeping a sense of humor when things are dark and the future looks uncertain is essential to our mental and spiritual health.   The ability to laugh, even gallows humor (laughing AT the evil and making light of it, NOT at the victims of the evil) is a necessary survival tool. Those who can’t laugh in the darkness are far less resilient emotionally and spiritually, and more likely to succumb to terror, despair, or worse.

From bullshit jobs to bullshit help – a lack of basic security

I have to admit I agree with this article. Life has become too stressful for too many people, unless you’re rich.  The title may offend some, but I think it’s accurate.

Why are people being forced to adapt to a sick (and dying) system that favors only the wealthy, rather than the system itself being adapted to serve us?

Especially in America, capitalism has taken a dark turn toward fascism and even neo-feudalism (authoritarianism in either of these forms is actually a sign of end-stage capitalism — the final culmination of unregulated capitalism, with the rich not bound to the laws the rest of us are, and a dangerous lack of governmental checks and balances).  Neither form of end-stage capitalism is conducive to or compatible with human happiness or even simple contentment.

Yet we keep being told there’s something wrong with us if we can’t adapt and feel stressed out all the time.   We’re told to just smile and think positive thoughts, and everything will be hunky dory.   We spout shallow platitudes at each other and stick post-its with flowery affirmations on our bathroom mirrors.    But the stress never really goes away.

Why?  Because the truth is, the stress we feel is a normal reaction to the abnormal. Nothing about our system is normal or healthy for real human beings, and it needs to change.  All the sunny advice we are given and all the positive affirmations are nothing more than emotional Bandaids for our existential malaise.  They can’t and never will fix the underlying problem which none of us can fix as individuals, but must be addressed by the entire society working together for the common good.

A View From Askew

David Graeber has put forward the notion of bullshit jobs in recent years, and I highly recommend that you watch his interviews and lectures on the subject. However there is another bullshit trend happening…

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“George.”

Ogre

Linda Lee, who writes “A Blog About Healing from PTSD”  wrote this article about how she learned to deal with her panic attacks — and the advice is quite simple.

GET ANGRY! 

Yes, get angry.   While anger isn’t an ideal place to be, it’s a much more proactive and stronger emotion than fear.

The other day, I wrote about the panic attacks my son has been suffering from.   As his concerned mom (who used to suffer from panic attacks myself), I’ve been talking to him every day, monitoring his progress.    He’s been getting some good advice from his friends, since he hasn’t been able to see a therapist yet (but is planning to soon).

The best advice I heard of came from someone who told him to name his panic attacks.  By naming them, you effectively separate them from yourself, and they become an outside “person” instead of a part of yourself you can’t separate from.

So he decided to name them “George.”  Whenever he sees George coming, he tells him to get lost and yes, he gets angry at George.   He tells George he’s nothing but a big bully with no real power over him.  My son is much stronger than George and he tells him so.    George hasn’t gone away yet, but he’s having less power over my son than he did, and doesn’t seem quite so dangerous.