Nathan Hansen's column: Insert laugh
As someone who tries to be funny in a public setting on a semi-regular basis I know there are few fates worse than people not getting the joke you are trying to make. Getting eaten by a shark is probably worse. Or getting sneezed on by a giraffe with a head cold. But that’s about it.
It happens, though. The world is full of people who lack a sense of humor, either because they were born without one, because they were raised in a humorless household like the ones depicted on reality television shows like Everybody Loves Raymond or because they lost it in a tragic jet ski accident.
Sometimes it seems like nearly all of them are on Facebook. There’s an entire website, called literallyunbelievable.org, that exists solely to catalog instances of Facebook posters totally missing the point of satirical stories from publications like The Onion.
(“How do they ensure it’s not someone else’s sweat,” one poster wondered in response to an Onion story claiming welfare recipients would soon be required to mail in perspiration samples to prove they were working hard to find a job.)
Now, though, the popular social network is doing something about it. In recent weeks it has been running a test with some of its users, labeling humorous posts as satire so people don’t unnecessarily work their blood pressure up to dangerous levels or write ill-informed letters to their elected representatives.
I’ll admit, I’m torn. On the one hand, labeling something as satire is a little like elbowing someone in the ribs every time you tell a joke and asking if they get it. It’s annoying, and generally people don’t appreciate bruised ribs.
On the other hand, many people seemed genuinely disgusted a few months ago by a photo that implied Steven Spielberg had hunted and killed one of the triceratops that appeared in Jurassic Park. And that’s ridiculous. Triceratops are prime hunting. I’d be much more upset if he’d shot a noble and graceful pterodactyl.
Maybe people really do need humor labeled for them. Maybe I should try an experiment of my own.
What follows is a brief, by no means complete, explanation of the humor contained in this column.
• In the first paragraph I implied that getting eaten by a shark and getting sneezed on by a phlegmy giraffe were equally objectionable fates. This is obviously not true. Getting sneezed on by a giraffe would be much worse. A lot of phlegm builds up in a neck that long.
• I understand that Everybody Loves Raymond is not a reality show. It is a sitcom like Duck Dynasty or Wheel of Fortune. I maintain, however, that none of those shows is funny.
• A sense of humor cannot be lost in a jet ski accident. It must be removed in a complicated procedure involving lazers.
• Steven Spielberg obviously never shot any dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are made-up creatures like unicorns and Paris Hilton.
• This column is meant to be funny. Please laugh.