My Dearest Children,
Laughter is a good medicine. There is nothing wrong with the ability to laugh and smile. Humor involves understanding how things are and how they were expected to be. For example, a joke I liked as a child was “What is in the middle of the world?” People may guess “the core” or “lava” or “earth” but the answer is “the letter R.” You may notice that many jokes are like this and play on the first instinct others may have. Humor is actually important as it can be a sign of wisdom. However, the development of your humor is important to take care of.
There are quite a few forms of humor, and some are pretty bad. Americans in my day appeared to like extreme reactions, generally in combination with insults. They probably got this from the British who use “dry humor” to also insult others, but with subtle reactions instead. Either way, insulting another is never good humor as it diminishes your love and respect for someone else. On the other hand, there is “self-depreciating humor” and this is when someone is apparently insulting himself for others entertainment. This okay for a few reasons. First, the comedian is doing it willingly and is able to maintain his dignity. Second, the respect and love for the comedian actually increases. Third, it can be a sign of humility, which is possibly why our respect would grow.
So there’s actually another reason why people may laugh or find something funny; others are laughing as well. This is why TV sitcoms use a laughtrack often. People have a tendency to laugh when others are laughing as well. This is partially how our humor is developed in the first place. If you can remember back far enough, you might recall saying the same joke over and over because maybe a family member laughed the first time, not because you understood the joke. Of course, this also means that sitcoms that use laughtracks even when people are insulting someone are partly why bullying is so profound. It is not uncommon to hear stories of a kid suddenly making an insult, sometimes not even realizing it is an insult, just because he heard it on TV and thought it was funny, most likely due to the laughtrack or others actually laughing during the scene.
I hope you now understand why your mother and I are careful about what you watch. We hope that you grow up to have good humor, not one that laughs at the expense of others. I have personally had to stop watching some comedy pieces because I realized they were insulting. I don’t want you to become a bully, but rather a hero. A hero can laugh, but only when a joke is good, not evil. If you are able to refrain from participating in bullying, and protest the action instead, then you are hero and I will be proud of you.
N. D. Moharo