Novel Uses of Comedy: A Means of Dousing Flame Wars, Online Vigilantism, and Stopping Cyberbullying

From “The Great Dictator”, c. 1940

As I have written elsewhere on this website, humor and comedy are one of best and most effective means of reducing hatred, increasing civility, and facilitating forgiveness of opponents. My last blog, the one of the Daily Kos, was banned for having a joke account and having a joke account was one of the biggest anti-bullying things I have done with Mary Catherine O’Neil satirizing the Wando High School popular class in 2010. I have been one of the few purveyors of levity in the dark battles of the internet. Without humor, the internet becomes a militant rivalry between somberness and anger. Neither emotion is healthy in large quantities and the former ultimately leads to the latter is dwelled in long enough. There is no light to cut the fog of sadness or outshine the fires of rage. Of the ideas come up with to counter the negativity of the internet, most have been to use moderators to police, to purvey content rules, and to do things like limit the editing of posts.

            That makes people more reserved in their online language but it doesn’t fundamentally change online culture in a major way except that people are afraid to speak lest they be banned. In the imaginations of the moderators and admins of the various platforms, gentleness doesn’t affect trolls. Maybe stereotypical gentles doesn’t but satire is a form of gentleness than conveys strong messages without the sting or poison that punitive policing does. Posts and comments would less be flagged for deletion and more be satirized for their absurdity. The purpose of joke accounts would be to be official satirists who would satirize the oafishness and ridiculousness of internet pettiness. Instead of a culture of fear of censorship, people would be freer facing the punishments of lighthearted ridicule rather than redaction.

            To further increase the levity and thus decrease the negativity of the internet, to make comedy and joke pages a regular and pervasive occurrence across the web. In a place where fires of rage and sadness are common to have firefighting stations on every block to rescue the air from the oxygen depletion that comes with fires. It would not only make people more lighthearted and forgiving online, it would make them that generally since they are online so often and it would regularly hit them. Most people aren’t exposed to satire on an hourly basis and if they were then the world would be a kinder and gentler place. The anger, rancor, and ugliness of society would be lessened and remedies on the whole if it were serotonin was delivered multiple times per day to people’s phones and laptops.

            In addition to the internet, this strategy could be employed in broader society to deescalate conflicts. It has been mentioned that we need conflict resolution and crisis intervention that doesn’t involve police. Psychologists and social workers are the go-to professions in polemics about the issues. Yet, comics are some of the pest prepared people to help reduce anxiety and increase affection. Mirror neurons are the most employed psychological tool by interrogators. It’s what makes emotions contagious. Comics infect people with positive neurochemicals and have the ability to reduce harm and hurt as much as psychologists can and they should be actively sought and employed in such a manner.

The internet and society would benefit from making comics and comedians intervention specialists to replace police, admins, and moderators. They are in addition to psychologists. It is a field that could partially replace the police that hasn’t been considered but would be very effective and there is psychological science to back that up. If we want less physical brutality and more love, we need more comedy much more often. The medieval medical establishment was wrong about most things but they were shockingly accurate about one thing: humans need humors to be healthy. Sure, most medieval apothecaries mixing mushrooms and herbs were worse than a naked immune system but they got the concept right. We now know humoral medicine is psychological and spiritual rather than physiological but it is just as important as anything else. It is a medical and social necessity.

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