What purpose does laughing serve? No, not the unfancy LOLs or ROFLs or LMAOs or the imaginary laughters we have inside our heads. No, not even the over-exaggerated emoticons and the ever-multiplying emojis. I'm talking about the real laugh. The one that we exhibit when we are actually amused and know not what else to do. Yes, THOSE kinds of bursts that seldom happen. And the fact that they are rare in nature makes them more so special. We can spend an entire day watching “funny” videos/GIFs/whatever on Internet but still, at the end of it, how much do we really laugh? Do our lungs get their surprise attacks? Does our face turn pink? Does our stomach hurt to the point that we feel that we are die of asphyxiation? Or to put it firmly, can anything make us laugh anymore? Isn't everything a meme of a meme of a meme nowadays? One joke inspires so many mutations that the exercise is very predictable. In such a humbling scenario, wonder what can tickle our funny bones—if at all we are left with any!
Let's digress a bit here.
It's often noted that India as a country doesn't support the idea of satire. We as people are fond of laughing at others but we aren't comfortable with the idea of laughing at ourselves. This cultural vulnerability creates a picture of us that isn't flattering. We are pushing 2015 and yet we don't know what to laugh at. Think about it. There can always be a higher voice telling us that we don't need to be told who to laugh at/with. Agreed. But take a moment to reflect on what we actually laugh at as a nation at the moment. We laugh at Sardars, conveniently forgetting that it's more communal than humorous. North Indians laugh at South Indians and vice versa. We laugh at politicians we ourselves elected. We laugh at our teachers and our education system even though we did little to spread education once we left the classrooms. We laugh at each other's accents despite having one of our own. We laugh at old age and we don't hesitate laughing at our poverty (both intellectual as well as economical) everyday. We basically turn into an insulated entity when it comes to matters of hilarity. I put the blame partially on those who were supposed to make us laugh. Their sense of humour, if any, barely touched the skin of enlightenment. Their jokes have usually been a folly of lameness fueled by more lameness. All one has to do to check the depravity is turn on the TV. Our news channels hinge on the most regressive of stories—with as minimum empathy as possible—thinking they are being funny. The only ones doing worse are the so-called comedy shows. If only we had someone with the calibre of Jon Stewart or Bill Maher or Stephen Colbert or Jimmy Kimmel to tell us better! After all, a nation that knows what to laugh at knows when not to laugh at.