Maybe we are evolved to laugh.

“The evolution of bipedal locomotion freed the respiration system of its support function during running, permitting greater breath control and the selection for human-type laughter (a parsed exhalation), and subsequently the virtuosic, sustained, expiratory vocalization of speech. This is the basis of the bipedal theory of speech evolution.”
-Provine et al. 2017

Laughter is contagious within a group and seems to be a vitally important social means of communicating. It bonds groups, breaks down barriers, and generally signifies safety. It also feels good. We crave it from somewhere old and deep inside.

“Social laughter increased pleasurable sensations and triggered endogenous opioid release in thalamus, caudate nucleus, and anterior insula.”
-Manninen et al 2017

You hopefully didn’t need science to tell you that it is enjoyable and addictive to laugh with friends.

But, what about when laughter seems to have the opposite effect?

Insecure, anxious, fear-based laughter.

My face hardens just thinking about it. Awkward laughter filling silence visibly irks me. If a stranger does this, I won’t even smile, as I want to end the conversation as quickly as possible. I tend to be gruff, curt, maybe even crotchety, and generally won’t partake in empty conversations that aren’t hilarious. Take it or leave it. I am direct. That does not mean I do not care immensely about those within my band, quite the opposite. Being able to curtail relationships I know will be one-sided and drain me allows for more effort in win-win relationships.

If I am in a consult and a human does this repeatedly, I know they are starved for a social group. They are starved for real connection with other humans. I will generally smile, but am much more cautious with this human in the tone and amount in which I converse with them, as they have the potential to cling.

Remember high school?

Nothing kills a relationship like desperation.

So if you are one of these humans who is afraid of silence and craves real connection, you need to do some serious internal work. That could be meditation, it could be therapy, or both, but until you make this happen, you are subconsciously communicating distress, neediness, and damage to the group.

Humans recognize sleep deprivation and physical ill-health subcortically within milliseconds, and the instinct is stay away. My guess is the same goes for those bumbling, shaky, half giggles to needlessly punctuate a perfectly normal question.

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