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Tag Archives: humor

Well, Is the Internet Making Us Funnier?

In this travelogue, I’ve explored ways the internet-facilitated humor builds communities and draws people together across boundaries they might not usually cross. I’ve showed ways in which internet humor is invading the offline world. And I’ve also discussed networked features of humor on the internet (multidirectional communication, informality, chatter, and lingering distribution).

But I still haven’t answered the big question: “is the internet making us funnier?”.

Well?

If we’re only talking about quantity and speed, then sure. Online, we can easily create and share humor, and we can do it really really quickly!

But qualitatively funnier? In the real world? Maybe I could begin to answer this question if I had hours and months and years to do a content analysis of sitcoms or movies or standup comedy or books over the decades.

But honestly, I think the answer is no. When it comes down to it, people are still making the same kind of jokes, they’re just finding new ways to share and comment upon them. I think this video from the Library of Congress makes my point.

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Guys! People have been messing with cats since at least the 1880s! Which is when this video was made. Seriously.

I’d also like to mention: while there’s a ton of stuff that’s funny out there on the internet, there’s a lot of content that really, really isn’t. In some simplistic way, wouldn’t funny and unfunny create a counterbalance to one another?

Anyway, in an effort to create make something funnier, by building upon something that’s already out there, and then distribute it far and wide using, check out this hilarious video uploaded onto youtube, a source of networked comedy!

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Networking Humor

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I found this week’s reading to be really relevant to my study of humor on the internet. As I mentioned last week, humor creates an in/out dichotomy – if you’re in on the joke then you’re in the community. If you’re not, well… as Lorink writes in “The Principle of Networking”:

‘Network struggle does not rely on discipline: creativity, communication and self-organized cooperation are its primary values.’ Its focus is primarily on the inside, not on the enemy. Hardt and Negri rightly note that organization becomes less a means and more an end in itself.

However. What I want to focus on this week is how enabling individuals to share humor across geographical or physical boundaries allows comedy to grow fast and big. When gets everyone involved, the joke just gets funnier. Read More »

Bridging the Gap – Using Humor to Build On- and Off-line Relationships

I decided to start out this last travelogue with the question: “What is humor?”. Well, there are a lot of definitions out there, but I think the most important quality is that it is socially constructed – things are funny because the people around us think their funny. Maintaining social humor helps build rapport and community.

To start out, a very non-digital media example:

This summer I read a classic ethnography called Guests of the Sheik by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea. It was published in the mid ’60s, long before inexpensive, near-instantaneous, global, transcultural communication was made possible by the Internet. Fernea traveled to Iraq in the late ’50s as a young newly-wed to join her husband, an anthropologist. The book details her struggle trying to learn the language, culture, and etiquette of women living in a rural Iraqi village. Fernea’s diligent attempts to become a member of the community don’t go very well for her at first. After many months, she begins to grasp enough of the language and culture to learn that the women, while seemingly polite, have been making fun of her the whole time – right to her face! And it isn’t until she is able to crack her own jokes on the women that they begin to accept her, and begin to consider her a whole person. Read More »