A Shared Joke Can Yoke Us in Ways Not Funny

Laugh with and laugh at have different outcomes

Shared amusement brings us closer together. In effect, we are yoked by a shared joke. (free public domain: clipart-people.com)

Cartoons and jokes have been in the news a lot lately. And always will be, because we like to laugh and be amused. But often humor can bemuse instead.

For example, have you ever wondered about how the words yoke and joke look and sound so similar? The word yoke means to join together to do something together. Oxen are linked with a yoke so they can pull a load together.

The word joke means a short story told specifically to cause amusement. Its purpose is to entertain and to trigger laughter.

When we share a joke we are joined in fun. Shared amusement brings us closer together. In effect, we are yoked by a shared joke.

But that only happens when we laugh with. When we laugh at, the opposite happens. Laughing at others unites them in hurt, often against the jokers. And that yoke really isn’t very amusing.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.