Throughout Douglas’ piece, I could not help but stop and wonder about many things. The presence of jokes in religion, the way in which two people can find the same thing funny for different reasons, and even the situation in which things become funny. Although I felt as though I could relate to many of these concepts, the one question that Douglas asked that I too have been mulling over for years is “Now what is the difference between an insult and a joke” (p. 147)?
Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a girl or that I’m a youngest child, but whatever the reason I know that I have a cruel sense of humor. I like to get to know people and find something out about them that’s completely taboo to talk about. I then yell it, bring it up in small groups, and reference it at completely inappropriate times just for the laughs.
My mother hates this about me. In high school I would come home rattling off inappropriate and rude things about people and until my senior year (when I won a few senior awards) my mother didn’t actually think I had friends. She thought I was in a clique that roamed the halls putting people down and making everyone terrified to cross my path. I had to constantly explain to her that I’m not mean to people I don’t like, only to my friends. I would also remind her (as Pat has said earlier in class) I’m not mean, I’m funny.
If that’s not the most counterproductive thing ever I’m not sure what is, but it’s true. I only say extremely inappropriate things about my really close friends. The best example of this is seen in my group of friends from camp. We all share things that are sensitive to us, but then we get awkward about the vulnerability and begin trash talking. My friend Ryan is 29 and single, so we always ask him how the wife and kids are doing. My friend Chelsea doesn’t have a mom, so clearly Mother’s day cards are sent her way and whenever we see a cheesy bonding activity we suggest “Chelsea, you and your mom should do that!”
So when do these statements cross the line between joking and cruelty? Just as Turner stated, it is very natural to form groups on interest and rituals keep those groups together. I have a few different groups of friends based on the schools I went to and where I work, and all of them are based around humor. On top of being inappropriate I’m also self-centered and I can only really be friends with people if they’re funny. Clearly (based on my sense of humor) the whole “niceness” thing doesn’t go to far for me. However, what is important is that people find me funny and I can find them funny. Having this bond forms a sense of security that allows me to make those personal jabs at my friends. If I didn’t completely trust them and know how strong our group was, those comments wouldn’t be made. Since everyone is a target, everyone is safe.
So I guess if I were to form a Turner club, my mom wouldn’t make the cut. Sorry Maura! Here harsh jokes don’t just fly around for no reason—that would be insulting! But to join you must be honest and open, sharing things about yourself with people you know appreciate it and care. In response, however, there is no group hug or tears of compassion, but instead a communal give and take of quips and jabs, a ritual that, weirdly enough, keeps this group healthy and happy.