Teasing vs. the SCA and e-mail

I. Marc Carlson LIB_IMC at centum.utulsa.edu
Thu Dec 5 06:58:24 PST 1996

<Phelim Uhtred Gervas<"Pug Bainter" <pug at pug.net>>>
>I guess me trying to tease people doesn't come across very well, even
>with winks. I give up.

You have my total sympathies.  As someone who has been accused of 
having a dry, acerbic writing style (we won't even *discuss* the
public speaking style, thank you) it is sometimes very difficult
for me to convince people that I'm joking.

I've heard all the cop-out BS about the "medium" not being conducive to
expressing body language, and I just don't buy it.  People have been writing
for millenia, and never needed them before. Furthermore, aside from the 
insecure ramblings of some junior high school students, or the 
affectations of those who are *just* too cute for words, the Internet
contains the highest Smiley-to-signal ratio in the history of the
planet, and people are STILL misconstruing our meanings.

For what its worth, messages to and about the SCA are the *only* public 
place that I use things like "emoticons", mostly because it's easier than 
dealing with the "Here in the Internet we use these things called 
smileys..." notes every tenth message or so [I use them in private mail
for other reasons, and generally only to those people who are familiar
enough with my sense of humor that they are in the context of a shared

Therefore, the reason that the humor is being missed is due to a) the
author's failure to express themselves clearly, or b) the reader's failure
to bother to actually READ what was before them before ascribing intent
to it.  Simple cybernetics suggests that there is a c) other noise on the
line that is not specifically the fault of either the author or the reader.
This means that, as long as you, as the author, have made a real attempt 
to properly write what you mean, then you have nothing to apologize for.  
If you, as the reader have really tried to understand what the author is 
trying to say, rather than just getting pissed off after a brief scan-
through of the message, then YOU have nothing to apologize for. 
As for the third option, thanks to the noise generated by self-important
people in the SCA (other groups have them too, but I am referring specifically
to those members of the SCA) with no sense of humor, there is often a 
a crust of anticipated tight-assed whining that we are given to expect
when we say something bluntly, or that is not "politically correct"
(trust me, THIS I know about).  It took me several times of reading it
before it occured to me that the person who was uncomfortable with your
joke, probably recognized it was a joke, and was sinply expressing 
their concern about the propagation of an image of the Society (even
as a joke) that the SCA has over the years begun to shy away from.

In other words, a simple misunderstanding.  Don't take it too badly, I 
really doubt that the original author (I haven't read any of the follow-up)
meant to disregard your levity, but rather used it as a stepping stone
to a more important (to them) topic.


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