Last Thursday, I had the day off for the holiday, and I happened to have Skype open from a recording I had just done with Dan for Defocused’s 29th episode, when all of a sudden Myke Hurley called me. I missed the first call, because I had disconnected the mic and walked in to the next room to get some water, but then I raced back over to set it up. Casey and Myke were talking about movie trilogies, and I wasn’t going to let it go by without saying something. Then they asked me to stick around for the rest of their recording. It really threw me off to be on a live recording, so I certainly wasn’t as articulate as I should have been. Sure enough, the title is a dumb thing that flopped out of my mouth.
I don’t think I was particularly insightful on the episode, but I wasn’t that bad. The subject was on criticism, and I skipped over one very important aspect of criticism that I hope Myke and Casey will address later: Unsolicited, ‘just kidding around’, snarky feedback.
There’s an asymmetrical relationship from following people on Twitter, and listening to their podcasts. The follower/listener can pickup on running jokes, including jokes aimed at the podcaster. They can recite that inside joke back to the podcaster, in a way that seems like appreciation. Like, “Oh hey, Fast Text is so old, blah blah blah” might seem like it’s just kidding around because all the other people on the podcast are saying it to that podcaster. The listener is joining in, and being a part of it. They want to be in on the joke with them.
However, because this relationship is one-sided, the “joke” might not land. It can come across as weird, unfunny, or even as an actual insult instead of the winky-wink-smiley-face comment the person intended.
It is difficult for someone following a Twitter account, or listening to a podcast, to insure their comments are taken in the spirit they’re offered. From the perspective of the listener, they’ve done all they should do, and they feel like they’re downright friendly. We’re all friends here, we’re all cracking the same jokes, we’re all just having a laugh. Except the listener is basically a person walking up to you on the street and saying that joke, without any context, in the real world. It can be a little weird.
Some advice, from an expert jerk:
Before you make those trolling in-jokes, get them to know you by having conversations with them. Jokes are fine, but steer clear of jokes about people that don’t know you. Comedy is still possible without it being an insult. Self-deprecating jokes are fine, but go easy on them, because it can sound like the person is full of self-loathing, and seeking pity.
For example: I know Casey well enough that I can tease him about movies. Casey also knows me well enough that he can tease me about how I “hate everything”. We both know the other is making a joke. If those had been some of the first things Casey and I had said to one another then I don’t think Casey and I would be talking. I certainly would not have been invited on their show at all.
Lastly, I say all of these things because I have done all of these things. Be internet buddies with everyone, but don’t get swept-up in the single-sided familiarity the internet offers.