What’s so Funny? Why Are We Laughing at the Pain of Others?

Mommy Crusader Helping Others, Personal Journey, Sunday Reflection 6 Comments

We’ve all seen the video uploads that go out of the way to poke fun at another person’s distress, emotional or physical. We’ve also seen that these videos get millions of views. More often than not, these videos leave me asking, “What’s so funny?” Why are we laughing at the pain of others?

We live in an amazing time. The technology we currently have at our fingertips can do things people never even dreamed of 40 years ago. The power of my four-year old laptop is greater than the room full of computers NASA needed to send the first astronauts to the moon.

Technology has made giving to others instant. We see the trauma others experience almost instantaneously, and can now come to their aid from half a world away. We can support, love, and “hug” those who are suffering as fast as a key stroke.

And yet . . .

Why is it that so much of this power is used to hurt our fellow travelers on this planet?

We hear about cyber bullying and the lives it steals. We see videos mocking other people in their weakest and most vulnerable moments. Moments, that if we saw them occur in person, wouldn’t leave us Rolling on the Floor Laughing, but would inspire us to reach out a hand to help. Instead, because we are separated, and yet connected, we ROFL at the anonymous person’s pain and suffering.

Or, if during polite conversation, someone expressed an opinion or belief that we disagreed with, we would politely discuss the differences in opinion – maybe even have a heated debate. But, we wouldn’t devolve into name calling because it was the idea or belief we disagreed with, not the person. Our “connection” with people is so disconnected, because of our amazing technology, that we often forget there’s a person on the other end of the comment thread – reading, feeling, crying about the cruel, mean spirited, and often hateful words being expressed. Nameless attacks are, none-the-less, still attacks. If we wouldn’t say it in person, why do we think we can say it online?

The technology we have access to is so amazing. It is powerful. I have seen families comforted when facing the most trying of circumstances. I have watched as unknown numbers of people have come to the rescue of those in dire need of support and comfort. And, this is amazing to me!

And yet . . . Unless we are very careful, this very instant way of reacting can become a two-edged sword, used to cause as much pain as it heals.

What if, instead of seeing just the words on the screen, we remember those words came from another person – living, breathing, feeling, and valuable? How would that change our interactions with those words? Would we really leave the snarky, pot-shot of a comment? Would we continue to sit in judgment and condemnation, attacking reputations and spreading rumors?

Or, would we offer the part of humanity that makes us human – love, kindness, understanding, and forgiveness to one another?


Comments 6

  1. Emma @ P is for Preschooler

    This is a powerful post. When I was younger I would watch American’s Funniest Videos with my family and could never see the humor is laughing at people failing, being publicly embarrassed, potentially even being hurt. Now, with social media, this issue is just magnified all the greater. Count me as one of those who doesn’t laugh - I’m just not seeing anything funny in someone else’s pain!

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  2. Julie

    Love this post! Hiding behind computer screens is something we still have not learnt how to deal with yet - both on the giving - and receiving end!
    “What if, instead of seeing just the words on the screen, we remember those words came from another person – living, breathing, feeling, and valuable? ” society still needs to learn this… great post!

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  3. [email protected]

    It’s so important to remember in dealing with others online that they are people, just like us. I wonder if all this judgment we get away with online actually hardens us, so that we would be harsh in person too. Once you start losing empathy, I wonder if it’s just gone, offline too. Scary to think about 🙁 Thanks for sharing this important post at the Manic Mondays blog hop!

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      Mommy Crusader

      You raise a very good point about how harshness can harden our actions even in person. It is a very scary thought and a good one to keep in mind. Thanks for continuing the conversation and for coming by to visit.

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