One Person’s Joke is Another Person’s Serious Comment

A Facebook scam has resurfaced which convinces people to paste text onto their Facebook wall thinking that it will protect them from from those who would mis-use their personal data. My response is usually to write a humorous parody or spoof of the scam. I did that recently posting a piece using, and mis-using, many legal terms to poke fun at the original scam. Here is the post:

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As of today at 15:45, Coordinated Universal Time, my privacy will neither be an accessory nor an accomplice for ad hoc admissibility of the aforementioned arraignment. Accordingly, the absolute discharge of encumbrances by all and sundry sisters of the covenant shall apply. Ad hoc trustees shall be subject to arrest or arrested development, in perpetuity, or until the age of consent or the age of Aquarius, whichever comes first, except after C. Bona fide causation suggests that the plaintiff’s briefs be examined in chambers for intestate malfeasance. To avoid malicious prosecution for manslaughter, or womanslaughter, subject to insidious caveat emptor warrants, be acquitted accordingly. With regard to my profile or other personal information, this admonition remains in effect four score and a fortnight. Amen.

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When I saw the scam posting several weeks ago, I got the idea to write a spoof. The original scam posting was written so as to look authoritative and credible. It dropped the right words. It touched the fear button. It wasn’t funny. Yet it made you wonder: Why would someone be inclined to follow the recommended steps in he scam?

I started thinking that I could write my own parody of the original scam text. I decided that my structure would be Legaleze-Gibberish. I started by building a list of legal terms. I had a list of terms more than twice what I actually used. Then I started writing sentences which almost sounded like they made semse, but they didn’t. The key to doing that was to honor the type of word I was using (noun, verb, adjective) but to make no connection with the word’s meaning. If read with conviction, it sounds like it means something even though it doesn’t. As I wrote, I strayed from legal words when I saw other connections. For example:
– Sisters of the covenant
– Arrest or arrested development
– Age of Aquarius
– Except after C
– Womanslaughter
– Briefs be examined
– Four score and a fortnight
– Amen. On a whim I closed the piece with AMEN. Nonsensical.

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My post strikes most people in one of two ways. Either they are totally confused. Or they think I am brilliant. Their responses are neither good nor bad, right nor wrong…they’re just different. People who are good friends, who are intelligent people, and who have a sense of humor, can see life differently from me. They laugh at different things and see an alternate version of the world. The things that make them laugh may be connections that don’t strike me as funny. We’re entitled to our differences. How boring the world would be if we were all identical. One person could look at a Facebook posting, think it’s funny, and wonder how anybody could possibly think it was a serious post. At the same time, another person could look at it as a serious attempt to share necessary information which couldn’t possibly strike anyone as funny.

Add to the mix, even when I see something which strikes me as funny, you probably won’t see me laughing. I appreciate humor but rarely laugh. That may send mixed signals to people, making them believe that I’m serious when in fact I’m making a joke or internally processing some humor.

Humor is not a one-size-fits-all skill that we’re born with, nor a talent that we learn. It’s a gift that allows us to see relationships in different ways. If someone you know says something which confuses you…If they’re joking but you think they’re serious, or if you think they’re serious but they’re joking, both are form of mis-communication. Say something, and you can both learn from the experience. No kidding. What are your thoughts on this subject? Leave your thoughts in the comments section of this post.