There's a fine line between laughing at a joke and becoming the joke. And while most of us cross it at one point or another, these unfortunate folks did it on the Internet, and their fails have been immortalized on the subreddit r/woooosh.
If you aren't familiar with the place, all you need to know is that it's an archive of screenshots, showing someone misinterpreting a joke. And the more ignorant a post is, the better it does within the community. I'm talking about people so clueless, they really think a guy mistakes a plane for a bus. Or that another one believes that sharks have toes. Just continue scrolling and you'll see what I'm talking about. When you're done, check out our earlier posts on the topic here and here.
The subreddit has grown a lot since its creation on November 1, 2016. Now, it has over 890,000 members and is steadily approaching the 1 million mark. Not to mention all the similar subreddits, like r/woosh.
True, the Internet is so full of lies and "fake news", sometimes it's hard to tell if what you are looking at is sincere or not. But often, it is pretty obvious that the person who posted something was making a joke and others didn't get it. Maybe it was a bad joke – but it is still a joke nonetheless, and it is our job, as smart people who use the Internet, to recognize it. Or accept our mistake and move on if we don't.
Interestingly, humor is found in all cultures and at all ages, and in recent decades experimental psychology started viewing it as an essential, fundamental human behavior.
Historically, psychologists framed humor negatively, saying it demonstrated superiority, vulgarity, Freudian id conflict, or a defense mechanism to hide one’s true feelings.
But research on humor has evolved, viewing it as a character strength. Positive psychology, a field that is dedicated to what people do well, states that humor can be used to make others feel good, to gain intimacy, or to help buffer stress. Together with gratitude, hope, and spirituality, a sense of humor belongs to the set of strengths positive psychologists call transcendence; they help us connect to the world and provide meaning to life. Appreciation of humor correlates with other strengths, such as wisdom and love of learning.
So remember, it's perfectly normal if we don't get a joke or two. However, it's a whole other story if we don't find anything funny.