When we are with a group of people, we should make a comfortable space for everyone so that they can feel free to express themselves. Humour should be such that it doesn’t hurt anyone’s sentiments. A lot of times people forget this in a group. In college, I was a part of such groups where people would make fun of each other, pass comments on religion and other personal remarks. This is ethically inappropriate because it makes people uncomfortable in a space and they become conscious to not be a part of that space anymore.
For some people it’s easier to deal with, but for others it’s too humiliating. They don’t find it humorous anymore. It depends on each one’s level of tolerance but why does someone need to bear with it, with not being accepted as they are.
During the India Fellow induction training, we were five people who went together to a village. The purpose was to observe and understand the village. Throughout the day, we had so much fun, laughing and enjoying together. We were there for each other at all times. Our discussions were largely about gender and women rights. We took the Thappad movie as an example and everyone shared insights from it. My co-fellow, Rakshikha, has written elaborately about it in her blogpost, Conversations About Boundaries.
Local people told us that there’s a huge waterfall we must see now that we are here. We were moving ahead in search of it, on a path laid by stones. Abhishek, another co-fellow, slipped and fell in the water. At first, I thought that he’s getting into the water on purpose but later realized that wasn’t the case. He even had his phone and wallet in his pocket which he immediately took out and thankfully, no damage was done. He stayed in the waterfall for a while since he was already drenched. He asked me to click his picture from his phone but I couldn’t because the water had gone in the camera. Even then, he was making fun of the situation and laughing on himself. It was unusual for me to see that. In his place, I would have been quite upset.
Rakshikha’s slippers broke on the way to the waterfall, and she had to walk barefoot. On our way back, we found a right foot slipper lying around and she wore that to walk all the way to the village market. As we were passing by a car-wash shop, the man at the shop noticed her wearing two different slippers and said “Ma’am, aap mere chappal lelo. It feels like you are wearing an MRF on one leg and Apollo tyre on another.” But she was completely fine with it. Even though we were making fun of her, we made sure that she was comfortable with it and laughed with us.
The highlight for me, from our experience of going to the village was that even though we initially didn’t know much about each other, we could find some commonalities and worked together to create a safe space for everyone to share, celebrate our differences and make it a wonderful experience. It left me wondering if fun could be serious business.