Humor is an overlooked tool for creating social change

A good laugh can really change the way you look at things. PHOTO: Cotton Bro / Pexels

By: Sara Brinkac, Humor Editor

Ah humor, the beauty of a concept and a wonderful spice to life. What’s there to say about humor that hasn’t already been said? He shows intelligence (sometimeses), he diffuses tense situations (most time and it brings joy into our lives (all the time). Humor is so extraordinarily versatile in its social uses that we often forget how powerful it can be in bringing about social change. But who can blame us? Humor is a famous elusive topic and it can be hard to see how a joke about an orange can change your perception of the grocery industry.

Like the two That of the Peak humor editor and human being in general, I spent a lot of time thinking about the funny; I’ve always surrounded myself with funny people and (according to some readers) I like to think I’m funny. But despite my credentials, I’ve always had trouble figuring out what humor is exactly. What makes something originally funny? Why is this significant? What makes sense of humor?

In my reflections, I almost always come back to the social importance of humor. Mainly, how humor allows us to look at a situation from several angles. Through an organized perspective on life, humor allows us to see absurdities in our actions – as evidenced by the video works of John Wilson — or be surprised by changes in our perspective. You see tomato, I see Tom: a toe — and he’s handsome too.

The ability to look at an object in different ways is invaluable in developing understanding, and with understanding comes dedication to change. A 2017 study from American University compared the impact of traditional news-based documentaries and comedy series Standing Planet on viewers. “People learned more about global development issues by watching the traditional grim documentary, but they felt more by watching Standing Planet,said lead researcher Caty Borum Chattoo.

While it goes without saying that information and informed action are crucial for social change, so is emotional engagement. We understand that there is chaos all around us, but a monotonous presentation rarely stimulates. Humor allows us to change the narrative and speak with a more nuanced social tone than we as species resonate naturally with. It is when we are confronted with the absurdities of our actions that we begin to recognize these patterns in our daily lives and make efforts to change with a lighter heart.

A formidable mental health advocate can be found in Alex Macdonald’s quirky comics. Known on social networks media platforms As alecwithpen, his works are both deeply personal and delightfully funny – prompting us to reflect on our journeys to mental well-being. Oglafa sex-positive comic, won honors for its portrayals of LGBTQ2A+ people of different races; explicitly showing us that sex is both fun and dignified, whatever forms it may take.

The humor reminds we there is always a different way of looking at thingss, and ththere is always room to be surprised. When we begin to shed light on our situations, we begin to accept that our initial perceptionns and the (perhaps pragmatic) rules of reality are not all that remains. We can be kind to ourselves and others – heck – we can even accept that others have a beneficial outlook on life that we hadn’t previously considered. And you know how much it looks like? Empathy. One of my favorite ingredients in a stew I like to call social change.


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