Humor, And The Responsibility of Blogging.

 

I know I am a good person. I know that I never wish to harm anyone. I also know that some of the stupid, immature and thoughtless comments that I’ve made in my life, the ones which I thought were hilarious, crossed the line by like three hundred and eleven miles and have cost me dearly.

I can’t tell you how many times my rebuttal began, “…but I didn’t mean to…”or “…but I didn’t think it would…”

If you’d like, I can furnish you with the names and phone numbers of a dozen friends I’ve lost who will gladly verify that fact.

I spent most of my life feeling misunderstood. It wasn’t until I began to realize that I was my own problem, and became willing and able to get out of my own selfish way, that I realized my words, the words that I thought were harmless and funny, could, and did, cut other people to their core.

Humor can be a tricky bitch. Like scent, humor has extremely offensive or captivating effects on us, depending on the kind. I have always wielded my funny stick every which way without a concern in the world who I hit with it…as long as it got laughs. Who cares if people got offended or hurt because the joke was at their expense? Toughen up people, it’s just a joke, ha-ha, see? What I began to realize a few years ago, is that irresponsible humor like that is easy, and cheap. It may be abundant, but the price is steep. Those laughs will cost you friendships. Those laughs will cost you trust. Those laughs will cost you your reputation and your dignity.

Many of us who blog suffer from the same little disorder, egomaniacs with inferiority complexes. On the outside, our egos may appear to tower over us at times, while on the inside, we only want acceptance and validation. As those things grow, so can the hungry little ego. Please, anyone who is not guilty of this on some level, feel free to throw your stones. My point is, that it is important for us to stay right sized.

Sometimes, as our writing grows up, our irreverent, inappropriate, and often immature selves fall behind in that process. This polarization of ourselves can open up a wide world of scrutiny about our true motives and intent. The internet and blogging can do that. You get attention, develop a following, a voice, it’s a fun little game in the beginning, and it is an amazing feeling to develop a core of followers. I feel that once we develop the following that we’ve worked so hard for, that we then must recognize that we have a greater responsibility to the rather large and growing audience we have created. That responsibility involves being accountable for every word that we put out there. Make no mistake, it is a much larger responsibility than many of us appreciate, and unfortunately, many of us don’t realize the repercussions of our words and opinions until they reach out and shake us by the necks, in context or not. We’ve got to walk the walk people.

Every word we send out; text, email, or social media, is fair game to anyone elses opinion or scrutiny, it is a double-edged sword. I started out all fuck this and fuck that and suck my dick…like a little kid all high on the freedom of it all. Then, eventually I tired of that, and began to evolve into real writing, finding my true voice, but our behind the scene voices haven’t evolved along with the writing, and to some, that makes our motives and intent look questionable.

That’s the name of the game in blogging. We write freely about how we feel, and in turn, we have to accept the responsibility of taking both praise and scrutiny for our words and opinions. We put ourselves under the very large microscope of the internet, and some of us must learn, often times in a very public way, that there are implications to every word that we fire out into cyber space. If we are not careful, it is easy for our intent to be misconstrued. It is up to us not to play a part in perpetuating an easily distorted appearance of oneself.

I have always had a hard time distinguishing the line in the sand, I don’t offend easily and selfishly expected the same of others. As I am learning, and have had to learn the hard way many times, is that the ruler by which I measure my own inappropriateness and sense of what is funny or offensive, is by no means even remotely close to the same as everyone else’s.

We must always be conscious of what will be left in our wake.

I began to veer away from that sort of humor a few years ago, and instead, took aim at myself, which evolved into a naturally self-deprecating style of humor. It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just transformed my (reckless and irresponsible) ability to laugh at the world from the shortcomings and mistakes of others, to focusing on those of my own.

My opinion is that the ability to laugh at oneself demonstrates health and good-naturedness. Self-deprecation is endearing. Self-deprecation is funny. Self-deprecation reminds us that we are all flawed and that nobody has it together all of the time. But self-deprecation is tricky. When being self-deprecating goes too far, it can become self-loathing and self-sabotaging, which are less amusing forms of putting yourself down. The right kind of humor is the best lubricant to smooth your way in life, pulling in opportunities and friendship. When humor highlights what we have in common, it is disarming, and makes others feel more included.  Unifying humor is healing and enables us to see the larger picture where hope is possible.

