‘It Was Just a Joke Man’

There is no doubt that people from different backgrounds or upbringings will have different points of view when it comes to humor. Rather than speculate on how other cultures view humor, I would like to share my experience in a few of the circles I have been part of.

For starters, I have been active in the gaming community as long as I can remember. The gaming culture, taking place mostly online, can breed some dark and filthy humor. On the flip side, it is not uncommon to find some wholesome interactions taking place as well. This raises the concern that the possibility for offending someone with humor is high. Based on the severity, usually only soft chat bans or blocked communication from certain players the the only consequences people end up facing. I will be the first to admit that I enjoy a dark joke: in the right context. I also believe there is a line that separates dark humor from intentionally harmful/hate speech. Hearing someone spew hate speech, then proceed to laugh behind the guise of it being ‘just a joke’ helps normalize this type of behavior and ultimately harms the community.

I run into the same issue within my group of male friends. Many are from the athletic/social background. What is acceptable among ‘the guys’ would not be tolerated in most settings. I honestly believe that many people portray some fraction of their actual beliefs through their humor. For example: during a consent training focused on topics of sexual assault, I witnessed the zoom chat filled with insensitive jokes on the topic. This leads me to believe that the individuals making those ‘jokes’ don’t take the concepts being discussed seriously. The line that separates ignorance and humor is thin.

One good example of dark humor being okay(in my opinion) is in the works of Dave Chappelle. His use of race in his jokes, along with the way he presents his content is hilarious, but more importantly it is educational. I often find myself finishing up howling at one of his bits, then really thinking about the situations of racism he described. They SEEM ridiculous, but overall are very realistic. I think the use of dark humor tied with a learning experience for the audience is what makes it acceptable and good content. Not making light of the situation, but actually bringing the severity of the situation to light is what makes the humor impactful and helpful as opposed to harmful to the community.

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