One of the greatest fears that we have is the fear of being laughed at. Speech classes usually begin with the recognition that many people would rather die then give a speech. No one likes to be the brunt of ridicule and bullies know this. The prevalence of cruel teasing usually increases at the middle school level. The dark humor of sarcasm, mockery and ridicule are controlling tactics used by bullies to manipulate their victims.
Negative humor is often used to express frustration, hostility and anger. If one feels inferior, laughing at others becomes a way to feel superior and this heinous laughter become a weapon in the hands of stressed unhappy individuals.
Bullies are often adept at using negative humor to manipulate others. Control and power are their goals. Humor that is sarcastic, cynical, or mocking results in the recipient feeling helpless and vulnerable. So humor can become a powerful weapon of the bully, when used with the intentional purpose of wounding another person.
Bully behavior is frequently portrayed in the media as an acceptable method to express frustration, hostility, fears and anger. The use of mockery and sarcasm allows the venting of anger. Jokes abound on television, movies and the Internet with the express purpose of making fun of others. Our fears of differences have often been expressed in jokes about Italians, Jews, Mexicans, gays and religious entities. While often clever, these jokes perpetuate the bully mindset that it is OK to make fun of individuals or groups. There is research to suggest that this type of humor can eventually lead to violent behavior.
It is difficult to deal with bullying humor because these individuals often turn the tables when confronted with their negative behavior. They will say things like “Can’t you take a joke?” “I was just kidding!” This is a clever ploy intended to defend the bullying behavior and insinuate that the other person does not have a sense of humor. The fear of being accused of not having a sense of humor is close to the fear of being made fun of.
Please feel free to share ways that you have found helpful to confront the negative humor of bullies. Bullying behavior is prevalent in the news today, but I have not seen much on the negative humor as a weapon of choice by bullies. I will be sharing ideas and resources in subsequent blogs.