Humor during a crisis - Deepstash

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Why We Laugh at the Pandemic

Humor during a crisis

For ancient Greek philosophers, humor was something that had the potential to undermine authority and the good order.

Today, in democratic societies, those in power are mocked and their power undermined, as in Saturday Night Live in the United States, and Have I Got News for You in Britain.

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Humor at work
Humor at work

Being funny can have both positive and negative consequences, in your personal as well as your professional life. And context is always important: when making a joke, for instance, you should definitely make sure the moment is appropriate for such a behavior.

Making the good jokes at the proper moment can help you become everybody's favorite at the workplace. However, making a bad joke can lead even to being fired: so make sure to choose your attitude appropriately.

Humor and its effects on the status

Humor and status have always been tightly linked: good leaders seem to often use humor in order to motivate their team members' actions. As individuals, we tend to prefer, researchers claim, jokes that make us laugh while feeling slightly uncomfortable.

Furthermore, we perceive the joke teller as a self-confident person, who could easily become a leader due to his or her courage to make such a joke. The key point here is that the joke should be appropriate and match the context.

Inside jokes

Making inside jokes usually shows how bounded a team or a group is: their jokes can understood the best by themselves.

However, the moment an outsider integrates the group, it is better to avoid the inside jokes, as this will most probably make him or her feel out of place.

Humour in philosophy
Humour in philosophy
  • Henri Bergson, a Fresh philosopher of the late 19th century, was also an author of a famous essay that focused on laughter. Before Bergson, few philosophers had given laughter much thought.
  • Other major thinkers who have offered humourless reflections about humour include Thomas Hobbes and René Descartes, who believed we laugh because we feel superior.
  • Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer argued that comedy stems from a sense of incongruity.
  • Herbert Spencer and Sigmund Freud suggested comedians give relief from nervous energy and repressed emotions.
Humour and respect

Everyone who ever had to explain their own joke knows that comedy cannot survive analysis. Once you take humour apart, it loses its effect and dies in the process.

Henri Bergson published his essay on laughter in 1900. He believed that laughter should be studied as 'a living thing' and treated with 'the respect due to life.'

Conditions for laughter to thrive

Henri Bergson's general observations related to when laughter is most likely to appear and thrive:

  • The comic is strictly human. When laughter is directed at non-humans, we may laugh, but only because we have detected some human attitude or expression.
  • Laughter has no greater foe than emotion. Emotional states like pity, melancholy, rage, etc. make it difficult for us to find humour in the things we might otherwise have laughed at. But humour also appears to serve as a coping mechanism in the face of tragedy or misfortune.
  • Laughter seems to require an echo. It is used in the context of social bonding.
The obsession with toilet paper
The obsession with toilet paper

While fighting the new virus, people seem to have got obsessed with toilet paper. However, hoarding toilet paper is nothing new. In 1973 and in 2013 the USA and Venezuela had already gone through similar situations, due to rumors spreading and a drop in production.

People's need to hoard toilet paper

Even though the US has been mass-producing toilet paper since the late 1800s, people still seem to have an issue with this very product and, therefore, buy it in huge quantities, especially during pandemic times.

This is known as 'zero risk bias' by risk experts and it describes a person's behavior when trying to eliminate a superficial risk entirely rather than just reducing a big risk, everything in order to feel safer.

Successfully dealing with shortages

While we are all facing the biggest challenge of our life, the 2020 pandemic, our behaviors are slowly starting to change. For instance, hoarding toilet paper is not something common, at least not in modern societies. Still, it is happening worldwide these days.

Among the most efficient ways to handle shortages of any kind, shops could introduce rationing certain products or even individuals could try and convince each other that there is no real need to hoard staff, such as toilet paper, as we are not talking about unlimited resources here.