Friday, February 8, 2013

We Should Clearly Label Satire On The Web

Satire is a powerful form of communication. But on political blogs and in comment threads it can often become confusing and counterproductive. It's crucial for a writer to use tags and other labels to clearly mark what he's saying so that the message reaches his audience.

We all know what it's like to read a piece of text in which the author's intent is ambiguous. In which the author is telling us things we know aren't true, but it's difficult to respond, because we can't see whether the author really straightforwardly believes these statements, or actually believes their opposite and is trying to spotlight how ridiculous they are. And as we try to discover the "meaning behind the meaning" we have to slow down and struggle with the words themselves. People in the comment section begin to post other items the author has written and discuss the context of the piece. The real issue just gets lost in a wasteful, meaningless argument over whether to treat every statement the author makes as a simple assertion to be fought or accepted, or as a code to mean exactly the opposite. Labeling something easily and clearly let's the reader hear the authorial voice at work - hear whether the writer is a friend, someone to be trusted. Someone who can find all the new ways to elaborate on the ideas you already have. Or whether the author is someone who doesn't believe the things you believe, and then you can treat him like the last person you had a 154-comment war with in an effort to make sure you fought the words so they went away and you could go back to what you were doing. But it's okay, it's just like the Onion, it's okay. You just think of exactly the reverse of the thing he's saying. Just turn it inside out, and it'll be okay. Look AT THE TAG ASSHOLE LOOK AT THE TAG. I want tell everyone a story about someone in my family, someone close, a family just like you have, only this terrible thing happened, are you upset are you upset THIS REALLY HAPPENED and now I'll connect it to some famous person I know we both hate, and he's at fault, and here's why, and we're all sharing the warmth and the vicious murderous hate at the same time, and isn't that the sugar in the coffee? And when I'm not sure what you really think I can't call you a troll, and the label won't close up over your words and seal them in, and then they get out, and I have to have an argument with you tomorrow while waiting in line. I only have a few minutes to read this, and I want the next thing I can tell the guy who works beside me who'll never agree who won't see I'm right I want to change him, I want to change his mind with the fact, I want the fact, just load it in there. Bullet points I see what you did there.

Someone send me a post about Dick Cheney punching a baby a study that confirms everything my mother said a sneezing kitten clip jesus don't leave me alone don't leave me alone don't leave me alone with my own thoughts.


  1. Dear god, the kitten sneeze ... and somehow, something called "life" and "work" continues, albeit at a much degraded state.

    Meanwhile, the cat retains its dignity despite our bestial voyuerism.

  2. Remember, of course, that,

    "He is not a bad man. He is just wrong. WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! AND WE WILL TRAIN HIM TO BE RIGHT!"

    -- Rev. Jim-Bob


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