Some people say mean things, and when they get chastised for it, will say it is a joke. But the “mean version” is likely what they meant – they just want to change it into a joke to avoid being in trouble with you.
Schrödinger‘s Douchebag: A person who akes offensive or inflammatory remarks and characterizes these statements as either sincere or joking based on the reactions of others.Source : Wiktionary [Link]
This references the idea of “Schrödinger’s cat”, where the hyperthetical cat exists in two states of existence until you check it, alive and dead. In this case the “douchbag” is trying to keep their remark in a state of sincere or joking until they can determine if you will be offended by it or entertained.
The question you should be asking is – do they mean this because:
- They are ignorant
- They thought they were fitting in
- They have a phobic response to something
- They are just not a nice person (mallice)
Determining why the person is using this tactic can help you determine if this is a Red or Amber Flag [Link].
Another question that is good to ask is – what are you going to do about it? Some good options are:
- Challenge it
- Educate and advocate
- Enjoy the joke with them (if it is a joke and not problematic)
- Avoid them if they won’t or can’t learn
Your choice may depend on your energy levels and safety.