Today is the day I hate even more than Pirate Speaking Day — April Fool’s Day — where everyone gets to hurt someone else’s feelings on purpose and by design and then just laugh it off later. We previously discussed the cruel phenomenon of this day in Schadenfraude and The April Fool — and in thinking what to say this year concerning this awful topic, I became bemused by an email from Duke University claiming research demonstrating embarrassment is actually good for us:
Although blushing after an April Fool’s joke might worsen your embarrassment, there is a bright side, says a Duke University professor who is an expert on embarrassment and blushing.
“Everybody blushes to some degree,” said Mark Leary, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. “It’s a sign that you’re attuned to the social norms. Those who don’t blush tend to be indifferent to behaving appropriately.”
Embarrassment arises when you present an image of yourself to others that you didn’t want to present, Leary said. And, even though falling for that April Fool’s trick might make you worry that others will view you badly, in fact, visible signs of embarrassment actually help your social situation, he said.
He said humans’ reaction to being embarrassed is similar to “appeasement behavior” in chimps — the silly grin, the body language — that tells others that the individual recognizes his or her transgression and asks for forgiveness. “Other people like you better if you appear embarrassed,” Leary said.
Now if that Duke email and website are real — and not crumbling into laughter that we purchased their April Fool’s Day prank as we become embarrassed — do you agree or not that turning scarlet-faced is a healthy thing for your body, mind and spirit?
Isn’t April Fool’s Day bent in mocking and born of cruelty? What satisfaction does one gain in making someone else feel uncomfortable? Isn’t this the ultimate argument in duplicity: “I’m making fun of you because it’s good for your health!”