Only Joking

Only Joking

Humour. Sarcasm. Teasing. What do these all have in common? They all involve somebody saying something that isn’t true. Somehow I’m supposed to be able to recognize that and react appropriately (whatever that means). Okay, it’s not quite as bad as all that. Often there’s context and other indications such as sheer implausibility that pretty much give the game away. NT people appear to pick up the signs much more easily than I do – I don’t know whether there are subtleties of tone or body language that give it away because I’m pretty much oblivious to those.

My normal reaction to anything somebody says is to take it at face value unless I know that what they are saying is incorrect. Teasing and sarcasm give me the most problems because what they say might be true. I have to respond as if they are being straight. It means I get laughed at sometimes but that doesn’t bother me these days – it used to but I’ve got thicker-skinned over the years and more confident in myself. I’ve learned to make a joke of it, laugh it off, sometimes deliberately take things literally to a ridiculous extreme. That had an unexpected bonus: people started to expect me to be literal and seemed to take account of that more often when speaking to me.

What does bother me about teasing is that I find it hurtful because I believe what they are saying. Even if the person turns round later and says “I was only joking. I didn’t mean it.” the damage has been done. I trust that person less. In my mind I feel that I have to be sceptical about anything they may say to me in the future, treating them like the boy who cried “wolf”. Once I start thinking like that, something has been lost in our relationship – it is less close, less trusting. There are people with whom I start from a position of disbelief when they say anything at all to me. I’d take some convincing before I would believe them if they said the sky was blue.

2 thoughts on “Only Joking

  1. This is very insightful and makes me reconsider how I joke with my son. I take everything literally first, then have to check it against the context, but always, first thought is visual literation interpretation which can appear humorous (Like sayings for instance). When being sarcastic with my son, I was hoping to teach him that sometimes people don't say what they mean, so he is beginning to understand that not all he hears is true. Your post though, makes me reconsider the joking, teasing and sarcasm. I am going to chat with him and see how he feels about it. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Well, I can relate again, Ben. I have been "duped" more than a few times in my life. Especially if it's sarcasm and teasing. That can be very difficult for me to detect. I am much better with it with people I have known for a long time. I know their patterns better now and sometimes, I still get it wrong. They don't laugh at me, though. I did have some friends who would do this sort of thing all the time. They would make up stories, or pull a practical joke and laugh when I thought they were bring straight with me. I've even been shocked and scared because I thought something was going on that wasn't and people laughed about it. That's not cool. Never is that good to do to someone. There are so many sub-languages within our own language, I think. Body language, tone of voice language- I just wrote about that briefly on my blog today. It can really trip folks like us up. To me it can get frustrating if it's done over and over again. I just want to say: Enough already, what is the attraction? Needless to say, the "friends" I had who did this all the time are not really my friends anymore. It got too tiring and confusing. Just say it like it is. I can do joking. I have a sense of humor, but not teasing, not sarcasm, not practical jokes. I don't get those. I've tried a couple of practical jokes. very little things, but I'm really bad at it. The people guessed I'm pulling a practical joke on them, so the joke ends up being on me. Oh well. I guess I will just stick to being me.


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