Friday, August 8, 2008

"Just Kidding!"

The Russians have a saying: Within every joke there is a drop of truth. Now, I don't know if you've noticed this, but it seems that we have unwittingly developed a method of systematically removing ourselves from absolutely any socially jeopardizing statement simply by declaring the magic words, "Just kidding!" Allow me to elaborate.

I had an experience the other day where a former co-worker told me she had stopped by the office to see my boss (her former boss). I asked her why and she nonchalantly told me that she had a secret crush on him. I gave her a sideways glance and made sure I understood her correctly, "You have a secret crush on him?" Without hesitation she laughed and said, "I'm just kidding!"

Now the problem here is not that she had a crush on my boss. I had suspected that she liked him a long time ago and I didn't care. The problem is that she didn't want to be honest with her feelings. And not even because she couldn't confide in me, but because she thought that I felt her feelings were socially unacceptable.

In an episode of the Family Guy entitled, 'Mr. Saturday Knight,' father-figure Peter Griffin makes a statement that depicts what is really going one here. He says to his wife, "Since money is getting tight I was gonna suggest that we eat the kids. You know, like jokingly at first but then I was gonna gauge your reaction and then if you were cool with it we could go from there."

You've probably found yourself in a situation similar to this one-you may have even uttered those words yourself. Someone says something vulgar or brash or politically incorrect and the statement isn't received as expected. So, the individual puts on a smile and declares, "Just kidding!" I don't know about you, but I see this happen all the time.

So why do we do this? Why can't we just suck it up and take it like a man...or woman. So we said something stupid. Big deal. Trying to pass it off as a bad joke doesn't make it any better. Next time you find yourself tempted to nullify your that faux pas with the statement, "It was just a joke!" stop and ask your self the following questions: 1) Was your statement a joke? 2) Does anyone actually care about what you just said? 3) Is stating "just kidding" really going to be able to gloss over what was said?

If you answered yes to any of the following questions you are probably need to have your head checked.

Just kidding!


Michael Powers said...

I think this problem runs even deeper than you think. In my mind, it is a difference between people who are comfortable with themselves and how they live, and the fakers. I made a reference to this in a previous post. I cited the difference between those I knew from New England and those I knew in Utah. People in New England generally tell everything to your face, straight up. In Utah, and other places like it, people hide their true feelings and intentions to the detriment of themselves and others.

squirrelyearl said...

Of course Ian you mention almost the two extremes. I mean being true to one's self and to others is a good thing, but there's still something to be said for tact. But being two faced is always a bad thing that's for sure. But definitely an entertaining blog post. I mean it really is so true how people sometimes think it's okay to just say "just kidding." I mean not only is there a sense of fear in that attitude often times, but also just a lack of responsibility. That's a really sad thing about our culture nowadays, people aren't willing to accept consequences for their actions, even when it's small stupid things like comments that get them into trouble for whatever reason.