Published in the September 28, 2018 edition



A funny thing happened the other day.

And that’s the problem.

The state that our world, our country, our commonwealth and even our town are in is no laughing matter. We have serious problems, and yet some people continue to go on their merry way without a care in the world.

That’s all well and good in less precarious times. But we can ill afford those luxuries now. It’s time to get serious. To that end, a (very) small but growing nonpartisan group of enlightened local residents has decided to band together and fight this untoward epidemic of mirth.

We call our group “Gravitas.” We chose the name because nothing signals a serious level of highbrow virtue like a Latin-sounding name.

Gravitas is concerned about our society’s declining level of earnestness, troubling lack of solemnity and increasing dearth of sincerity. With all the critical issues urgently crying out to be addressed, can we really afford to waste time with jocularity, tomfoolery and frivolous repartee?

We think not.

Our initial aim is to get our local elected leaders on board. Just because your meetings are televised, it does not mean that you are entertainers. We encourage local boards and committees to stick to line items and avoid one-liners. Jests, bon mots and witticisms by our town officials may make the dreary business of government more tolerable for them, but they send the wrong message to the public.

Next, we hope to get our message out to the institutions that perpetuate this false sense that all is well and otherwise divert our attention from the seriousness at hand.

When you fritter away an evening at a comedy club, sipping cocktails through plastic straws, do you think a sea turtle is laughing as it chokes on that straw?

And what of your late-night so-called comedians? Have their nightly jokes about White House tweets done anything to stem the crisis of presidential tweeting?

Clearly, humor is not working to move us forward as a society.

Especially counterproductive is a form of humor known as “snark.” Defined as “sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner,” it has become all too prevalent in our discourse. Some people don’t seem to know any other way to communicate besides the sarcastic wisecrack or the cynical jab.

That’s where Gravitas comes in. We believe it’s time to get serious about being serious.

By our example, we at Gravitas are here to set the new standard for communication, one that is more dreary than cheery; one that is more humdrum than hilarious; and one that is dull rather than droll.

If, like us, you’re more inclined to hubris than humor, Gravitas wants you.

And that’s no joke.