Humor – A teenager’s therapist of choice


Gianna Ortner-Findlay and

A simple search for memes on ‘World War III’ allows for anyone to see how people are coping with the possibility of nuclear war. Photojournalist Gianna Ortner-Findlay captured one of the thousands of memes one could see to showcase how society is dealing with their fear. “By large, It seems like most people are really just trying to escape by kinda doing their own things,” counselor Bobby Storey said.

Gianna Ortner-Findlay, Reporter

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Counselors examine students’ responses to stress

The world constantly changes or alters itself to be better prepared for the future, and does so by learning from the past. People are no different. A resistance against change, and a humans’ ability to understand this change, resides at the center of being able to understand the world. This signifies the process of coping. Humor, a common form of coping, often replaces the role of a therapist for students.

“I would say that a lot of people try to escape,” counselor Bobby Storey said. 

The definition of coping signifies a person’s ability to effectively deal with something, and a good portion of the world deals with traumatic events with humor. With most coping mechanisms, it may often be used more as a way to escape one’s current reality rather than an attempt to understand it.

I feel like I cope through things by working hard on other things to distract myself,” senior Tyler Grinstead said.

While coping, in and of itself, can mainly be a positive thing, sometimes the effects of distracting oneself from the problem is a problem.

“A lot of people can’t even begin to start to cope or do effective coping until they identify what the issue is,” Storey said.

Students want to be able to understand themselves and the situations they’re going through, but the most common responses of coping aren’t fitting, or they’re abused beyond actually coping.

“Some people just don’t necessarily know how to stop themselves,” Storey said. “This joke made people laugh. I want to feel like that all the time. This drug made me feel like this. I wanna feel like that all the time.”

Storey believes that out of all the ways of coping, humor has become the least self-destructive, with it being one of the methods that lead to distraction from the original problem. Although distracting oneself can be good, never processing a problem can ultimately lead to another.

“Healthy coping can be as simple as a conversation or discussion about the problem, situation, fear, etc,” counselor aide Adalis Figueroa-Jones said, “It takes a village to work through some of our ‘stuff.'”

Advice from the counselors’ office to cope begins with these steps, first, distract oneself from a problem. Second, dissect it. People need to be able to understand what’s wrong, to begin with. If students and adults alike only focus on distancing themselves, they’ll never be able to face their problems.

I also wish I knew how to open myself up just a little bit more and show people how things are affecting me,” Grinstead said. “So they don’t just think that nothing is wrong.” 

Often times, students need to work with their counselor to be informed on what they need to practice to cope better.

“A good coping mechanism is [to] exercise and not some crazy work out routine,” Storey said. “Going for a walk, and especially without headphones.”

The counselors’ office suggests that, to ensure that problems are being dealt with in the healthiest way that they can be, that the following questions be answered. Think about if the coping mechanism in use. Was humor simply distracting from the real problem at hand, never to focus in on it? Or does it helping to digest the situation or event?

“I love laughter. Laughter for me has always been one of the biggest coping mechanisms, and I feel like I’ve personally succeeded if I can make a joke in a situation,” Storey said. “But I think the older that I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that making a joke in every situation is not the most awesome thing.” 

Remember, the next time a meme appears on a screen, be sure that it isn’t the only thing that’s verbalizing feelings. If students do not reach out and properly cope, they’ll never be able to get better.

“The idea of coping is taking something that you may or may not have words for yet and just trying to figure out what that puzzle can look like,”  Storey said. “Just anything to kind of get out of your [own] head.”