You’ve heard the old trope, “The golden years are not for the faint of heart.” And every single one of us understands exactly what that means. It’s a challenge to grow older. There are aches and pains and the loss of young, blossoming beauty. It can hurt to grow older, and we recognize that fact.
We also know that keeping a healthy sense of humor about things we can’t change is one means of making life happier and more meaningful. In today’s technological world we often scan our phones or spend time scrolling through social media posts. And that’s where we often find the memes and jokes about aging that keep a smile on our faces.
Why do we love the picture of the kitten hanging onto the branch by a few claws? And why do we laugh at an obvious joke about aging such as “What is the senior citizen with arthritis’s favorite musical genre? Answer: Pop” Why do we oldsters share our less-than-ideal situations via jokes and engaging pictures? Well, here are a few reasons:
Humor Eases Tension
It’s a proven scientific fact that laughter is good for our health. It can reduce our awareness of pain, boost our immunity, reduce blood pressure and strengthen our overall health. When we laugh, we feel better. A hearty belly laugh can ease tension even in the most dire circumstances.
There are many things we can’t control as we age, but with a healthy sense of humour we can find the nuggets of fun and positive energy and embrace them via laughter.
We Identify with a Larger Community
Most of us identify with the Boomer generation. We loved the sixties and seventies when we were the young, vibrant ones. We remember the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and we “own” them in a way the younger generations do not.
All of us lived through the Vietnam war and the flower child movement. We know and understand those years in ways that younger folks only read about in books. So those are our people.
It’s sad to watch as more and more of our cultural heroes pass away. We see jokes and memes about public figures who were once young and vibrant and are now dealing with all the health problems we are experiencing first-hand. Our people have gotten old with us.
So laughing at our situation is one way of coping with the truth. We’re nearing the end of our earthly lives and we may as well enjoy each day. Life is still good.
We Stay Current with Cultural Trends
Yes, we are challenged with technology. Yes, we need to ask younger people to help us from time to time. But our brains and hearts are still strong and we want to be part of today’s trends. We want to enjoy new best-selling books, attend great musical events and the latest movies. We want to stay current on politics and sports and everything we loved when we were younger.
A meme often encapsulates a truth in one quick, impactful image. The visual image represents a larger idea and projects the proper feelings related to that truth. Memes are powerful and we enjoy them for that reason.
Likewise a joke, corny or not is another way of expressing feelings that soften the blow of the realities of aging. Yes, we aren’t as young as we once were, but we can still live with dignity as we embrace the humor found in our everyday life.
Laughter Brings Perspective
In some ways jokes and memes serve to make us feel part of something larger. We are included in the “inside joke” that tickles our funny bone. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a group that shares Cheesy Joke Mondays?
While our world has many discouraging trends, political situations, and personal health and relationship challenges, still there is a lighter, funny side of life. Encountering a joke that brings our laughter or identifying with a just-right meme can serve to bring perspective: life is still fun and worthwhile.
Recently James Corden, late night personality, interviewed a teacher at a high school in Calgary, Alberta. That teacher worked with his students to create a project during the Covid quarantines in which senior citizens could call in daily to a Senior Joke of the Day hotline. The project was successful: it logged more than 17,000 calls as seniors found their chuckle of the day.
We’re wise if we choose to laugh many times a day. We can train ourselves to look for beauty, look for the fun in life and make each day one worth living.