It's been a weird two weeks. Zeta hit Atlanta hard last Thursday, leaving us without power for nearly three days. Our poor neighbors, who had just moved in next door, were down for another two due to roof damage. But the thing that got me was my daughter's response at the end of day one.
During the storm, which was the worst I'd ever witnessed in the city (including Irma), she was utterly unphased —calming me when the tears began to flow, saying, "It's okay, mom. It's just a storm." She does not understand the magnitude of anxiety that lives in my soul on any given day, nor does she comprehend the likelihood that a gigantic tree could fall and hit our house at any moment. Thank goodness. What she did experience, though, came much later, and it broke my heart in a million pieces.
We were sitting on the front porch, watching neighbors scramble to clean up their yards as power wires floated in the wind. There were trees down on every corner, and power poles split in half lay in the streets next to transformers and other debris. We had spent the day walking around the neighborhood, assessing the damage, and chatting with others. When we stood up that afternoon, she began to cry and told me she didn't feel right, that she felt like she was at a friend's house and wanted to go home. "But you ARE home," I said, squeezing her, "You're safe; we are all safe."
My daughter is thirteen. She witnessed the explosion of multiple transformers simultaneously going off after a 100-year-old tree fell two houses away and took out all the power lines on our street. She also saw the damage that several other trees did on every corner, but that is not why she was crying. She was upset because everyone was coming together. Our street got hit harder than those around us, so people were flocking to catch an eyeful, walking their dogs, strolling with their little ones, and talking with each other about the catastrophic irony that no one got injured. There were also dozens of trucks and workers combing the streets to make sense of what had happened. Even for grown-ups, the aftermath was surreal, but it felt like a real community, which she had never seen before. To her, this did not feel like home. Strangely, I think the same about where the world is heading.
A few days later, one of my friends shared a quote of mine on social media. If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, then you already know what to expect, but these weren't MY followers; they were hers, and some of them left comments, accusing me of being insensitive. The quote below was a humorous take on kids who snoop, and for the record, it never actually happened. As a digital creator and humorist with an edge, sarcasm is automatic, but my jokes are never meant to cause harm. So, when the 'offended police' began attacking my character in the comments on her page, I stood my ground, praising the adoption community while defending comedy.
Even so, it upset me to think that my sense of humor was perceived as mean-spirited, so I spent most of the day feeling horrible until friends, who are also content creators, extended an olive branch. When the dust settled and composure returned, I republished an earlier quote on Instagram and Facebook, along with several other posts addressing Victim Culture.
There is a trend happening in the world that is destroying comedy, and it's not okay. I have written many times about my struggles and how using humor as a crutch kept me from the darkness of depression. Last week, my Instagram account hit its first milestone (10k followers). This week, my Facebook page hit 40k. That is 50,000 people who come to me for kindness and laughs each day, and that makes me happy.
My followers are unbelievably loyal and supportive, often messaging to thank me for my humor. The fact is that people NEED this sort of relief in their lives; we all do. Entertainment — whether it be stand-up comedy, sit-coms, movies, plays, books, articles, music, or fucking memes — is one of the most significant stress reducers available to mankind. Almost everyone I know is taking anxiety medication these days; those who aren't are wishing they were to combat the pressure and strain they face each day. Look around. The world is broken and getting worse by the minute. The way I see it, the only thing keeping us sane is laughter, and we must protect it from self-created drama.
Victim Culture is a real thing, and it's ruining comedy for everyone. If you look back at entertainment over the years, you'll notice the politically correct wave of controlled language that has taken over. It is the #1 reason I've elected to step back from freelance work and the only thing keeping me going today. While I sometimes worry that doing so will hurt my writing career, staying true to myself, defending the one thing I know people need, is far more critical. (Feel free to hit that tip jar to keep me out of the poor house. #kiddingNOTkidding.)
Last week, I re-shared a quote on Facebook that went viral — reaching MILLIONS of people — years ago. The post had already reached 30k when Facebook removed it, stating it violated their "community standards on guns, animals, and other regulated goods." This week, a man left a horrific comment on one of my posts, directed toward one of my longtime followers deceased 22-year-old daughter. I'm sorry, but this makes no sense at all. Why go after comedy, the one thing helping people heal, when there are so many real problems in the world?
My daughter has a wicked sense of humor and an enormous heart. Same as me, she laughs hard but also feels the pain of others deep down. I have raised my child to accept people as they are not for who she wants them to be. We support equality of all spectrums and respect those obstacles, but laughter is like oxygen to us, and we need it to breathe. If I'm not mistaken, so does everyone else.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for writers, comedians, content creators, and humorists to earn a living. When you control language, eradicating authenticity, you also dictate humor, and without it, we are fucked. Imagine a world without laughter. How would it feel to turn on Netflix and find NOTHING but over-edited and politically correct bullshit that fuels anxiety and promotes rage. Consider that most comedians are struggling as much as, if not more than, you. We choose to write comedy to make you smile, not to hurt anyone or open old wounds. Good luck to those who cannot laugh at themselves and all of the bad things that come their way. Life is too short to spend on self-righteous shenanigans. We must take a stand against victim culture before they take over the entertainment industry and ruin it for everyone. I promise, no one will be laughing then. If you're in agreement, help me help you by sharing this article with as many as possible.