Managing conflict with A Sense of Humour!

Does this remind you of Chandler Bing, a sarcastic, self-deprecating character in F.R.I.E.N.D.S? Countless millennials grew up watching the timeless show. The cultural impact of the show is so prominent in the young adults, If only we realise that global median age of the planet has now passed 29 years and the way the show has contributed in shaping this population is so protruding.

In the midst of a pandemic, when the world is locked down and the majority of our species are fighting for survival, the government’s are clueless and the World Health Organisation is mired in fighting the conspiracy theorist. I have sensed how people are continuously managing all their conflicts with humour and It’s funny that I now feel it’s going to be the same around dooms day!

Witness the madness; the most downloaded social media app is TikTok, the content is viral and while everyone is laughing and joking about their miseries.

The science of humour is no laughing matter,

When it comes to comedy, it’s often a thin line between love and hate. What qualities make something funny (or not) is a question that philosophers have been attempting to answer for thousands of years. But a pair of psychological scientists have come up with a theory that explains why we might laugh at a dark joke about a pandemic as well as a silly pun or play on words.

Psychological scientists Peter McGraw (University of Colorado, Boulder) and Caleb Warren (University of Arizona) propose that negativity is an intrinsic part of humour — without violating a norm or rule of some kind, a joke just isn’t funny. But violations can’t stray too far; otherwise, they become unappealing or even disgusting and upsetting. According to the researchers’ Benign Violation Theory, a violation is humorous when it breaks a rule or norm but is benign.

McGraw and Warren’s Humour Research Lab (HuRL) has conducted several studies examining the exact criteria that cause us to perceive a comedic situation as benign or not. Along with the severity of the norm violation, a sense of psychological distance from the violation — by space, time, relationships, or imagination — is a key ingredient for turning an unpleasant situation into a humorous one, they posit.

For example, in a study published in Psychological Science, the researchers looked at the effect of psychological distance in terms of time. Inspired by the classic Mark Twain quote,

“Humour is tragedy plus time,”

the research team investigated how the passage of time can influence one’s perception of an event as funny or painful. “If distance increases the humour in severe violations (i.e., tragedies), but decreases the humour in mild violations (i.e., mishaps), then autobiographical events that get funnier over time should feature more severe violations than those that get less funny over time,” the researchers write.

Here we are in the midst of a pandemic, COVID 19 is killing people in thousands every day, Social distancing is in effect and yet somehow we have managed to acquire the psychological distance. Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticising the ones creating the jokes, In-fact I applaud them because humour is giving the very essential energising effect and humour can help facilitate recovery from stressful situations, even prolonging people’s tolerance for physical and emotional pain. In the age of Social Media -Tiktok at the very least has got the message out that we are all in this together!

My only advice is to use humour in the righteous way, not be insensitive and make light of a situation that really isn’t consider the following.

  1. Humour should be equally fun and enjoyable for everyone involved. If others don’t think you joking or teasing is funny—stop immediately. Before you start playing around, take a moment to consider your motives, (Is your true intent to communicate positive feelings—or are you taking a dig, expressing anger, or laughing at the other person’s misery). Also be sensitive the other person’s state of mind and sense of humour.
  2. Humour helps you stay resilient in the face of life’s challenges. But there are times when humour is not healthy—and that’s when it is used as a cover for avoiding, rather than coping with, painful emotions. Laughter can be a disguise for feelings of hurt, fear, anger, and disappointment that you don’t want to feel or don’t know how to express. You can be funny about the truth, but covering up the truth or lying isn’t funny. When you use humour and playfulness as a cover for other emotions, you create confusion and mistrust

Remember, if you’re able to keep your thoughts clean, you keep your character clean!

I end with a confession that I miss the days when I sneezed & people would end with a polite bless you, Now it’s very different.