I've always been a sensitive soul and the words spoken to me have always had a large impact. While this is great when kind words reach my ears, the opposite situation is not so great. Over the past few years "banter" has become incredibly popular, but unfortunately, more often than not, banter is actually used as a way to be downright horrible to people.
Don't get me wrong, I can take a joke and I can see the humour in most situations. For example, the other day my colleague and I were getting the bus to work and I tripped on the step leading to the seats at the back of bus, falling flat on my face. The entire bus turned round simultaneously to see what had happened and my friend burst out laughing. I burst out laughing too! Although I had a rather impressive bruise on my thigh where it had hit the step, the way everyone had turned to look at exactly the same time and the slapstick manner in which I fell, were genuinely hilarious.
The thing is, for someone else, this situation could have been very different.
Another example from my own life: I was walking into town to meet my friends as a teenager. I was wearing a very pretty little outfit. A group of builders were stood in the pavement, blocking my way around. It was quite an intimidating group so I stepped into the road to pass them. Unfortunately, I then slipped in some mud, completely ruining the outfit I was wearing. If someone had laughed at me on this particular occasion, I would have been very hurt and there would have been tears.
We are all people and we all have feelings and sometimes, so called banter and "having a laugh" cross the line from fun with friends to downright nastiness.
All too often, I see so called friends sneering and laughing at each other, calling each other names and laughing at each other's misfortunes. This is then all brought under the umbrella term "banter." I see people who get upset at this behaviour getting told they "can't take a joke" or people trying to laugh along with their friends at their own expense, a pained look on their face.
As shown in my examples above, there are times when it is appropriate to laugh with your friends, and times when it absolutely is not. Calling your mate a dickhead every once in a while or giggling when they slip is hardly going to ruin their life, but what about when it's constant?
The words we hear on a daily basis sink into our consciousness, whether they are meant in jest or not. If someone is constantly laughing at you and calling you names, you will start to wonder if there's any truth to what they're saying. Let's be honest, being the butt of everybody's jokes day in day out soon loses its comedy. If someone is calling you useless every time you see them, you might start wondering if it's true. If your "friend" has a giggle every day because of the way you dress, you might just find yourself becoming very self conscious when you leave the house.
Why can't we just be nice to our friends?
If your friendship can't survive without without such nastiness, why are you even friends to begin with? Friendships should be built upon a lot more than "jokes" at the expense of each other. Instead, try building each other up instead of tearing each other down.
If you absolutely must have "banter" in your day to day life, then make sure you set boundaries with your closest friends. Make 100% sure you're not inadvertently making your best friend feel like shit in the process.
When someone slips, ask if they're OK. Then burst out laughing.
If your friend is being a bit silly, check there's not something more serious going on under the surface, then call them a slightly offensive and yet affectionate nickname.
I feel so much more positive when I'm around groups of people that support each other. Compliments are thrown around, we celebrate each other's success, we offer genuine sympathy and support when required and we never make fun of each other for petty little reasons.
Wouldn't you rather have friendships that looked like that?
The Vixen Thinks is an ALMOST weekly feature on this blog. Posts vary in topic, I'll talk about anything I have an opinion on! From blogging to relationships to feminism and anything beyond. If there's anything you'd like me to write about, feel free to get in touch: email@example.com! Thank you!