• J Putnam

The Serial Joker

"Why so serious?"

If you've ever attempted to have a serious conversation with a peer, there's a chance that you've encountered the serial joker. You know what I'm talking about. That one guy that as soon as the conversation becomes serious, they try to inject their humor in some way or another.

You may think that it's a part of their personality, but it's more than likely a defensive response to a real problem involving social anxiety. The clown will always try to lighten the mood when things get too serious and make them uncomfortable.

This is because serious conversations have a way of making people face something inside themselves that they weren't prepared to do at that moment, and the use of humor is their attempt to avoid it. The people who struggle the most with this are those that suffer from one or more insecurities. Given the state of the majority of modern men today, it's unsurprising that this is the case.

Being forced to take a subject seriously, especially when it's something that we either have little to no experience in or worse, something we do and can recognize that we come up short, fans the flames of those insecurities. It makes us uncomfortable and our survival instincts tell us to run in order to avoid the potential pain of embarrassment.

The problem is that we aren't having enough serious conversations about the things that matter. This is because those conversations will often result in a disagreement between those involved and for the most part, people tend to be averse to conflict. This case is especially true among men who are involved in friendships that were forged under precarious circumstances.

The fear of losing a friend when we have so few to begin with, outweighs the potential benefit of having a conversation with substance. Instead, we undercut the potential value of the conversation in exchange for cheap and meaningless small talk.

This becomes a problem because it leaves the friendship cursory and each encounter nothing more than a theatrical display. This isn't to say that we should only be having deep and meaningful conversations about things. It's to say that we aren't having them at all.

We need to get better at talking to one another about things that may be controversial because those things cause us to remain isolated within ourselves. The ability to connect with another human in a meaningful way has become a lost art because it's easier to avoid the hard subjects than it is to place our feet on either side of the issue and say "This is where I stand."

Part of being a man is having the courage to act in the face of fear and the strength to deal with the consequences of said actions. But because we live in such a hedonistic society where the main goal is to only ever do what feels good, we have retreated into fear of anything that makes us feel anything other than good. It's no surprise that most teenagers and young adults have difficulty communicating anything to anyone.

The written or spoken word is an incantation. With them, we can cast spells that create images and worlds in the minds of others. Our minds are neuroplastic and can be altered with new ideas and experiences that we've never applied before, but we are robbing ourselves of this when we react to the fear of discomfort by running away from it.

This has left us with a generation made of so-called men who lack the ability to be serious about anything. There are too many opportunities to insert a euphemism here and there to elicit a laugh from someone that the temptation is overwhelming.

The war on masculinity may seem to have died down a bit over the last several months or so, but it's only slipped under the radar. The behaviors and agenda of those that oppose men being masculine have not changed, even though their tactics may have. The undermining of the role of Men in a civilized society is still very much the goal, and it's easier to do when the only men to be found are nothing but jesters.

Yes, it is important that we don't take ourselves too seriously all of the time, but we've taken that too far. Now were are at the point where almost no one takes themselves seriously enough, and there has to be a balance. It's impossible to make a difference when the things that matter remain unchanged and the agents of change cannot be bothered to change them.

If you feel seen by anything that you've read, then you're not alone. I also have been guilty of shirking serious conversations for the sake of self-preservation. The next step that we all need to take is to recognize that we can all use a little discomfort to keep us on our toes so that we do not become complacent with things as they are.

We, as men, are born into the vocation of building and sculpting the world around us and we cannot perform that duty if we aren't capable of being serious when the situation calls for it. The next time you find yourself about to insert snark or sarcasm into a discussion, ask yourself why you're doing it.

Sarcasm is passive-aggressive and being passive-aggressive is a feminine act. It's used to avoid conflict for fear of not being able to hold one's own. Learning how to be direct and talk about the things that are important is masculine. If you find yourself to be the serial joker who's always avoiding serious things, then you've got some work to do.

Not only will learning this skill help you to grow, but it will also deepen the bonds you share with your friends and peers. It will also weed out those that don't belong in your circle which is important when selecting those that you will be loyal to.

The next time you find yourself asking the question, "Why so serious?", you should answer, "Because being a man is a serious business."

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