Can we* stop stifling laughter, no matter how good it seems to feel?

The death of speech norms -- in humor-deprived times, no less -- comes faster from millions of tiny puncture wounds than from the threat of new laws

I’m stalling a little on finishing a couple of related posts that have been in the works for weeks. This is partly because the events of concern are far from over, with some still headed toward unseemly crescendos, but that alone isn’t a great reason to wait, because neither involves an anticipated endpoint anyway.

A bigger reason is trying decide how much of what I’m tempted to include can be sacrificed without derailing the overall delivery, which translates to “Can I do this without shooting up on gratuitous schadenfreude?” It’s a tough call, because I’ll always be tempted to maximally shred any glowering dumbass who leverages Internet bullying and lying for both their own profit and the wrongful punishment of others, especially when they trick a horde of deluded, throaty followers into either believing their lies or thinking the lying is justified because of historical blah-blah-whatever.

So for now, I’m going to share a completely ordinary, harmless joke I saw on Twitter (remember that part) that drew a non-negligible level of genuine ire. (You don’t have to know what a Venn diagram, a concept that’s become mildly memetic on Twitter, is to get the joke. You don’t have to think it’s a knee-slapper — I liked it, but I can appreciate it better than most.)

What you should immediately recognize is that this is not a joke being made at anyone’s real expense. One target group is folks willingly enjoying a trail run on their own and willingly (though needlessly) wearing a facial covering, and who on the whole are probably not suffering in their lives (i.e., they’re not starting and finishing their runs at homeless shelters). The other is people who can afford to spend at least twice as much as they need to on food, despite most probably getting no tangible benefit other than the ability to signal others — be it as a brag or as a warning — that they’re part of a Movement, usually on Instagram.

So at whom exactly is this joke “punching down,” I ask?

URP is correct, for what it’s worth. And I bet a lot of people who mask up for a trail run with no one in sight, then head straight to the nearest Whole Foods to buy three days’ worth of groceries for $88.19 plus tax, would happily chuckle in agreement at this. I’m not saying that every joke that’s true is necessarily funny, or that even those that are both true and funny are necessarily appropriate for all settings. But taking a poke at hypervigilance of other people is something that is always going to be funny to most of us.

What you should also recognize is that anyone who complains of something posted on social media, be it this innocuous or not, needs to fire their life coach.

Whining like this on Twitter, where at least 95 percent of jokes I see involve far more acidic or arguably needless dives into spite or outright hatred, calls to mind for me any number of typically obscene metaphors. The mini-movie I see most clearly is someone standing in the aisle at the back of low-low-end adult cinema — a darkened masturbatorium in the shape of a small movie theater, I mean — with his pants around his ankles, and, as even he begins to tug at his own sad and lonely manflesh, launches into a tirade about how slick with jizz the floor is and how all the grunting from the smattering hunched-over silhouettes he can make out in front of his is harshing his wanking mellow.

If that was a little much, the point is that if an easily offended person creates a sensible list of sites to avoid, Twitter is certainly among them. But my even greater point is that this level of hypersensitivity, while not new in itself, is being increasingly coupled to you an attitude of “You shouldn’t say [or spread] that.” This trend has been mushrooming for some time, continues to get worse, and is a greater part of the language-policing that has become de rigueur on the leftist side. And while masks are useful in some settings, when they’re not, they’re not, and to my knowledge, mask-lunacy is entirely a phenomenon of the left.

I can take some people not finding the same things funny that I do, because appearances notwithstanding, I can live in the real world just fine. I have no need to mold external reality to my emotional liking with a series of “Well, you didn’t really consider the full feelings of whatever the fuck wounded idiots might be following your account, so there.”

Anyway, I don’t know how much outdoor exercise I’ll be getting this weekend; it’s 10 °F now at 5:05 p.m., the high of the day, and it’s not supposed to get this warm again until midday Monday, with anticipated overnight lows of –2, –4 and –10 the next three nights. But I insist on running outdoors at least a little on days like these, because I feel a perhaps-perverse as well as perhaps-rational need to remain more connected to one type of runner than to another, even when my only goal out there is to continue having more running to do.