A little teasing actually helps us all get along, Dacher Keltner argues in the New York Times Magazine. From the schoolyard to the NBA hardwood, America has come to oppose teasing, mostly because we too often confuse good-natured ribbing with bullying. “In rejecting teasing,” Keltner writes, “we may be losing something vital and necessary to our identity.”
That something is the ability “to test bonds and to create them,” because “teasing allows us to send messages in indirect, masked ways—an essential means of navigating our often-fraught social environments.” We can set up social hierarchies, do a little flirting, and blow off steam, all by teasing. "In seeking to protect our children from bullying and aggression, we risk depriving them of a most remarkable form of social exchange," writes Keltner.