My point is, that it’s time for many of us, myself included, to continue to grow up. That does not mean sacrificing who we are, it just means that we have to slow down enough to be aware of the repercussions of our words before we put them out there. We always have to check our motives and our true intent. We have to constantly grow and learn the lessons in front of us, forgive others for their mistakes, show humility, and stand up for our beliefs and convictions when we are passionate. We must remember that we have all had our own difficult paths to walk to get here, our own shadows to overcome and skeletons to wrestle. We all make mistakes, the important part is that we are willing to learn from them.

But what the fuck do I know.

71 replies

  1. Alright Tracy, I’ll keep those posts PRIVATE” and behave…. You have great perspective on a huge topic. Now, go and be vulgar! just kidding – not.

      • “vulgarity” was sort of my catch all for everything to be leery of writing for fear of interpretation or for propriety’s sake. I do know what you mean and I have found myself to be less free with my flagrancy for not giving a fuck and thinking people should care less about what I say. I have found that without the body language and tone of voice, it’s much more dangerous here to NOT care what I say.

  2. As I read this great post of reflection Tracy, I’d come up with a comment, then you’d say what I had thought. At the end, there isn’t much more to say; you covered it quiet well! However…

    Humor and laughter is an absolute necessity in life! In that regard, one of my Laugh-Gods is Stephen Colbert. For me he has a good balance between self-deprecating humor and poignant projected humor without extremes that still maintain a level (perhaps small sometimes) of dignity toward its intended subject. Anyone who is hurt or offended by him in my opinion is too hyper-sensitive and likely (and ironically) an egomaniac about their fragile(?) feelings. Did that come off as cold? *wink* Tough skin is an excellent virtue, especially when complimented by a quick bantering appropriate and humorous wit! To me that’s a sign of maturity.

    Great post Tracy!

    • Professor!
      Hi there, and thank you for your comment. I agree with you wholeheartedly! You have to flirt with the line, without crossing it…that’s the challenge of writing humor that works without hurting.
      T

  3. I couldn’t agree more. Who hasn’t said something they thought was innocuous, and then deeply regretted it? Along with food and shelter, one of the basic requirements for human life is the space to grow and evolve.

  4. “When humor highlights what we have in common, it is disarming, and makes others feel more included. Unifying humor is healing and enables us to see the larger picture where hope is possible.”
    Beautifully said. I just finished reading two books by Stephen Leacock, who was Canada’s best-known humorist and unknown pretty much everywhere else. The first is called “Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town,” and it is just that. The second is called “Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich” and satirizes the city lives of the well-heeled. It’s amazing the difference in tone between the embracing “Sunshine” and the caustic, critical “Arcadian.” Both are funny, but only the first book truly brings you into the humour because it’s far more human and relateable and, yes, good, as in “goodness.”
    Enjoyed this.

  5. This. Perfectly this. This is part of the reason I seem so reserved or aloof when I’m around someone I don’t know. I don’t know if I can be myself around them. I don’t want to offend. I have a very special brand of humor that I know others find offensive.

    What the fuck do you know? Honestly, I think you know a hell of a lot.

    • Twindaddy,
      See, I am the total opposite. After first becoming conscious of my total irresponsibility with my words and humor, I really had to check myself for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I still do, but it becomes more effortless over time, for the simple fact that I am becoming a responsible adult for the first time in 40+ years.

      • I’m kind of a wuss, I guess when it comes to meeting new people. It takes comfort for me to be myself.

        I have watched your growth on your blog over the last year and, for what it’s worth, I’m very proud of the leaps you made. I’ve been doing my own growing up and I know I have some ways to go, but I feel proud of the steps I’ve taken.

        Stay strong, my friend.

  6. Beautifully put. My humour can be painfully sharp, like a double-edged sword so I have had to learn when to just shut the f…. up :D

  7. Scruffy,
    Don’t go getting all smooth on me!

    I’m still sort of in that self-loathing phase, but it is relatively minor as long as I remind myself what a horrible, horrible, horrible person I am . . . When I decide to throttle back my horribles (one is mainly for effect) I may experiment with good taste, reserve and these other tried and true methods.

    Still ironing out.
    Scruffy

    • Scruffy!
      I will never go soft, or flacid. No worries there.
      I always love your comments. You complete me. Like Jerry McGuire except not at all really like that.
      Iron on…
      Scruffy

  8. For years I would pray “God, watch over my mouth today”, because I would always say something inappropriate and ask myself “why do you say such things!?”. Then I found that if I would compliment people, I would be less likely of saying something asinine that I would later regret.

