Are trolls just bad at telling jokes?

| Friday, March 26, 2010
I have this whole post written up about wow.com and blog links and building up visitors. It's just about ready to go. Except for one slight problem: it's mostly intended as a joke, but instead it looks like a desperate plea for attention, randomly bashing Gnomeaggedon, wow.com, and Big Bear Butt guy. It looks like a gigantic troll.

How could I bash Gnomeaggedon? He's one of my top two gnomes! And Larisa. Third place is of course Millhouse Manastorm. But who would know this? It would be an inside joke told outside. Then there's wow.com. Why would I bash them? They've done nothing to hurt me or help me. But again, who would know? Rather than being intentional nonsense it would look like unintentional, and not so nice, nonsense. Finally druid guy, why would I attack him? I read his blog one day, looked nice, had a kitty drinking water. I can't remember why I didn't follow it. But who cares? I'm rambling...

Short version: post was supposed to be funny but wasn't because it would be hard to recognize that it wasn't just me being a total asshole.

As any DVD release will do, here is a special exclusive unseen deleted scene. Post. It's a bit old now, but it fits.
I got banned from the official forums again. Again.

I tried to make a joke, which in retrospect was a bit lame. I claimed that the Infinite Dragonflight in CoT: Stratholme was actually Ensidia trying a new Lich King exploit. Like I said, a bit lame, and a bit late.

From my perspective, it's a harmless stupid joke. I could see an argument for it being spam, but in that case, I'd just delete it. This being in the mythical universe where I'm a forum mod.

Trolling and spamming are listed together, so it's hard to tell exactly what the problem was. Iapetes suggested it was trolling. Made no sense at all. Until he pointed out that it would rile up the extremists on the pro and anti-Ensidia sides. That wasn't my intention, but it certainly makes sense as something to take action to prevent.

This leads me to a question: Are trolling and joking the same thing? I say no, but in the right context, they lead to the same result: flame wars and stupidity.

In my family we sometimes tell Obama jokes, about he's going to kill our grandma or he's a socialist or whatever. They're jokes and we take them as such. I suppose they're not actually about him but about people who talk about him. Whatever they are, they start and stop at joke. Imagine if we said this at a rally either for or against him. "Obama wants to kill my grandma!" Suddenly it's not ironic. It's either a call for more people to join in with senseless screaming, or for people to rabidly attack me.

Or let's take another pair of contexts. I walk up to an Obama rally and ask one of the people "so how's that hopey changey thing workin' out for ya?" I'd look like a total asshole, wouldn't I? On the other hand, if I said it as a tea party rally, I'd just fit in and seem ironic and observant.

That last paragraph is edited. I thought the last line might have not been as funny as I thought, so away it went.

Or are we just bad at seeing jokes? [insert scientific-sounding psychology research]; Bullies don't interpret actions normally. They interpret as hostile what are neutral or humorous gestures, and respond as one does to hostility: by beating up little kids on the playground. Or that's just me. And bullies.

Maybe we are bullies, seeing hostility where there is none. Then responding in turn, with real hostility. It doesn't help that text is ambiguous; you can put any face on the writer. Am I deep in thought? Smirking? Laughing? You don't know! Does that exclamation point mean I just shouted at you? If you can't see my face, you won't know exactly what I intended to say. Put the wrong face on me and the results could be disastrous, on a very very tiny scale.

People adapt to their environments. A mean place creates mean people. It isn't always permanent, but it happens. When we get used to everyone being a flame-baiting troll (or so we think), do we lose our ability to see the joke?

A joke is supposed to make us laugh. A troll is supposed to make us angry. A bad joke might make us angry.

No offense intended.

4 comments:

SlikRX said...

Alas, my sense of humor FROM other people is that of a flacid tuna. I simply don't get it.

Like yours & MM's joking flame war.

I assumed it was a joke at the start, but me being me, I didn't "get it".

I think your joke post is a great idea, now that I'm aware, but at the same time, you just explained the joke (which, for me, was necessary) and as in all cases, jokes lose much of their comedy when they get explained.

Klepsacovic said...

Do you mind if I make you my scapegoat for all failed jokes?

Elizabeth Harper said...

I've been thinking about writing something on "how to be included in The Daily Quest on WoW.com" but I can never quite decide if being linked from WoW.com is a blessing or a curse. We get reactions on both sides of the fence...

As for jokes, I've played a troll for long enough that I probably cannot comment objectively.

Mark said...

"I tried to make a joke, which in retrospect was a bit lame. I claimed that the Infinite Dragonflight in CoT: Stratholme was actually Ensidia trying a new Lich King exploit."

I laughed out loud when i read that. Perhaps it was a little late, but i appreciated it, ty for making my day!

-enaelis, drak'thul (horde)

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