The Difference Between Stigma and Something That’s Funny

I was just about to post this status on Facebook:

Overheard at the day job:

“…crazy when we’re talking about the best baseball team in America.” “If it’s that team, then I must have taken my meds this morning.” “If it’s that team, then I must have taken a double dose.”

The point was not that they are not funny (which they actually are not). When I stopped to think about such a thing and asked myself why I’m offended by this, I could not fashion an answer. It’s actually not that offensive. And had these individuals the intellectual brains that I’m used to so they could actually make intelligent jokes, I probably would have (or should have) laughed.

A friend once told me that he hated activists. Any person who made it their goal to advocate for any one specific thing, because they would always be biased. Feminists would never laugh at sexist jokes. Mental health advocates wouldn’t laugh at anything like what I’ve written above. But they would laugh at everything else.

Someone on social media once accused me of not caring enough about race. I hit him back with the argument that he didn’t care enough about mental illness, and why the hell should we be judged as bad people by our passions?

I’m about to get very personal, which, I understand, is a no-no on social media, so if you’re looking for someone to judge, someone to hate, or someone to make you feel better about yourself, please go away now. This very well could be my own social media suicide, but I’m going to do it anyway.

In a comfortable setting, I make racist jokes. I also take them in. I once told another friend of mine, “the only racist in the room is the one who is offended by racial jokes.” I really do believe that, and so do a lot of people. When someone told me that they needed more white customers so they could make money, I laughed. It’s funny. Do I have money? Fuck no. Am I white? Mostly. That’s why it’s funny. Stereotypes can be funny. Please note that I’m talking about sitting around a couple beers, enjoying time with friends. I am not advocating for police officers who discriminate against individuals for the color of their skin and turn that into brute force. This stream of consciousness isn’t even about race.

It’s about everything, collectively.

As a pretty easygoing person who is not offended easily, I would like to think that I wouldn’t discriminate on subject matter. I laugh at racial jokes; I laugh at feminist jokes. I have a race and I support feminists. I should also be able to laugh at mental health jokes. I mean, I do, unless they are said on social media or by someone I don’t really know. Everyone knows that you can’t say what you really mean on social media. I don’t really know why this is. I don’t really know why we, as human beings, are not allowed to be ourselves on social media. Why there is so much pressure to be fucking perfect. I have been sent screen shots of jokes on Twitter with a caption like ohmygodwhatanasshole. I agreed, ohmygodwhatanasshole, and then I laughed, because I can do that behind a screen and no one will know. Because that Helen Keller joke was fucking funny.

I think there is a powerful difference between stigma and friendly banter where it pertains to mental illness. I, unfortunately, have not been able to find that line, even though it is painted on the asphalt in bright yellow paint. And this makes me not only sad, but it makes me feel stupid. Like, why are you acting like that? Why are you getting so offended? People that don’t know anything about the world get easily offended by things like this. People that could never last two seconds in a circle of my friends because they are either too sensitive or too stupid or both. This is not a person that I want to be. The whole thing is just ridiculous, because I was not stigmatized against at work today. These guys did not say that you take meds so you obviously love baseball (which is a ridiculous stigma, but you never know; people that are into sports are fucking crazy). They didn’t judge me because I have a mental illness. They don’t even know I have a mental illness.

I really just want everyone (myself included) to calm the fuck down.

I don’t know the answers to my own questions, but I’m schizophrenic, and I don’t even know the difference between right and wrong either. (That was a joke.)

_MG_1305Founder & Editor
Allie Burke

A Bestselling Author, NPO VP, and Psychology Today Blogger from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal.

Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales.

From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.
Visit Allie at http://wordsbyallieburke.com

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5 thoughts on “The Difference Between Stigma and Something That’s Funny”

  1. Sometimes I think we all miss the mark when we cannot laugh at jokes, when we get angry at small things instead of the really big things. I take medication every day. Every damn day. The joke, though, just wasn’t that funny. Sometimes a joke fails not because it is or isn’t politically correct (often the less politically correct, the funnier – plenty of hilarious comics who purposefully use racial stereotypes to make their audience uncomfortable and laugh), but because it simply isn’t that funny. I probably wouldn’t laugh at a joke about baseball anyway, because honestly, I don’t care. I’d shrug and walk away.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Allie, I so relate to this. I run the Depressed Cake Shop social media. I find myself really carefully considering what to posts, I am cautious not to make jokes that might offend, post content that might trigger someone. Social media is an awesome and mighty tool. We at Depressed Cake Shop are big fans. Come visit us sometime!
    facebook.com/depressedcakeshop.com or our about to be re-launched website depressedcakeshop.com or email me at Val@depressedcakeshop.com We like fellow mental health warriors
    V

    Like

  3. Just stop. Every time I read a post of yours I start thinking about things. I don’t like to think. It hurts my head. It isn’t healthy to expand your mind or try on new perspectives.

    Like

  4. What angers us most in others are things we don’t want to face about ourselves. We are offended by a joke for the same reason others find it funny – there’s some truth in it, but we don’t want to see it because it hurts. That same joke might be funny among friends because we share ourselves more intimately with friends, so those of the same race for instance can make jokes about their race that they would find offensive from an outsider.
    When something offends us we must first decide if it was meant to be offensive toward us (in which case the person is an asshole) then we need to ask ourselves why we find it offensive. What is it poking in us that ruffles our feathers? And like you said, Allie, we all need to calm the fuck down.
    Most of the time people are not trying to be offensive or upset anyone, they’re just being insensitive or not thinking. And we’re just being over-sensitive and over-reacting.

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