Natalie thought herself to be a serious person. She was disciplined, professional, and committed to her words. She was always trying to do the right thing or in other words she was a good girl whose example was given by her family. She hardly laughed from her heart and believed that her brain was hardwired for seriousness.

However, over time, she learned that she was too sincere and tough on herself. She didn’t know how to enjoy life. She decided to make conscious effort to loosen up and find reasons to smile and laugh. She gradually realized that laughter didn’t require much effort; all she had to do was laugh.

“Don’t get me wrong, I can’t just burst into laughter without reason. But I’ve understood that it doesn’t take much to find happiness,” Natalie shared with me.

There were many reasons to find happiness in her life. She decided to stay happy and gradually she started receiving compliments on always seen with a happy face. Her next goal was to spread happiness to others and make them laugh. She wasn’t natural. She had to learn the skill. Sometimes, she succeeded, while other times her jokes fell flat. She began observing others to figure out what was acceptable and what wasn’t. She soon realized that some people crossed the line in the name of humor and hurt feelings of others. The worst part they didn’t know that they offended others.


Humor is a subjective and culturally dependent form of expression. What one person finds amusing, another might find offensive or hurtful. When humor crosses the line, it usually means it has become inappropriate, offensive, or harmful in some way. Here are some common scenarios where humor is considered to cross the line:

  1. Offensive or Insensitive Jokes: Humor that targets a person’s race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or other personal characteristics in a derogatory or hurtful way is generally considered offensive. It’s crucial to be sensitive to the experiences and feelings of others.

  1. Harmful Stereotypes: Stereotyping certain groups of people can perpetuate biases and discrimination. Jokes based on harmful stereotypes can be offensive and harmful.

  1. Bullying and Harassment: Humor that singles out individuals for ridicule or humiliation is unacceptable. Bullying or harassment should never be justified as “just a joke.” It hits hard when put under the bracket of “oh, he can’t even take a joke.”

  1. Mocking Serious Issues: Making light of serious and sensitive subjects like mental health, trauma, or tragic events can be hurtful. Such humor can trivialize the experiences of those who have gone through these challenges.

  1. Inappropriate Timing: Making jokes in contexts where they are inappropriate, such as during a serious discussion or at a solemn event, can be considered crossing the line.

  1. Non-Consensual Humor: If someone doesn’t find a joke or comment funny and asks you to stop, continuing to make the same joke can be disrespectful and cross the line.

  1. Cultural Insensitivity: Jokes that disrespect or misrepresent other cultures or religions can be offensive. It’s important to be mindful of cultural differences and avoid perpetuating stereotypes.

  1. Privacy Invasion: Humor that invades someone’s personal privacy, such as sharing private or embarrassing information without their consent, is unacceptable.

It’s crucial to consider the impact of your humor on others and be sensitive to their feelings and perspectives. What may seem harmless to one person can be deeply hurtful to another. Additionally, context matters; what is appropriate among close friends may not be acceptable in a professional setting. It’s a good practice to exercise empathy and consider the potential consequences of your humor before making a joke or comment. When in doubt, stay silent.  

Choosing humor that is inclusive and respectful is the safest place to land on. Natalie realized early on that humor coming from a place of ego and pride definitely disrespects others.

“I am here to make people happy, not to bring tears in their eyes,” she said.

[ Banner image by Brent Ninaber on Unsplash ]

About A New You:

We all deserve to have everything in our life exactly the way we want it.The first step begins with believing that every moment is bringing an opportunity to be a new you. As a founder, I provide tools to elevate all dimensions of your life and I teach you the art of writing to reach to your true potential.

Vandana Sehgal | Founder – A New You