A few days ago I received some feedback about my blog. I was sharing with my friends how excited I was that I had recently hit the 1,000 followers benchmark, and how astounded I was that that many people were reading what I had to say. (By “reading”, I mean receiving email updates and deleting them, thinking it’s spam.) As I was reveling in this small personal victory, one of my friends told me that he was no longer going to be reading my blog. When I asked him why, he told me that he thought that what I chose to write was mean, as I made fun of people I encountered in order to entertain others. I was really taken aback by this statement, as I had never once considered that I was hurting anyone by trying to make people laugh.
Although initially I was incredibly upset, I took a few days to really think about this critique. Was I a mean person? Were the things I had said too harsh? I sat down that night and read every single post I had ever written, pouring through my words to see if I had been offensive, rude, or petty. What I discovered was that I had been making fun of people. Honestly most of the entries were making fun of myself, but there were also times when I had mocked people for their choices, words, or actions as I sought laughs from other people. So if this is the case, then why am I still not convinced that I am a cruel or judgmental person?
I’ve thought about this dichotomy relentlessly. Some people believe that there is no line between humor and judgment, and others are steadfast in the belief that some things are too sensitive to be joked about. I exist somewhere between these two schools of thought, because I know that words can be extremely painful, even when meant in jest. But does that mean we tiptoe around each other, never poking fun at the ridiculousness that exists in the world? It boils down to whether or not you’d rather exist in world full of both laughter and pain, or one completely void of any emotion. Experience everything. Or experience nothing.
When I first decided to take a chance and start this blog, my dad gave me the book Forever, Erma, which is a compilation of columns written by a humorist named Erma Bombeck. She has become a role model for me, mostly because I love funny women, but also because of how she makes her seemingly ordinary life extraordinarily funny. Erma Bombeck was a newspaper columnist who wrote about her life as a suburban housewife during the 1960s to the 1990s. She wrote of her children, her neighbors, her husband, herself. She poked fun at the shortcomings of marriage, motherhood, and society in general. Does this mean she hated her husband? Wished she had never had kids? Of course not. There is an underlying tone of great love and admiration for her quirky family and the peculiar habits of people she had met throughout her life. Her writing encouraged people to stop taking themselves so seriously. To laugh at yourself and to laugh at each other.
Although my writing is nowhere near as eloquent or developed as hers, I hope that the people who truly know me (either in reality or through writing) realize that I share the same belief and outlook on life. Each person is uniquely odd, and to ignore or hide our eccentricities would be a great tragedy. My observations come from the fascination I have with how differently we all approach life, and how seemingly crazy we come across to each other. I suppose that there will always be people who think that me vocalizing this insanity is mean, but I will never stop finding comedy in people, life, or in myself. Without it, life would become far too mundane.
The truth is that I need these people in my life. I need the man standing in front of me in line at Wal-Mart wearing just a vest with no shirt underneath. I need the woman at the red light next to me plucking her eyebrows in her rearview mirror. They enrich my life, and I hope these people need me too. They need to see me wear the same pair of leggings three days in a row, or witness me running into a door frame because apparently depth perception is an issue. We are all that person, and I would never point the finger at someone else without first pointing it at myself. We all need these laughs and stories to share with each other and get us through the day. There are too many things in life where there is no humor at all, so I think we should find it where we can- in our friends, our family, and in the complete strangers we encounter each day.
Does the line get crossed? Sure. But I would much rather have crossed the line than to never have dared to get near it at all.