Michael Cundall Jr.
Humor After Curve: Post-Pandemic Laughs
Once the world passes this pandemic and begins to return to a world where there are fewer personal space restrictions and heralds the dawn of "Casual PPPE," we’re going to have to learn new ways to interact. There will be a swell of new protocols to become familiar with, implement, and of course, if you’re me, make mistakes about. We’re all going to be facing novel questions about safety, about how to interact with each other. Add to that the variety of experiences that people will have had with the corona virus and we are going to have workplaces that are at high levels of tension and productive of new types of stress. Some believe that work and life will be radically altered. I am not a futurist and I am certainly not equipped to peer into whatever the “new normal” out beyond the horizon of the flattened curve will be. I suspect that many of the other prognosticators are not as accurate as they expect. What I am sure of, is that whatever the state of the world will be when we come to it, humor is going to be needed even more to help us navigate our post pandemic world.
Of course I would say this, I’m a person who has bet heavily on humor being important for all parts of life. But the research supports it. Humor helps us tolerate stress better. Not only does it make us feel that the stress or discomfort was less awful, it helps us to feel close to those around us, no matter how socially distant. While anyone may be a potential vector of disease, as they always have, more importantly they’re a vector for mirth. Sharing that joke with a friend, sending that meme along your device to theirs helps me to share that most unique of human experiences: shared humor. I’m inviting you to laugh with me, to see the humor in the world, and that’s an important.
When we make mistakes, we can try and laugh at ourselves. If I can laugh at myself, I can better correct my behavior in the future. Come down too hard on yourself and another and the consequences could be detrimental. A gentle tease may do all the work you need. If you’re a person needing to lay out the new protocols, find ways to make them funny, especially if you want them to stick. Make a presentation of the new mask safety protocols. Imagine you’re a clown teaching people how to properly don a mask. What would a clown do with masks? Find clever ways to say things that are important. Use those hilarious flight attendants that do the safety announcements on airlines as an example. But do your best, where you can, to ease tense situations. If you sow the seeds of levity, laughter will be the reward.
Be of good cheer as much as you can. The future is sure to be different in both good and bad ways. Stay alert to the weird outcomes of some of the new normal. There will be opportunities for some laughs there to be sure. There will also be situations that we can’t help but laugh about. Gripe about it with your friends, make fun if you need to. We’re all going to struggle with fogged up glasses when we lol, so make some jokes about it. There’s already a meme about it. Humor is going to be a tool we go to more and more, often without thinking about it. But if we do pay attention to how we use it, we can use it all the more effectively.