Monday, August 07, 2006

On Humor

Let me give you two different scenarios:

The Roast
You are the founder of a club. Some of the other members you know well, others are only acquaintances. But one day the members all decide to get together and have a "roast" for you. At the black-tie rubber-chicken dinner, a couple of members put on a skit. The skit includes jokes and gags that poke fun at your club, and one person does a dead-on impression of the guest of honor (you). Everyone in the room is ROTFL and having a great time. It's the highlight of the evening, and everyone in the club talks about it for years afterward.

The Coals
You are a girl in junior high school (that's "middle school" for you young'uns). In your history class is another girl. She seems smart -- always ready with the right answer when called upon, asks thoughtful questions. You've said hello, chatted a couple of times. She's nice and polite. One day about midyear, you're walking to lunch and you see her talking to her friends, with her back toward you. You're within earshot just as your acquaintance does a dead-on impression of one of the slower kids in your history class. The whole group erupts into laughter, and your acquaintance says, "Yeah, all the kids in that class are so ----ing stupid. They make me want to ----ing gag."

Both of the attempts at humor I've just described involve truth. After all, nothing's really funny if it doesn't ring true. But to borrow a line from Sesame Street, "one of these things is not like the other." The difference is intent. One's harmless fun, and the other is malicious gossip.

3 comments:

kelli said...

If a person lacks the depth to be truly funny sometimes all that is left for them is to be mean and call it humor. I guess if I lack humor I would rather just be boring (and perhaps I am) than have to resort to cruelty labeled as humor.

My mom always told me "It is not really a joke unless everyone is laughing". I guess some people have moms who forgot to tell them important life lessons like that. Or perhaps they just ignored their moms.

Silly Old Mom said...

That's a good quote. I'll have to remember that one.

Silly Old Mom said...

Robin,

In case you've dropped by, here's my response:

No, I didn't know CED was Adrian's wife. Now that I think about it, his name was listed on her blog, but I never made the connection between the Adrian on her home page and the Adrian at WTM.

I used to have a really good memory, but try as I might, I can't keep track of all the names on the board and their relationships to one another. I know Cheese Whiz is married to one of the gals, but I can't remember whether it's Ree or OKCyndi or someone entirely different, LOL.

I found the other site through her post about "hitting refresh all day." When I got there, the board was pretty full. Whatever ToniCW was saying about that board moving slowly sure didn't fit what I saw.

Based on the comments I had read up until I posted, I got the distinct impression that she was involved in the creation of the board. If it was all her hubby's idea, it makes more sense. But sheesh, no way would I let my dh entangle me in something like this that could so easily get out of hand. Did they really not see this coming? I hope so. We're all allowed one free brain fade per day, ya know.

And if it really is something harmless that got out of hand, then the simplest, most face-saving thing to do would be to own up to it. A little "mea culpa" would've gone a long way.

And I never thought she was a Christian. Like I said to her in her comments section, I thought she was intelligent and had a lot of helpful things to offer on the boards. I assume decency until given evidence to the contrary. Yeah, I know it's the internet and all that, but that's my default setting IRL.

I agree with you that Adrian ought to encourage off-topic discussions to be taken over to his philosophy site. That's something I've tried to do wrt religious topics since I started my blog. I don't know how many takers he'll have now that the "slacker" site is becoming common knowledge at WTM. That's part of the reason why I wrote what I did at CED's blog. That site is hindering him from accomplishing his goal, whether he realizes it or not.

My guess is that if SWB had it to do over again, she'd have split the General board into a "Homeschooling Methods" board for serious discussions and a "Teacher's Lounge" board for fun and frivolity. I enjoy the General board, with all of its faults, and I think there's a place for it, especially for people who need what it has to offer.

But let me ask you this: which is closer to SWB's vision of a hs board -- a place where the topic selection is a little too broad and shallow, or a place where the topic selection is narrowly focused on deep hostility?

I hope CED read my post in the spirit it was intended -- appealing to reason and decency. If she feels awkwardness, then I take that as a sign her conscience is functioning.

The WTM boards depend heavily on trust, and I think a lot of that has been lost through this. It's different from the JGEMom thing, precisely because some of the people involved are "one of our own." I would like things to be the way they were before all this happened. "If I could turn back time,"...I'd be Cher. LOL.