The English don’t need anyone to put them down… they do it well enough for themselves.
If you have spent any considerable time in this country, you will know that beating yourself up is a national pastime. It’s all part of the self-deprecating humour that Brits are known for. And by ‘Brits’ I mean, the English, since I have only lived in England. I’m not sure if this is a national trait in Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland. Most of the time, it actually IS funny, but sometimes, just sometimes, it feels a little uncomfortable to an American like me. Occasionally, it just seems like the default setting for people to make a disparaging comment about themselves rather than a more positive one. People do it without thinking.
What I am wondering about is: in our society where we are bombarded incessantly with negativity through every imaginable form of media, is this sort of humour actually harmful? Are the Brits unknowingly lowering their collective self-esteem? What about on a personal level? Do British people see themselves as inferior and want to beat people to the punch, or is it the other way around…a cover-up for feeling superior? Maybe it’s neither.
I know on the face of it you could say ‘Come on Magz, lighten up…we’re just making fun of ourselves, there’s nothing wrong with that.’ And mostly I would agree. But, there is that small psychologist-part-of-me that won’t shut up. She keeps saying, ‘but if you put yourself down enough, eventually you will believe it.’ There is (nearly) always a seed of truth in humour.
So what I want to know is, is it OK to put yourself down, even if only in jest? Is there ever a point when it becomes ‘not OK’? Do British people ever ponder this sort of thing, or just Americans like me?
Maybe I just need to join Over-analysers Anonymous…. (Hey! That was self-deprecating humour…did you see that?)
Maybe there’s hope for me yet….