Should a Writer Make Fun of Their Readers?

angry-woman

Okay, so a couple of weeks ago I was minding my own business reading blogs that I subscribe to – one of which was on a blog I recently started reading. The blog author is very intense and writes with a take no prisoners attitude. Very popular.

However, as I started reading the post I frowned in confusion. First I couldn’t figure out what the point was – was it a rant, a joke, were they serious? Of course I had to read the entire post to finally get to the last line which basically said, in case you’re too dense to figure it out, this is satire.

But here’s the problem – satire is supposed to be funny. It makes fun of something or someone in a clever, witty way, that enables us to laugh, sometimes even at ourselves. But the post wasn’t funny. For a few reasons…

It danced around the topic instead of coming out and naming it outright. I mean crap, if you’re satirizing something shouldn’t you say what you’re satirizing? It was also very clear what the author’s personal views were on the topic and satire isn’t personal, it’s satire. And finally, it insulted anyone who didn’t share the author’s point of view. Myself included. It used phrases like ‘true believers’ and I believe ‘kool aid’ which we all know is code for well, you know….

I considered making a comment but in viewing the other comments I saw it would be a flame fest, should anyone have the opposite view of said satire.

In the end, I unsubscribed from the blog. But not because I was pissed and not even because the author and I had different views. I unsubscribed because I came away from that post thinking, “This writer thinks I’m an idiot.” And no matter what else I might’ve thought about the post, that was the lasting impression. So then why would I subscribe to a blog written by an author who thinks I’m an idiot? Naturally, I wouldn’t.

Now whether or not this author would give a flying crap about my unsubscribing from the blog is irrelevant. In fact, I’m pretty sure the author wouldn’t give a flying crap. Unless of course 100 other readers unsubscribed too. Or more. That might make the author notice. Or not. It’s hard to say. But I can guarantee, I’ll never buy anything written by that author. Which also means, I’ll never recommend anything written by that author, or their blog or conferences where the author is a speaker. And so on. So maybe it does matter or should.

We all have our world views and that’s fine. But there is a fine line between expressing our views and insulting our readers. I’m not sure I even know what that line is and frankly politics exhausts me so when I feel like ranting about it I try to do said ranting on political forums. Not always, but usually. But I find myself doing less and less of that because my focus is on books – writing them, reading them, helping other writers, and readers, making people laugh and generally not add to the noise of the incessant ranting on the Internet. I have to say, I do sleep much better at night now.

So, what do you think, would you unsubscribe from a blog under similar circumstances or just shrug it off?

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

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16 thoughts on “Should a Writer Make Fun of Their Readers?

  1. I just unsubscribed from person who I felt was being disrespectful toward someone for making a mistake I have also made in the past. I think that it’s good to point out when someone is wrong, but I don’t feel like disrespect has gotten humans very far.

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  2. Well, first of all, good for you. Unsubscribing without engaging in a potential “flame war” is definitely taking the “high road,” and given how upset it seems you were, that’s admirable.

    I have a question about this sentence you wrote: ” It used phrases like ‘true believers’ and I believe ‘kool aid’ which we all know is code for well, you know….” in which I do NOT know what you think “kool aid” is code for at all. I do know what it usually means: it’s a reference to the cult followers of the leader, Jim Jones, who convinced them to drink arsenic-laced Kool Aid to commit mass suicide/murder (children were involved) in “Jonestown” in the 1980s). Are you referring to something else?

    Also, in my opinion. well-written satire does not need a line at the end explaining that it was attempting to be satirical. Good satire is unmistakable; it just is, and it just is funny. She failed at both, it seems. Email me the URL ’cause now you’ve got me all curious! sallyember AT yahoo DOT com

    Sigh.

    Best to you,

    Sally

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    1. Hi Sally,
      You got the reference correctly – it is taken from that terrible real life event to express that the person’s views were the result of having been drugged or brainwashed.

      And I agree with you about satire – it shouldn’t need to be explained that it’s satire because you know, it’s funny and recognizable as satire. Like, “Jane you ignorant slut”, right?

      I don’t have the url to give you and I’d prefer not to point to the author. I was just using the this particular incident to make a point. Know what I mean?

      Thanks,
      Annie

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Louise,
    I know exactly what you mean. You can helpfully suggest ways to correct an error or mistake but when you take on the ‘know best’ attitude it does no one any favors. Right? And disrespect never got anyone anywhere, you’re right about that.

    WC

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  4. Hi, you did the right thing. A good writer is someone who’d respect everyone’s opinion. If a reader is put down just by reading an author’s post, the author becomes simply unsuccessful. Had I been in your place, i would have done the same. 🙂

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    1. Hi, that’s a very interesting way of looking at it and you’re right – that does equate to non-success on some level. I don’t begrudge anybody a good rant, truly, sometimes you just gotta 😉 but the propensity of people making statements that a vast group of people are all ______ (fill in the blank) because they don’t agree with you does no one any favors. And God, there’s so much ranting on the Internet that it can be depressing. Almost as bad as watching the evening news. You know?

      Thanks for your comments and visit. 🙂

      WC

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you can be passionate in how you write, sometimes overly (it happens to me too occasionally…), but making fun of the readers seems a bit extreme. Unless they’re in on the joke? It’s possible that the author expected them to smile with him/her. Right?

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    1. Hi Ramona,
      I agree you can be overly passionate and I’m certainly guilty of that at times. And I have no problem with others feeling that way either.

      As to the author expecting the readers to smile with them? Not sure. Honestly, not sure. Although even in the comments, the readers who clearly agreed, weren’t laughing but adding their own personal stories of people they know who are just as idiotic for believing the thing was supposed to be being satirized.

      My point in posting this wasn’t to get sympathy or even agreement. It was to point out that the way you present something can have bad results. I’m not a little flower who drops her petals at the drop of the hat and I certainly have engaged in heated debates (sometimes not smartly) on the Internet – so it’s not about hurt feelings. It’s about treating your audience with respect and if you’re going to present let’s say a controversial topic than to do it in a way that doesn’t intentionally insult your audience.

      Had the author simply said, ‘this is what I think about this.’ And for the most part written the same post I wouldn’t have unsubscribed to the blog because that would’ve been honest and I could’ve been fine with because I could’ve just said, ‘well we don’t agree on that.’ End of story. But by labeling it satire I thought was dishonest. Also, as another reader pointed out you shouldn’t have to tell people satire is satire. It should be obvious. Right?

      Anyway…and so life marches on. 🙂

      Annie

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    1. Yeah I tend to agree with you there. We all have limited time, right? And really life is too short to be feeling bad anyway. I say more dancing and singing – oh flowers and cupcakes too. That’s what we need. 🙂

      Thanks for your comments. 🙂

      WC

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  6. People can write whatever they choose, but when I come away feeling I have been insulted, I leave. I unsubscribe. I don’t have the desire to “like” insulting satire. It really would be pointless to continue following such a person.

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