Dr. James Hamblin, Writer and Senior Editor at The Atlantic, talks funny. Okay, maybe that should be rephrased: he deals with health topics in funny ways. This is a good thing because the power of humor is that it can charm and disarm. When people laugh they let their guard down and they’re more open to talking about topics that may otherwise be uncomfortable, complicated, or confusing. Hamblin’s If Our Bodies Could Talk video series uses humor to address some tricky topics with deadpan delivery, painting these topics in a new light which gets laughs and also paves the way for clearer understanding.
One such study on humor’s effectiveness at helping people to talk through challenging health topics was conducted by Michael Conway and Laurette Dubé at Concordia University and McGill University studying sunscreen use and condom use. Their study found that humor was effective in helping men and women to grapple with these topics.
So far, If Our Bodies Could Talk has addressed topics like: “Let’s Talk About Female Orgasms,” “Juice Cleanses: The Worst Diet,” and “Let’s Talk About Not Smoking, As Friends.” Each of these videos comes with the requisite amount of awkwardness as well as a dose of information that delights and educates. It’s easy to watch these videos and forget that you’re learning something about health–highlighting that how a message is designed is as important as the content itself, especially when it comes to swerving human behavior.
Hamblin’s series has recently focused on topics that address productivity and creativity. Some of these topics include the perils of multitasking, smartphone overuse and its effects on creativity, e-mail overdosing, and a challenge to “get some social” and not eat lunch at your work desk every day: “Sad Desk Lunch: Is This How You Want to Die?.” Many of these videos are highlighting how obesity, stress, isolation, and premature death are to blame for behaviors that are common in society. These are issues that affect people in many industries and work environments (design included!) and Hamblin’s take is a fun way to present the information.
Now that you’ve read this, close your computer and eat your lunch with some other people–or maybe a plant.