Generation: Self-Deprecation

Ever heard the saying, “laughter is the best medicine”? Well, take that with a pinch of salt when it comes to this topic.

Self-deprecating: belittling or undervaluing oneself; excessively modest.

Does this term pop out to you? It should. If you’re aged 15-25 you’re probably unaware how much you use this on a regular basis. Seems harmless, right? Well, there’s nothing wrong with being modest. In fact, it’s usually deemed as a great trait to have. However, I’ve come to notice how much my generation use self-deprecation – and not in a positive way.

If you’re still confused as to what self-deprecation is, let me provide a few examples with a common motif.

Example One:

Person A: “Look how fat that dog is.”

Person B: “Lmao, me as a dog.”

Example Two:

Person A: “Damn your highlight is bright af.”

Person B: “Unlike my future lmao.”

Now, if you were born before my generation this will probably seem bizarre to you and maybe not make much sense, yet it is used almost effortlessly in everyday conversation for teens nowadays. I’m guilty of having a ton of self-deprecation under my umbrella of humour – I mean, what an awesome way to put yourself down in a jokingly way but secretly mean what you said. Obtaining this mindset, I’ve come to realise how dangerous self-deprecation can be, especially because of how many teens and teen influencers (including the likes of Shane Dawson) use this humour.

A lot of the time, the jokes are about personal failure and body image, which are actually two really important barriers my generation need to overcome. I – for one – struggle heavily with body image, as do a large majority of my friends. So, when we use self-deprecation to belittle our appearance, oftentimes it’s a coping mechanism. But, how effective is it and how are people around us supposed to know if we’re secretly crying out for help?

Every day, I see a growing population of people using self-deprecation when it comes to mental health and suicide. Again, this is beyond worrying and proves how we – as teens using this humour – are setting ourselves up for a dead-end in the road. The truth is, self-deprecation is by far one of the funniest forms of humour out there right now (in my opinion, anyway) due to the fact it’s so relatable, so it is becoming tricky to pick apart the people who mean it and who are just using it for a light laugh.

The further we bury ourselves in a cesspit of self-deprecating humour, the further we move away from some of our biggest societal problems. A few years back, this would be a normal conversation:

Person A: “Ugh, bro. I’m so sick of life lol. Feel like jumping off of a bridge.”

Person B: “Dude, wtf? Is everything OK? Don’t say such things, man.”

On the other hand, this is how the conversation goes in today’s society:

Person A: “Ugh, bro. I’m so sick of life lol. Feel like jumping off of a bridge.”

Person B: “Lmao same, let’s jump together.”

To be quite honest, if this shift in conversation doesn’t worry you, then you seriously need a wake up call. Us teens use humour to sugar coat absolutely anything these days, and in all honesty, I find myself confused about whether I should be concerned about a friend using this humour. In the second conversation, not only does person B potentially ignore person A’s suicidal cry for help, but they join in! Does this then mean that both people are suicidal, or is it just their banter? It truly is getting harder and harder to differentiate between the two. The more we cover our personal issues with humour as a form of coping, the harder it is for people to notice when we really need help. Think of it like the old tale, ” The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf’ ” We can joke as much as we want and gather laughs from it, but when the time comes that we genuinely feel hopeless who will take us seriously?

Let me state that I’m speaking generally.  I’m in no way insinuating every teen would ignore a cry for help within this humour – I am simply sharing my opinion on what I see the majority do and how they respond.

I’m not quite sure how to solve this issue or turn it around, but I wanted to write this to get you thinking – not only about yourself, but your friends, too. If you actively use this humour, question why. Are you trying to hide the fact that you’re secretly struggling but you’re too afraid of being judged? So, the next time you notice a friend making one too many self-deprecating jokes… just check up on them. As we’ve deciphered in this blog, you can never really know whether a person is genuinely joking or not. It’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

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