We all have experiences good and bad, that shape who we are today. The harder experiences are the more complex it takes to process in our brains, so to process and try and cope with these difficult times we may use humour. Now this isn’t a bad way of coping at all. In fact, it’s much healthier than the many other ways people process their trauma of experience or dealing with an illness. It’s just very important that we beware of the way we phrase things. Many teenagers on platforms such as tiktok joke about their trauma through creative content to try and cope. It’s known as ‘dark humour’. This dark humour can be used as an excuse to make jokes that border along the more serious lines. Over the many hours of scrolling, I have personally seen jokes about things such as suicide. Although funny to the person, the audience viewing them may not only be seriously concerned and worried, but also may believe that THEY need to be thinking this way. Dark humour is a way in which young people have been excused for racist and other offensive worrying jokes.
This falls into a similar category to my article referring to being self aware. Not everyone who has been through your same trauma has firstly experienced it the same, and secondly will use humour as their coping mechanism. To them, laughing about it is not funny and is more disturbing or upsetting. If humour is your way to cope, that is fine to an extent. Until it begins to become offensive to others by covering up hidden racism or homophobia, or until it relates nothing to your own life. As I said, it isn’t always a negative because it is a personal way of processing for you, it can just become distressing for those listening.
My hope is that ‘dark humour’ won’t be an excuse for every offensive joke made, and that it will no longer be used as a label at all. I hope that people will learn to joke only about their own trauma, and nobody else’s. It can embed some serious issues, and future plans of hurting oneself or others, and using it in this form can lead others to believe it is just that…a joke, a silly joke and nothing more. It can be incredibly scary if it is a joke about a topic as serious as murder or suicide, but it happens. I want that to be talked about before it is too late.
Dark humour is, in general, a subject many people overlook or maybe don’t have a term for, but recognise it’s there in their own behaviours or others. Sometimes jokes go too far, and that is okay to admit. When relating to race, religion or mental health jokes can step over the line, especially when you are with somebody you know that the joke relates to. You may not have had the intention of offending anybody, but your friend/ family member could be offended by it. Apologising and acknowledging that this could be something hard for them to hear is an incredibly mature action if you ever find yourself in that awkward situation.
I think dark humour should only be used around people who you are comfortable around, and who are familiar with you and your experiences and how you choose to cope. That way, they won’t be offended and instead will be more understanding of your preference of dealing with your issues.
It should never be excused if it is a joke about someone else’s issues, that’s bullying. If you should witnessing that, I encourage you to stand up against it. It falls under this idea of being self aware again. Being aware of your jokes and your language towards others and their personal business.
Jokes relating to religion, race, disability, weight, homophobia, suicide…or anything else personal to anybody around you, that you can’t relate to is NOT and should NOT be labelled as ‘dark humour’ for an excuse to be brutally mean to a person or group of people at all. That is discriminative. That is never okay. That is bullying.
Article by Young Reporter Grace Trippett
First published in Grimsby Telegraph 15th June 2021