A Chat About Laughing – A Social Regulator

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Bryan is an artist, father, husband, and son (not really in that order). He works for the Department of Vetern's Affairs and writes and administers The Fireside Post with his father, Ohg Rea Tone. His writings have not been published, though they have been printed a lot.

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A Chat About Laughing – A Social Regulator

My son and I chat every day – usually on line – (We live in different States).  Sometimes we cut and paste the conversations into an article, usually when it is relevant to something that is being discussed here at The Fireside Post of when it is relevant to a current event.  This one is neither, but it is interesting.  The following is a chat we had about social regulators as opposed to formal laws.

me: My former roommates were good at doing their own thing – they have a good life and people would just have to laugh at them I just don’t like it when people laugh at me, at all.

Ohg: People laughing is a social regulator

me: Doing it anyway is the root of change. Typically it is the people laughing that are in need of regulating.

Ohg: Not typically – but sometimes.

me: I disagree; people laugh at Dave Ramsey fans. I have heard a lot of scoffing about that when I tell people that we are on his plan.

Ohg: Laughing and poking fun have always served to cause a person to question themselves – that is good.

me: I used to allow myself to be influenced a lot by that laughter – and I found out who I was when I decided that they were just going to have to laugh. I say forget about the laughter, let them laugh. Some of my friends would laugh if they heard I was going to be a youth pastor. I say forget all of that that too.

Ohg: Laughing at something is not the same as sending someone to prison – it is merely noting that the behavior is culturally unusual.

me: Laughing at someone else happens when you are uncomfortable – and instead of laughing you should try to recognize why you feel uncomfortable. When people laugh at you, they don’t own their own feelings; they are just projecting their worldview on you. So, if it causes you to look at your own actions, they do it, but don’t put to much energy into the other person – they are only ignoring themselves.

Ohg: It is not just laughing – If someone is sitting in a restaurant and they are chewing and talking with their mouth full the other people around them respond with disdain – that is what I mean by social regulator – I am talking about society regulating itself without laws – just social interaction

me: So how much should I allow social regulation to impact my decisions? I don’t want to come home and have this conversation with some people about what possessed me to be a youth pastor. They will either be puzzled and laughing or they will say I told you so; when is it healthy and when does it keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Ohg: You can chew food with your mouth open.

me: I am all about people evaluating their own actions – but a big part of me says that the lady chewing her gum should just go right on chewing if it makes her happy – and the a** hole at the booth behind her needs to learn something too. Like pick a fancier restaurant – kidding.

Ohg: You wrote a post about etiquette – etiquette is simply acting in a socially acceptable way – there are no laws – so how do we regulate etiquette? By our response to others. We walk around in the world and when people point and snarl or laugh we pause and look at ourselves and ask, ‘What’s the problem?” If our pants are wet because we chose not to bother with public restrooms then we can ignore the laughs and snarls because we consciously chose to act in a certain way.

The point of snarls and laughs and pointing is to bring our behavior into question – We don’t have to change, but it is useful to at least look at ourselves. I have long gray hair in a pony tail – I can say Dick Cheney those who don’t like it, but I have to be willing to accept the consequences of not being like others – I accept those consequences for now.

me: etiquette is really about respecting other people – if you choose to grow out your hair, then you are not affecting others. If you worked as a cook, then that might be different. My friends are not hurting or affecting anyone else by dumpster diving, and the paper ran a story to educate the public about things that are different from what they know and understand. To point and laugh at my friends is to refuse to evaluate the way that you feel about it.

We use social regulators to define the ways that we interact – so as to maintain civility and respect for our fellow citizens. If your laughing and snarling is about anything other than respecting the space of others, then you are just laughing and you should evaluate yourself.

Your dirty looks at the person that is shouting on their cell phone in the library are regulators, dirty looks at the single mom in line at the grocery store using food stamps is rude, and you can keep your dirty look

Ohg: I think you understand my point; and I understand yours. We can’t have laws for everything – so we regulate with our acceptance or rejection of behaviors – the people have to choose.

me: so there are positive and negative social regulators?

Ohg: correct

me: And it is our duty to challenge each other all the time to figure out which is which.

Ohg: We don’t have to point and laugh – but we should respond when something is amiss.

me: I agree

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