Taking It Too Far: The Thin Line Between Funny And Disrespectful
Humor can be very tricky to maneuver. I remember as a little girl watching friends and family members make jokes about people and everyone laughing. So I would join in, excited to be a contributor to the joy, and say something that would make everyone go: “Awww… that was mean.” I couldn’t understand it at first. What was I saying that was any worse than what everyone else had already said. I didn’t realize then that though my intentions were just to add to the fun, I crossed a boundary into hurtful territory.
In life, there’s a thin line between many situations. There’s a thin line between love and hate, genius and madness, and certainly humor and disrespect. If you weren’t familiar with that thin line before, it probably illuminated itself when Lolo Jones sent that very unfortunate tweet at Rachel Jeantel’s expense. During such an emotionally charged situation people might try to bring some levity to a situation, but that tweet was just bad, on all fronts.
Twitter has become an epicenter of humor. Within 140 characters, people have been able to release clever quips that have helped paved their way to stardom (a la Kelly Oxford), or at least gain you loyal following. So sometimes twitter can take some back to the playground days of watching people joke and laugh at each and wanting to get in as well. Wanting to expose your comedic brilliance to the world, but there’s an important difference between stepping to the line, and crossing it.
For example, let’s take our Flavor of Love Season 1 Alum, Courtney Jackson, affectionally named by the chicken loving hype man, Flavor Flav, as “Goldie.” Goldie’s commentary on her season allowed her to parlay her word play into a field of stand-up comedy, and also host and provide commentary for other VH1 specials. So when Goldie was eliminated from “Charm School,” the then Dean, Mo’Nique, offered Courtney to tour and open for her show. All was well and good, until Goldie made a joke at Mo’Nique’s expense. Mo’Nique rescinded her offer, and now Goldie is…
What about the teacher who as a joke at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, took a picture giving the finger, and appearing to yell next to a sign that said: “Silence and Respect.” The teacher, Lindsey Stone, wanted to poke fun at challenging authority. (She also took a picture the night before of her smoking in front of a “No Smoking” sign.) The joke might have been taken well if it was just a random park, but it is a monument to honor not just an unknown soldier, but to honor the memory of all soldiers who have been killed in battle.
Yes, the thirst for a few laughs is indeed real, and while it might seem like you’re about to just add to the fun, you have to be knowledgable about what you’re about to say or do and how it will affect others. Some of the most respected and funny comedians will step very close to a line, but not cross it, and that’s something that people should learn. Don’t allow yourself to get swept up in the possibility of a laugh, or a few follows by hurting someone else in the process. Because doors can be shut (Goldie) and jobs can be lost (Lindsey Stone). At the end, no one wins and you just end up being the one that people are laughing at, rather than with. So think before you tweet, and joke responsibly.
This informal PSA has been brought to you by the letter ‘K,’ for Kendra Koger @kkoger.