Essay: Hashtag what’s so funny?

As I mentioned in my extra blog post on Friday, I would like to discuss humor and social media in the wake of my accident in this essay. The reason this topic came to mind is both that I’m writing something similar for my memoir and that I spoke in front of a large group of people recently and was cracking jokes left and right (and I wasn’t performing stand up 😂). It got me thinking: am I using humor differently since my accident and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)? Yes and no is the answer. I will explain (complete with photographic evidence).

I have always been someone who goes for the funny. It runs in my family. My Dad taught high school in the same school district for 39 years and was known for his puns and corny jokes (we lived in Iowa… so his jokes really were … corny 🌽😁). My Dad was the epitome of the #dadjoke before that was a thing and before there were hashtags!

Artwork designed by me. Banana jokes from: https://thoughtcatalog.com/january-nelson/2018/06/banana-puns/

Lately I’ve observed that my humor is the same as it was before the accident it’s just that I’m able to access it more readily. Before the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), I was pretty shy until I warmed up to people. Now after the TBI I don’t quite have the same restrictions on my personality and humor. I’m not shy. However, I’m not hugely different and super gregarious. I’m more child-like in how I talk to new people (by that I mean curious). I don’t really get embarrassed (I live with my parents and I’m 40 so this could just be a necessity thing instead of TBI-related.🤣 I kid. It is TBI-related). And I didn’t realize this until Thursday, but I don’t get nervous. 😬 I spoke in front of 60+ people (on Thursday) and had to use a microphone. Suddenly it was like I was eight year old me at my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary celebration. I remember being transfixed with the microphone 🎤 (at my grandparents anniversary celebration) and wanting to speak and tell a joke I had heard on “The Cosby Show” (gulp… Bill Cosby). This time grown up me wasn’t transfixed with the microphone but I took to the situation like eight year old me and didn’t get the dry mouth and shaky voice that had plagued my teen, young adult and adulthood (until the TBI at 37). This got me thinking how I’ve been using humor the past three years (yesterday was the anniversary of my accident).

Facebook

I post frequently on my personal Facebook page and have been using that to update those who have been following along on my recovery since my accident. My parents aren’t on Facebook and they moved to where I live to be with me after the accident since I can’t really handle living alone. So I’m like the email, text and social media secretary for my parents (they email and text but those who want a more reliable and immediate answer contact me 😁). And while I know a lot of people are leaving Facebook because of its various issues, I can’t quite do it yet. If the accident hadn’t happened then it wouldn’t be an issue but now Facebook is like a thread that connects me to people my everyday life has moved away from. I suppose to play devil’s advocate you could say if those people disappear from my life without Facebook it’s a sign that the connection isn’t very strong (this is an argument I have with myself frequently). But for now I’m keeping Facebook. I just basically post goofy things on there anyway. Or lots of pictures of my family. And that’s the kind of stuff I look for from my friends on Facebook.

Instagram

Before the accident I had a personal Instagram account. Now I have several. I still have the personal Instagram but now I’ve started a few extra.

Before I got my pup Selby in 2017, I started an Instagram for my sister’s dog Bella (@bellajocavalier). Then once I got Selby (actually a few days before I got her) I started an Instagram account for her: @selbysweetie. Having both the dogs on Instagram means I’m fully immersed in the #dogstagram community (it’s a thing, I didn’t make that up).

Then once I started blogging I eventually started an Instagram for my blogs: @writingbylaura and @watchingpopculture. Even though I’m no longer blogging at watchingpopculturewithmyparents.wordpress.com I still have an Instagram and Twitter for it that I update.

Twitter

Speaking of Twitter, I have been on Twitter for a while although since blogging and writing more I’ve been using it more frequently. I have my general account @wordsbylaura and an account specific to my pop culture blog @popwatching. Since the pop culture blog is no longer running (it’s archived on this site) I decided to keep the Twitter and Instagram up. I’ve especially been enjoying hashtags and the #writingcommunity hashtag on Twitter. I’ve Tweeted with some great people and gotten really good writing advice. It’s nice to know there are others like you out there (perhaps what all of social media is about) and you’re not writing in a vacuum (unless you are… in which case your writing is going to SUCK 😂😂🤦🏼‍♀️😂 #dadjoke #laurajoke)!

My Social Media Philosophy

After my TBI it seemed like people were using social media to espouse political opinions with steady frequency (more so than before in my social media circles). I live in the United States and since 2016 the political landscape has definitely changed. I have friends and connections that have similar political opinions to me and I have some that have very different opinions. I have never gone to social media for politics. Maybe if I had I would have a different opinion. Mainly my opinion and social media philosophy is that social media usually is what you put into it. What I mean by that is that if you are constantly Tweeting, Instagramming and Facebooking political content that’s usually what you’ll get back. It’s ignorant to think that if you post your political opinion that you won’t get a dissenting opinion (unless of course you’ve edited your social media pools to just have connections with like opinions and you never look at what’s happening globally). If you put negativity into social media that’s definitely what you’ll get back. If you put positivity into social media you have a higher chance of getting positivity back. Therefore if you Tweet, Instagram and Facebook out 🐶🐶 and 🌈 🌈 that’s probably what you’ll get back. The only time that philosophy doesn’t work is when you have friends or connections that have opinions about everything and think they know best. So even if you put a silly picture out there, they’ll educate you on where you went wrong in your silliness. They’re the people who can look at a picture of my dog in a costume and insinuate animal cruelty and ask me which sweatshop I bought the costume from (I haven’t had anyone say these things to me… thank goodness).

Me on Social Media Before & After the TBI

Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve always gone for the funny. Since childhood really. Here’s a graphic I made showing some pre-TBI and post-TBI silliness.

The silliness has always been there… I just use it purposefully now.

Conclusion

I would say that while I’ve always been a goof I now can access my humor more readily. I think that’s in part because I don’t have as many filters or restrictions on my personality (i.e. shyness, nervousness, embarrassment, etc.) since the brain injury and in part because I see the value in humor. It’s challenging for people to talk to someone about the misfortunes in their life but it’s far easier for them to talk about the funny: “I love your posts on your puppy, etc.” So, yes I am silly. And I know it. It’s purposeful. To make you laugh.

Writing Update: Memoir

Truthfully I haven’t written much. It’s important to please note: THIS IS JUST A SLUMP. I’M STILL WRITING (that statement was as much for me as it was for you). If anything, telling my brain injury story to a group of strangers (it was a special event at my support group) just cemented that I have a story to tell and a unique (sometimes funny) voice to tell it in. Word Count = 39,378/50,000+ #amwritingmybraininjurystory

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