Social Media Jokes and Serious Situations: Do They Hurt or Help?

Times like these have made it apparent that we like to use humor to discuss serious topics. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a generational, cultural, or racial trend - it's a human one. It's the way we cope with heavy topics, painful irony, and morbid scenarios. It's the way we criticize others and express our thoughts. Doctors make jokes to get them through their most difficult operations and procedures. There are a lot of benefits to making light of certain situations. However, our most recent jokes, memes, Tweets, and TikToks haven't only made light of January 6th's attack on the U.S. Capitol. They serve a much greater purpose: spreading awareness of the injustices that African Americans and people of color face, by highlighting the double standards and systemic racism in this country. The intentions of these posts are pure for the most part. The posts themselves are both entertaining and informative. But, are they helping us or, are they making the situation worse?

First, let's talk about some of those posts. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok have been flooded with them lately. Some of the posts include pictures comparing the treatment of Black Lives Matter protestors to that of the Capitol rioters. The TikTok videos do the same, except instead of pictures the creators post humorous reenactments. The tweets, no matter how funny, discuss how hard it is to get close to the Capitol, criticize officers for their lack of action (or refusal to see the threat), and call for President Trump's immediate removal. Some of the jokes read: "hmm...I wonder if they planned this," and "You can't even do this ... on GTA." We are in a very interesting time, a very revealing time. And these posts are proof of that. So, back to the question: Do they hurt or help? 

I think that these jokes do a little bit of both. They help us in the same ways that all jokes do -- they alleviate some of the stronger emotions and bring awareness to issues that need to be resolved. But they also incite harsh criticisms and aggressive behavior from the opposition. Those aggressions lead to other aggressions and once tensions reach a certain point, neither side can effectively make their case. It falls along the lines of "two wrongs don't make a right." Personally, I'm a fan of our ability to take serious situations and make well-informed jokes about them. It makes me, almost, happy to see how many people are using their voices to speak out against wrongs done to people that look like me. It gives me hope that we can change things. I think that serious situations such as this one are great opportunities to teach and learn from others. Highlighting the imperfections within our government, communities, and country is a huge task. Social media has been one of the ways that we have chosen to carry it out. But, like I said before, there are positives and negatives to using it this way. 

I think that the jokes on social media do more good than harm. Government officials are listening and so are the social media platforms. We're having more in-depth conversations than we've had in a while. Plus, some of the posts are really funny, it's mostly dark humor, but still funny. What do you think?