06 June 2006
A Lesson Learnt
I've had an interesting lesson in internet (and comedic) misinterpretation over the last few days.
It began with my previous post. Perhaps I should have explained that the idea came from a similar post I read on someone else's blog, found at random, some years ago. That person had very different political views to mine, and basically said they hate everything I believe in. Reading it, I thought "That's amusing, I must write a post like that of my own one day." But I didn't include this explanation, believing that to get the full effect, it would be better if I launched straight into the tirade.
Then I made my mistake: I published a link to the post, again with no explanation, on a forum I post to semi-regularly. I hoped it would get people talking. Well it did, but not in quite the way I had intended. I was flamed to a toasty crisp. Somehow, and I can't quite believe it, people seemed to think I was writing about them, and were personally offended by what I said. People picked up on points on the list which applied to them, and shot back furious insults at me. The zenith (or nadir?) was reached when someone said that whilst they aren't a vegan, they respect vegans rights and decisions!
About there was where I lost it, laughing.
Imagine if I was offended in the same way. Yesterday one of the Big Brother housemates, Claire, said she votes Green because "she's not educated enough to make a decision". But wait! Several of my close friends vote Green. Is Claire saying my friends are uneducated? Well, I hope she's nominated soon so I can vote her out of the house!
But of course I didn't think that way, because that would be ridiculous. I can understand that it's not all about me...but that it is about the context. There is a venerable tradition of the tirade being used for comedic purposes. Whether or not my post was actually funny, it was never meant to be taken seriously. You can see from that list - I offended everybody. Someone posted that if that's the way I feel, they feel sorry for me, but if they can so badly misinterpret something, I really feel sorry for them. I can understand why writers get so fed up with critics who miss the point. If someone said a post was poorly written and the facts were wrong, I could understand. But to be misinterpreted is incredibly frustrating.
However, I'm not going to post this on that forum. When was the last time you heard someone end an argument with "Okay, now that I understand, I can see that I was completely wrong"? But I have learnt a lesson on how humour, and the tone of anything one writes on the internet, can be taken out of context and twisted into any shape the reader sees fit. I won't be posting links to the pod much from now on. (Well, unless I'm posting funny pictures, or talking about things in a completely up-beat way that no one could possibly take offence at. Lobotomy, anyone?)
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