I decided I haven’t had enough people getting pissed off at me on Twitter recently, so I want to offload a complaint that has been building in my head for the last year or so.
We have a plague and a scourge on our society. This scourge is inhibiting our ability to have meaningful communication and is destroying our souls slowly. This scourge is, of course, the Dad Joke.
Pretend you get called into your boss’s office. He tells you that your job has been terminated and you are to leave the building immediately.
You are blindsided. You had no idea this was coming.
You recently burned through your savings saving the family dog after it ingested a bottle of Gorilla Glue. You didn’t want your kids going to therapy in high school saying you killed the family dog, so you’ve been living paycheck to paycheck for a few months.
You don’t have another job lined up. You don’t know where you can find another one or how long you’ll be unemployed.
You’re filled with dread going home. What will your wife say? How will you feed your family? What are you going to do?
You walk into the kitchen and watch your wife. With a heavy heart, you say to her, “Honey, I lost my job today.”
Your wife puts on a goofy smile and says “Well, have you tried looking in the last place you had it?!” She nudges you with her elbow and chuckles and watches you, waiting for you to laugh.
How would this make you feel??
It fills me with a blinding rage.
I have had men make Dad Jokes in response to tweets I have put on Twitter talking about suicide attempts and PTSD flashbacks. I have asked questions for which I need answers and I get a response of a fucking Dad Joke.
This leaves me with a few ways to respond:
- I can ignore it. If I do ignore it, especially if it’s something that I need an answer for, the guy will go about his life and never actually answer the question. He’s done his duty and he will move on without actually doing what he was asked to do.
- I can swallow my rage and go back and rephrase the question to remove whatever offending word or phrase prompted the Dad Joke. This really pisses me off because the guy knows what I was asking but he’s forcing me to ask him again anyway.
- I can play dumb and pretend like I don’t understand that the guy is making a Dad Joke. Then they get sulky because I didn’t do the socially acceptable thing by indulgently chuckling and praising his cleverness.
Why Do We Have Dad Jokes Anyway?
I feel for men. I really do. Our horrible toxic culture places so many stupid limitation on men and what constitutes socially acceptable behavior. Men don’t cry. Men don’t show emotions besides anger. Men don’t wear nail polish. Men don’t wear dresses. Men don’t dance. A male kindergarten teacher must be a pervert. A male nurse wasn’t good enough to get into medical school to be a doctor. Our society sucks at teaching men how to know how they feel.
Men never really learn how to have meaningful conversations with other human beings. So we train them to respond with Dad Jokes. Dad Jokes are like line dancing. No one thinks that line dancing is cool, but we allow white people to do it because it’s the thing we all can do equally badly and we all just make a social contract to not make fun of one another when we’re trying to do it.
Dad Jokes are like hipster irony. It’s a deflection device to avoid showing that you give a shit about anything. Someone is talking about something that triggers uncomfortable emotional responses, guys feel the need to shield themselves from it because they honestly don’t know what the fuck they’re supposed to do to try and fix it.
We’ve socially agreed to tolerate Dad Jokes. We’ve all agreed to chuckle indulgently at a dude making a lame Dad Joke and give him a cookie and move on with our lives.
Sometimes Dad Jokes are acceptable. I just take issue with the fact that I feel forced socially to treat them with gentle good humor when they are actively obfuscating my ability to get something done or make a meaningful point.
When to Not Make a Dad Joke
Here are the times when you don’t make a Dad Joke:
- When someone is talking about rape/murder/cancer/anything that is a horrific life event. The person just wants to be heard. Either say nothing if you’re on Twitter or if you don’t know what to say, just say “I’m sorry that happened to you.”
- When someone is asking you for information they need to do their job. If you must make a stupid Dad Joke, then please for the love of God also answer the question rather than forcing the other person to chuckle politely and then rephrase the question.
I sincerely hope that one day we can give men more emotional freedoms to be able to express and feel emotions. I think our society will be better whenever we reach that blessed day. Until then, please do not make me feel like shit by making stupid Dad Jokes when I phrase something oddly to try and get my character count under 140 characters. Thank you.