    Keep up the good work. You are truly a gifted and talented writer.

    • Hi Rich,
      Basically I meant that we have to walk the walk. We should learn, grow and evolve along with our writing. In my humble opinion, you’re sort of a walking contradiction if you begin writing about more serious subject matter, but don’t hold yourself accountable to the same standards you are putting out there. This goes for comments, email correspondence, social media…and our lives in general. Sometimes it is easy to talk the talk…that’s all I’m saying.
      Make sense?

  9. You are so right! Every post I write now I do a check list to myself. It’s important to know our own motives. Sometimes we need to vent, sometimes we hope to reach others with our stories and help them to overcome similar adversities. We do have to be aware that whatever our motives and whatever we put out there when we hit the publish button, is now in the public forum and subject to praise and scrutiny. Humor is very tricky because it’s relative. Great post. :)

    • That check list is important, believe me, I do not wish to sterilize my humor, not at all. I will still say fuck and I will still flirt with the line in the sand. The trick is finding a way to get your voice across without being a douchebag. Hard work. It’s much easier just to be a douchebag.

  10. You can never include everybody as somebody is always sensitive to something or other. I was much more vulgar when I started blogging, I think because I had a sense that I was writing more for and to myself. As I’ve gotten into the groove and met some other bloggers, I’ve matured I guess for lack of a better word, and try to keep from offending anybody on purpose. Somebody called me out not too long ago for using the word retarded. I think I called myself retarded, in fact. The point is that it upset a person I knew, so I won’t say it in a condescending way anymore. No harm in learning from one’s mistakes.

    • You raise a few excellent points. Yes, you’re always going to ruffle some feathers, but you learn how to tone it down without killing the funny in it. Next, the word retard. Funny you should mention that…here’s an excerpt from a post I wrote this last January:

      “I will give an example, a hot-button word: retard. If you use the word, as I have, like this, “I was happier than a retard at a water park” then I’m sorry, that shit is funny. There is no word that substitutes and still paints that picture or delivers that laugh. There is no hate or judgement behind it. But, if I said, “I was dumber than a retard in a water park” then my moral compass tells me to turn the fuck around and run back.”

      I got in trouble a few times for using that word. I know it’s a funny word, but now I think…really? Is it worth it? My job in trying to write humor is now to take up the challenge of still nailing the joke with a clean conscience. And THAT is writing real humor.

      We all learn…actually, that’s bullshit. Many of us never learn, kudos to those of us who do.

      • My last comment on this…the funny thing is, when you say retard, do you know who isn’t offended by it? Retarded people. When you say “black person” on a bus filled with whites and blacks, do you know who gets uncomfortable? White people. Lol. It’s tough, but you do a good job with it so, kudos!

  11. Well, fucking shit. Does that mean I have to post grown up comments too? No fun. :)

    Actually, I like to think I’m still funny (gag–and grown up) but I have noticed that my humor is often misunderstood now that most of it is typed. I don’t hang out in bars anymore to make crass comments so emails and blogs are my little playground. It’s not the same. Sarcasm doesn’t translate.

    • Hey Ginger!
      Believe me, I get it! I’m still all of those things, but I think there’s an art in finding a way to still be funny, preferably hilarious, without taking aim at others or taking the cheap shots. There’s always a group that I know well enough not to take offense, like a safe zone, that I can still throw the ball around with. That’s important. It’s like having Tourettes, sometimes it has to come out. Just make sure you’re with the right crowd.
      Tracy
      ps
      I’m the right crowd.

  12. This is a great post and I think most bloggers (or really people) can gain something from this. We can’t overly sensor ourselves either but we have to remain proud of everything we put out there. Whether it be on a blog, social media platform or when conversing with people. My default setting is sarcastic and self-deprecating which can absolutely have it’s downfalls.

  13. Great post, Tracy. I’d try to add more to the conversation but I’m terrible at that, so I’ll just agree you should be proud of this one.

  14. We grow, our blogs grow, and our writing grows and every piece of evidence of our growth is out in the open. Like the example you gave Don. You’ve grown and question using that word now, but someone reading the post tomorrow will be reading it as if it was now. Those are still your words, though it isn’t still you, and owning that while respecting the reaction and demonstrating change is one hell of a tightrope. Did I talk in a big enough circle yet? With almost two years of blog posts in my wake, I have a lot of words out there. I’ve defended those words regularly, and quite often my best response is “that was then, this is now.” Or “do not ever contact me again”. You know. Situationally. I don’t always do well with it.
    Growing matters. It’s what makes something lasting.

