I tend to laugh at the way my face looks when I cry, the way bruises hurt when I touch them and the way I contemplate giving up after the slightest criticism. On days I’m feeling the most down in the dumps, I find ways to joke about my own insecurities or traumatic experiences, attempting to cope with the pain.

Relying on dark or self-deprecating humor to express pent up emotions, a number of millennials (not just myself) use comedy to mask how they feel. Instead of dealing with problems directly, people tend to poke fun at difficult experiences to ease any tension around the subject.

Acting as a defense mechanism, jokes have the power to distract oneself from the reality of their pain, providing temporary solace. When we laugh, we don’t have to stress over the fact that we’re hurt. Even if it’s only momentarily, humor allows us to escape our own self-pity.

Through memes or ironic statements, a number of people express negativity in a way that aims to amuse others as well as themselves. Sharing jokes on social media, teenagers seek attention from others to validate their own feelings. When we can make other people laugh, it helps to remind us that it’s okay to feel the way we do. Bonding with others who experience the same trials and tribulations, we realize we’re not the only ones going through hard times.

Additionally, transforming negative thoughts into something worth smiling about, humor makes our problems easier to think about or bring up in conversation. As devastating natural disasters wreck homes across the world and earth’s natural resources are depleted without a stable plan of replacement, people constantly face issues without solutions that ensure everyone’s safety.

Strictly viewing all problems as serious tends to take a mental toll on some people. Overwhelmed by the number of unsolved conflicts, people tend to lose hope as negativity shadows any chance at positivity. Every now and then, people need a break from constant stress.

However, that’s not to say humor is always appropriate, especially when it threatens to insult or belittle another party. Some topics such as abuse or cancer are often too sensitive to joke about. Regardless of whether one intends to inflict pain or not, it is their responsibility to be aware of the jokes they make and understand how it may affect others. The best form of comedy is when it is both well-calculated and simple.

Do you tend to make self-deprecating jokes?