A couple of posts ago I wrote about crying and whether it is okay for high-profile athletes to do so publicly after a loss. Today, I am going to explore the opposite end of the emotional spectrum–laughter. This morning my 13-year-old son had me watch two videos on YouTube that he thought were hilarious. I didn’t know prior to watching them whether or not I’d find them amusing. I’ll admit I was leaning towards the latter, because sometimes 13-year-old boy humor is not my thing. Much to my surprise, not only did I find both of the videos funny, I actually cried with laughter while watching them.
This is probably as good a time as any to tattle on myself. I laugh sometimes when bad things happen. And sometimes, while laughing at these bad things, I make tears. I am pretty sure this can be classified as hysterical laughter. I am ashamed (though oddly proud too) to admit that while attending the University of Georgia I earned the nickname “Cold Blooded” (CB for short) because I once laughed, though I am fairly certain not hysterically, after seeing a fellow student get hit by a car. Now, before you stop reading and drop my blog from your RSS feed, let me clarify. I only laughed once and that was only after it was clear that the person who had been hit was fine. I feel certain I laugh in instances such as this as a way to release uncomfortable emotions. Similarly, I laughed through most of the movie Pulp Fiction which while definitely containing some funny moments, is by no means a comedy.
This morning’s bout of laughter was generated by videos that among other things featured people who were laughing, that is often all it takes to get me going too. All of this got me thinking, why do we laugh? From a physiological standpoint crying makes perfect sense, but laughing? What’s that about? Ever the journalism student, I decided to do some research.
I found a couple of articles on the subject of laughter but the one that I felt provided the most in-depth analysis was on Web.MD.com. The crux of the article is that humans are hardwired to laugh. According to the author, laughter predates speech by millions of years and was probably one of the earliest ways our prehistoric ancestors communicated. She goes on to point out that babies are born with the ability to laugh and that even those who are born deaf and blind have the ability to guffaw! If you find any of this even mildly interesting I suggest you click the link to read the entire article.
Are you, like me, someone who laughs when bad things happen? Or does it take something that is truly amusing to get you going?
Here’s a video (though not one of the ones that my son showed me this morning) that should at the very least illicit a smile.