I decided a long time ago that I don’t like to make fun of people. Sure, there can be a sense of camaraderie achieved with gentle teasing, but that only works if you know the person very well and are following their lead. If someone hasn’t pointed out and laughed at their own foibles, chances are, they aren’t laughing when they those less-than-perfect qualities are pointed out to them by others. Oh, sure, maybe they’ll laugh along with you, but I’d so much rather be certain they find it funny instead of laughing along to save face or to lessen the discomfort they may feel. If someone has laughed at themselves over something, then I feel comfortable laughing at them, too. I do not want to be the cause of discomfort or social anxiety.
I’ve also noticed, as have many, many sociologists and psychologists, that people can be defensive when faced with perceived criticism from others. People are more likely to accept or change their perceived shortcomings when they realize them on their own. So me bringing those shortcomings to light through teasing has the potential to be unhumorous, hurtful and actually counterproductive in affecting change.
But so much of human behavior is silly! And it makes me laugh! So I channel that energy into laughing at myself. Not only does acknowledging the humor in my flaws help me grow and free me from perfection, it tends to send a signal to others that it’s ok for them to laugh at me, it’s ok to be imperfect and it’s ok to laugh at yourself! And once they’ve laughed at themselves over something, I know they find it funny and we can laugh together.