What’s So Funny?

Meryl B. Babol

When confronted with having too many problems to deal with and not being old enough to manage them, where does Gen-Z turn to? HUMOR.

It was supposed to be funny, or so Jezza thought. It all started with a funny meme she found online that made her laugh her ass off on the floor, and yet, moments after sharing the post, poor Jezza found herself attacked by anonymous people to whom he has no relation. It should have been funny; it was just a simple joke, so what went wrong?

The Great Generation Divide

Gone were the days when your dad's corny jokes, your uncle's stories from when they were younger, or your grandparents' exciting adventures were the only source of entertainment during family gatherings.

Adam Hayes, an economic sociologist and a professor in Jerusalem, Israel, defines the generation gap as the gulf that divides the ideas and behavior of individuals between two distinct generations. There may be disparities in politics, morals, popular culture, and other areas. Generation gaps have always existed, but they've become wider in the 20th and 21st centuries.

There are at least eight (8) generation names from The Lost Generation born between 1883 and 1900 up to the most recent one identified – the Generation Alpha born from 2013 to 2025.

When it comes to engagements and disparities in opinions, behaviors, and interests, there will always be arguments between those from the Boomer generation versus those from the Millennial age and from the Generation Z, most likely because, despite their birth years, they have lived on a very different spectrum of views and opinions when it comes to generalized ideas.

Boomer Humor

Professor Philip Khalid of the University of San Agustin's Philosophy Department identified himself as a member of the Boomer generation and explained how, as a teen, he viewed the older generation as the focus of comedy.

“In the ’60s, it was the time where student activism started rapping this was the point where the teacher has no longer the sole authority or the management, we have a say, we students have a say, so the humor would be targeted to the elders. There was this saying that you should not trust someone over the age of 30,” shared Prof. Khalid in an interview with The Augustinian.

The so-called "memes" that circulate on the internet have been around since the beginning; it's just that they are found in newspapers and magazines. Professor Khalid also recalled seeing amusing images in magazines such as The Playboy and Mad Magazine, which he compared to what we have now.

“First, the graphics were not as concentrated as now. Sometimes the humor now has more ‘punch’ than the one before. [Back then] it’s like I can depict a fit of inner anger; ‘Is this it?’ as a bit of exasperation,” he added.

Looking back at the boomer generation's timeline, there is a cry of exasperation because this generation has seen the darkest of days they could have imagined. This is likely due to a combination of factors, such as individuals delaying starting families during World War II and the Great Depression and optimism that the next generation will be secure and wealthy.

Now that the world has progressed, members of this generation have been described as 'close-minded' and resistant to change, especially when it comes to inclusiveness which does not favor the customs they have lived by; however, there are many who try to adjust and adapt to the new world rather than latching on to old beliefs.

Generation [wh]Y

Talking about the Millennial generation, clearly, they had their own share of humor that threads on loose strings; they’re between the dark and light generations, so they've experienced both pain and peace. Hence, it may be difficult to understand what millennials find amusing and may leave the rest of society scratching their heads.

Ms. Rachel Ormides, a high school teacher, belonging to the millennial age, explains how millennial humor is more than just being a normal comedy despite being labeled as “dark” and shocking”.

“The most morbidly interesting thing about millennial humor is that it thrives on taboos – things that most people don’t normally talk about. But this is what makes millennial humor remarkable –it allows people to dive into new depths in understanding generational anxieties, mindsets, and philosophies,” she said.

Humor is a vital part of our society that has been profoundly impacted by the rise of social media and the rise of new technologies. Interestingly enough, the internet is also a source of comedy for the millennial generation.

“Millennial humor is rampant online. Millennials have probably incorporated this into their moral fabric. You may discover this on gaming platforms and social networking sites. Many social media sites specialize in this,” she added.

Considering memes as a reflection of generational angst and a persuasive instrument helps understand today's prevalent mindsets and ideologies. The difference between millennial humor and the Gen-Z is that it reached an extent far from traditional satires.

Digital Humor

Born is the generation of social justice champions, keyboard fighters, and digital patrons who stay up until 3 a.m. because it looks like there is a competition on who stays up late and a privilege to those who curl early in bed. These are the youngsters that cover their fear with wit.

Generation Z is frequently referred to as the "tech gurus." They are likely to spend at least nine hours per day on their phones, either advocating for human and environmental rights, promoting social justice, or arguing with a random stranger who contradicts their position.

“Some older generations mocked at young people taking things too seriously or making outbursts over someone's looks, but I suppose this personality or feature of the new generation helped people adjust their attitudes, to comprehend that actions and words might hurt someone deeply,” stated Jezza Taniedo, a 2nd Year student, who identifies herself as a member of the Generation Z.

This generation's sense of humor is so high that even absurd jokes are considered funny. With satirical quips, the world's harsh reality may be relayed to a younger audience, who will laugh it off since they realize they're sinking into misery.

“The older generations typically scrutinize the current generation because their amusing statements or social media postings are taken literally. We use satire to uncover topics that require attention, but many older people take it too seriously and find it offensive when all we want is to raise concerns,” she added.

Bottomless Pit of Hopelessness

Their comedic entertainment may seem to be a series of random circumstances, but in reality, it is a coping technique for a world that is in distress with a cherry on top.

In contrast to previous generations, Gen Z's sense of humor is different. Because of the widespread availability of information on the internet, today's youth are not only more equipped to deal with the problems of the world, but also more optimistic about finding solutions.

Professor Khalid viewed the present generation’s sense of humor as having a ‘cognitive disharmony’ among the young, for they have many choices but will only cause a feud from within.

“When we make jokes now, I noticed we have to be ‘politically correct’ in our humor. We cannot make fun of races, gender, and other socio-political problems. It used to be funny, but now it’s not. Sometimes, something is supposed to be funny, but some people will not take it funny,” added Prof. Khalid.

This generation can turn the worst events into a laughing stock matter because it is where they realize there is no alternative to the problem at hand. Tired of sexist jokes, stereotypes, homophobia, and racial slurs, the only way this generation can have its escape from the gruesome society is to turn things into comedy.

"Sometimes, I use social media as a kind of self-therapy. I use it as a coping method to get through life, particularly now when there are so many new difficulties popping up on a daily basis, due largely to the pandemic,” stated Ms. Taniedo.

From the lens of a Millennial high school teacher who mostly lives her life with Generation Z, it cannot be denied that although each generation has its own style of humor, with the crisis happening in our world today, there might actually be a similar goal.

"Today's entertainment isn't what it seems. Millennials and Generation Z utilize humor to learn, explore social issues, critique the government, and express moral beliefs. While not all of this humor is groundbreaking, it helps others grasp what the millennial generation and generation Z are thinking.” she stated.

Generation Frustration

There has been a sense of discontent in every age because of boomers' humor, millennials ‘dank memes’ and gen-z’s sarcasm as a form of entertainment. Such that, generational disparities emerge because of the ever-constant transformation our world has continually undergone. Technology, together with society's shift in perceptions has shaped each generation differently. The youth depend on technology more as a lifeline for skills and commodities while those older ones continue to a more conventional manner of dealing with things.

After a few minutes of conversing with random people defending what he thinks is right, Jezza finally let go of the nonsensical argument and just murmured to herself the words with “They will never understand, never.”

Published: April 20, 2022