In response to widespread social media attention and consumer complaints, Amazon recently took action to correct the random, creepy laughter coming from it's smart assistant, Alexa. The company said it would disable the "Alexa Laugh" command, but not before it spurred fears (whether real or sarcastic) of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) takeover and a late-night mocking, courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel.
It's a reminder that, though "laughter is the best medicine," there are times in which laughter is inappropriate and perhaps even unappreciated. That doesn't mean we have to abandon the notion of funny, though.
On September 4, 2015 I posted the following joke on my Facebook page: "Did you hear the one about the angry chicken? Yeah. It was in a fowl mood."
This classic "dad joke" was my response to the myriad ways my newsfeed is constantly polluted with negative sentiment. I found myself observing countless disputes, complaints, whining, rants, insults and the like. It spanned politics, sports, culture, business and pretty much all realms. So I just wanted to show that our feeds can be a place for more harmless and value-adding notions.
The next day, I posted another joke. And another on the day after that. That process continued every weekday morning for well over two years. Everyone, I figured, should have an ability to start their day with a harmless laugh.
Though I undoubtedly did reuse some, I made an honest attempt to prompt a new daily opportunity for laughter in ways that are non-offensive to race, creed, color, gender, profession or otherwise. That meant no blonde jokes, no lawyer jokes, and certainly no suggesting a nationality or ethnicity as intellectually inferior.
The goal was one year, and I more than doubled it before recently slowing to a less grueling pace. It shows that we can indeed laugh together without it being at someone else's expense.
This experiment resulted in dozens of likes on most posts, frequent friends tagging their own friends, lots on unexpected friend requests, shares, getting tagged or forwarded countless jokes from others, and more. Interestingly, it's generally the first thing people mention to me when we cross paths in person.
And that latter point is the most important aspect of all. Laughter is truly good for the soul. It brings us together, pulls us up when we're down and breaks uneasy tension when it is most needed.
For instance, following the 911 terrorist attacks, Saturday Night Live introduced their show with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani standing along with several first responders who had been at ground zero. Show producer, Lorne Michaels, asks Giuliani, "Can we be funny?" to which, Giuliani responds, "Why start now?"
That simple - albeit self-deprecating - exchange told a waiting world that it was okay to move forward. That, despite everything we'd been experiencing as a nation, our human, God-given laughter could not be disabled. It's something I've tried to emulate during this experience, even when the occasional "groan" lands in the comments.
Some other key lessons I've gleamed:
- People love to laugh - especially when it's harmless. I would suggest that people even need to laugh as a basic fundamental of humanity.
- People fear mortality of their self and of others. If a joke even mentions death, it's bound to get fewer likes, some angry face reactions, and at least one person will comment with a "booo."
- Memories can be either curses or gifts that keep giving back. Think about it. If you fill your feed with angst, grief, and things you'd rather forget, what's going to happen in later years when Facebook starts presenting you with your memories? Instead, fill your feed with love, joy, peace and opportunities for laughter. That's probably good advice for your offline life, too. It's a true case of reaping what you sow (Galatians 6:7).
In short, it's okay to laugh. And, while it can be done without it being at the expense of others, it may be better to let words lie where they fall than to march right into battle if they hit us wrong. We people simply love having the opportunity to be offended. It's because we all believe we're entitled to the pursuit of our happiness, no matter how we define what that is. That unfortunately also means anything in the way of it is our enemy. When that's the case, we'll all inevitably take up arms against one another because achieving happiness for one may be at the expense of the happiness of the other.
Instead, let's remember we're all trying to get to our happiness and that we can get there without it being at a cost to another.
A robot laughed at you.
As author, speaker, and funny man, Ken Davis says; "lighten up, and live."
Chad Gramling is a historian, marketer and author who is "refining life, on purpose." He regularly blogs about his experiences and the ways God is leading him at 1Glories.com.
CP VOICES do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).