    • Melanie
      You raise a good point. “You’ve grown and question using that word now, but someone reading the post tomorrow will be reading it as if it was now. Those are still your words, though it isn’t still you, and owning that while respecting the reaction and demonstrating change is one hell of a tightrope.” That is so true, and all we can really do is do our best. It’s an evolution, and it is out there in text for all to see. I’m proud of everything I’ve written, because it’s all been part of the path to get here. Everyone fucks up, but not everyone learns from it.

  15. Turns out that you know a fucking lot.

    It is so hard to communicate sarcasm and a well-intentioned joke when people can’t see your face. I usually just throw my comments out there with a hope and a prayer that the recipient knows me well enough to take it the right way, but I have definitely gone down with that ship more than once.

    • PinotNinja,
      My god is that true. Sarcasm is hard to translate in the written word, and it NEVER comes across in a stupid text message, THAT I still have to learn the hard way, like 50 times a day.

  16. […] a writer and a human being, as a persona, I want to push my own boundaries, my humour, my thoughts (via Tracy Fulks), but I want to reflect on how I will do it without stagnating or constricting my […]

  17. Tracy I love you :) you have always been a smile to me. An outward shine that has warmed so many of us over the years. You have my greatest respect …. your strength and purpose inspire. Keep going!
    Big Hug

  18. Enlightening stuff, Tracy. I think there is a fault line that permeates our work, and it shifts as our inner landscape shifts. Coming to others with a selfish and self-centered approach brings out any crassy, brassy and pain-in-the-assy in me. To hell with those *unfunny* biddies. Off thee to a nunnery, you toads! And as much as I deflected it, a part of me kinda, sorta knew that I was pressing into something deeper than I should. I was wearing storm trooper boots at a slumber parts. Overkill.

    And that all came from insecurity. You mention a lot of your journey into coming into your realization of this…and that’s pretty damned amazing, as many of us never see it or come to it later. The question remains – did I surround myself with sour pusses, or did I once again get too personal, too hot, too quickly, too sharp? Hmmmm….

    I have worked in many corporate and unionized places (like now), so I had the “fuck”‘s and “you”‘s beat out of me long before I was blogging. I learned (in very difficult ways) that I had to watch what I say. Learn to communicate my intention, rather than stuff words down into someone’s throat. I had to be clear, concise, and keep a boundary, but at the same time, I could still be warm, light when needed and human. I am not a robot, so I will blurt out something silly or even [gasp!] innapropriate, but I have judgement and experience on my side. Sure i can stumble, but I am aware of my audience.

    And that is the same with my blogging. I purposely don’t curse on my blog (rarely) and if i do it’s for effect. I do it because I am trying to be a better writer and not default to those things. It’s not because I am so grand and wonderful (oh please no). It’s one of those things that can be hard at times, to not get back into my old ways of thinking and talking.

    And in that, I am learning to find funny in other ways. I still keep it light on my blogs – I can’t be that damned serious. It gets boring…lol.

    So I get what you say here, and it resonates. Being out there, and having an identity of sorts, of having an electronic imprint and having a human imprint in electronic form…I want to look back and see stuff that makes me smile. Not in an egotistical way, but in a way that I know I am being authentic and genuine and yet still can take the piss out of someone. Namely me.

    Awesome…thank you for sharing this :)

    Paul

  19. Oh Tracy don’t fucking change! I hate being a grown up. Your place is the only place that is ok. :)

    I was raised a good southern, christain girl. Almost no one I know uses “that” word. Ok well except my husband, at home. My son (a carpenter), a work. Ok somehow my sweet daughter and me. We have no idea how this came about and we just pray that we don’t slip in front of my niece and nephew. Can’t say my grandson because I did in the car once. Oops. I told him only responsible, mature adults can say bad words. So he can’t say them.

    • Thank you commenting and adding the link. I read your post, and like MANY others, I was and am deeply saddened by the turn of events leading up to Eric’s decision to take down A Clown On Fire. He is a good man, and I am proud to call him true friend. Thank you for what you wrote.

      • You are welcome. I am sorry Eric decided he needed to remove all trace of himself from WordPress. The great danger of always being shockingly funny is sometimes the humor ends up being quite humorless…

Your thoughts, experiences and opinions here...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s