Hypersensitivity…Where Did That Come From?

Do you remember when people could take a joke?  I know, it’s been a while.  What happened to our country?  Why and when did we become so hypersensitive?  Have you noticed our country on its edge, ready to fight, taking everything the wrong way?  What ever happened to our sense of humor?

A lot of questions.  I’m not sure I have any answers for you, but I do have an opinion.  Last week my wife and I went with some close friends to “Laugh it Off” at Rocketown, sponsored by the FISH radio station in Nashville.  It was to be a night of clean comedy.  We were actually there to see Henry Cho, one of our favorite comedians.  He’s clean and he’s very funny.  Of course, he was the headliner and was slated for last, so we prepared ourselves to “sit through” the first two comics.

The first comedian took the stage and did mostly self-degrading humor such as, “I just had my only friend ‘unfriend’ me on Facebook.  It was my roommate.  So I went upstairs and said, ‘Mom, why did you unfriend me?'”  Then the second comic took the stage and I was floored.  He was holding nothing back.  He took shots at Tennesseans who unapologetically hunt, eat the meat and then wear the skins of animals.  After getting some interaction with the crowd, he went on to make fun of home-schoolers, people with tatoos, and various other issues.  We caught ourselves laughing but feeling ashamed.  Then he dropped the bomb on us.

“Why can’t we laugh at ourselves anymore?” he asked.  That was his point.  We’ve become a hypersensitive society that can’t take a good joke.  He reminisced about the glory days of American when nearly everyone could take a joke…when we could talk openly about issues…when we could disagree…and then go on with our lives.  By the end of his set, we were laughing at ourselves…and feeling good about it.  It was healthy.  It was refreshing.  No one walked out.  No one threw water or garbage on him.  No one pulled out a gun and started shooting.  We just laughed together and had a great night.

So what happened to us, America?  We’ve gotten so deep into our political and social correctness that we have learned to walk on egg shells.  In fact, we’ve become so adept at the task, we think it’s normal to do so.  We do it in our homes, in our workplaces, and in our churches.  We carefully sort through our vocabularies, searching for the words that cannot be taken out of context, that can’t possibly hurt another human being.  By doing so, we never really say what we want to or need to say.  Yes, there are those in our society who say whatever they want, who hurt others at every turn, who could care less what anyone else thinks.  I’m not saying we need to go to that extreme.  What I am saying is take a step back, take the chip off of your shoulder, and relax.  Maybe we could get off of a few medications in the process…those we take for anxiety and depression.  I know.  I’m on them too.

Learn to laugh at yourself and give others the permission to do so too.  Then, maybe after we’ve gotten used to the sound of laughter again, we can learn to take a joke from someone else without thinking they’re out to destroy our precious psyche, without the joke “triggering us” into a passion for revenge. 

Laughter is the best medicine, and let’s face it America, we’re pretty sick right now.  Love, laugh and live.  And, by the way, if you don’t think God has a sense of humor, look at the platypus.  


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