Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SOLSC 18 of 31 - Why do we laugh together and cry alone?

Join me this month as I write a slice of my life each day this March and join many others sharing slices at twowritingteachers.com.  My students will also be slicing this month and you can find links to their daily blogs HERE.  

Why is it that we never laugh alone and try to never cry in a crowd? Someone laughs, and we all want to join in, drawn towards the sound like a moth to flame. Someone cries, and we look away, uncomfortable. Perhaps worried that we too would become sad or teary. The deeper emotions that cause laughter and tears seem to be closer in reality than the outside actions would suggest.

In A Stranger in a Strage Land, by Robert Heinlein, Mike says, "I've found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts...because it's the only thing that'll make it stop hurting." 

I've wondered at this many times. As I think of the jokes I've heard and told, the "funny cat videos" I've watched, and other things that have caused me to laugh, the impetus is often something that could be considered sad or even cruel. Do we laugh because deep down we're thinking, "Hey! At least it wasn't me?"

I'm going to be more observant of why I laugh, and why others laugh. Laugher is healing, it is joyful, and it is only really happens when shared with others. Is that part of why humans are social animals?


  1. We laugh around here lots of times because of silliness! It is something to ponder. Now I will be paying attention to laughter as well.

  2. It's an interesting observation. I don't usually laugh at all the things others do laugh at, & sometimes I wonder about my sense of humor. I'll start watching too, Max!

  3. Thoughtful questions, Max - sometimes when I'm watching one of those cat videos, and laughing, I do stop for a moment to wonder what exactly it is that I find so funny about poor cats leaping across sofas and missing....now I'll be watching myself.

  4. Good point. I rarely laugh alone and I HATE to cry in front of other people.

  5. You have such great insight to things Max. "The deeper emotions that cause laughter and tears seem to be closer in reality than the outside actions would suggest." This is so very true. I'm definitely a crying one and I try my best to keep it on the inside until there is no threat of being found. Interesting to think about.

  6. Laughter is an interesting phenomena. I was just talking to a student this week about a character's laughter and how it signaled fear or nerves. My family is of the black humor sort--we joke to make it through those tough times, so I connected to the line about laughing when it hurts.