We talked about how exactly we use humor and laughter as a coping mechanism for mental health on Monday. Of course, everyone finds different things amusing (memes and self-deprecating humor are two topics we’ve covered before), but cringe humor has started to become more and more popular among adolescents on social media.
Cringe humor is kind of a combination of both memes and self-deprecating humor. It thrives off of awkwardness and getting strong reactions from whoever is watching or engaging with the humor.
The best example of cringe humor? TikTok. That strange video platform that no one, including its users, can really, truly define. As a video uploading site, the kind of content that goes up there can vary, but what people usually associate it with are those odd lip-synching videos and strange activities out in public where they disrupt otherwise normal routines. It’s reminiscent of Vine from a few years ago – short videos that are ready to be meme’d at any moment – but has the addition of filters and more than 6 seconds to do something ridiculous.
Cringe humor has been around for a while though. In a way, it’s the 21st century version of slapstick humor, where someone slipping on a banana peel or getting pied on the face is funny to us. The Office is incredibly well-known for its cringe humor (especially with Michael Scott), so it’s no wonder that the younger generation that actively uses TikTok is discovering the sitcom and is obsessed with it, despite it first airing 15 years ago.
At the end of it all, cringe humor is someone openly putting themselves out there knowing fully well that they’re doing something silly and embarrassing, and this vulnerability can lighten situations, especially in current times when teens and adolescents have been feeling anxious and hopeless. Cringe humor through outlets like TikTok and The Office compilations are short and accessible, and at the end of the day are just silly and can provide a quick distraction for some when everything else can feel overwhelming.
The vulnerability that others put out by engaging in cringe humor can inspire us to embrace the awkwardness too. Although it’s probably not to the same degree, seeing others put themselves out there in a silly way can have us look into the things that we’re self-conscious or anxious about when it comes to our own personality and come to terms with it.
We can’t be perfect (no one is) and it can get really anxiety-inducing trying to have that composed appearance all the time. Cringe humor shows us that if others are willing to drop that facade and goof off and put what others thinks are our flaws out in the open, then we can too.
Do you watch TikTok? Do you like cringe humor? What ways do you think you can embrace your imperfections?