An Open Letter to People Who Don’t Approve of “Shitposting”

An Open Letter to People Who Don’t Approve of “Shitposting”

Allow me, if you will, to open with a quote: ?I will face God and walk backwards into Hell.? In past years, people all over the Internet have wondered where this quote originated. Is it some forgotten piece of text from a Shakespearean play? Perhaps it is a quote from a philosopher of old, or a notorious criminal on death row? Simply put, it is from none of those sources. Instead it is from a tweet made by the account @dril on May 22, 2012. And the full text of the quote, ?If the zoo bans me for hollering at the animals I will face God and walk backwards into Hell.?

This sums up the style of humor on the Internet known as shitposting.

Shitposting has no real emphasis on subtlety or intelligence in the punch line. Jokes made in this style usually deal with situations that cannot be deemed logical or rational. It is funny for the sake of funny. So, seeing how it is just simpleminded Internet humor, one would think that there is no real problem with it.

Image for postSomeone not getting the joke

However, much like with anything to do with comedy, there are the critics. You have the oh-so brilliant idea that this particular style of humor is somehow inferior to others because of its nonsensical topics and situations. Graphs made by Reddit user u/godlikesme, and posted to the Subreddit r/DataisBeautiful shows the percentage of users who downvoted content posted to the top 50 default and non-default Subreddits from November 11, 2015 to June 12, 2015. This data collected users downvoting submitted threads that were considered shitposts. Others believe that it is a pathetic cry for attention from the comics who post in this style, for jokes will often be written with the poster involved in the situation in some way. You have even gone as far as telling others that it should not be laughed at or enjoyed.

Obviously fun is not in your vocabularies.

Image for postr/Dataisbeautiful?s user u/godlikesme shows the amount of hate towards shitposts in the top fifty default subreddits

One of the first retorts I can think to give, especially the extreme ones who want to control what people find funny, is that humor is strictly subjective. People have varying opinions as to what they find funny or not. Just as you may find shitposting not funny, they could find whatever you laugh at just as unfunny. Todd Philips, director of movies like ?The Hangover?, says ?comedy is so subjective. You could be in a room with 400 people laughing at a joke and you could just not think it?s funny. You?re just sitting there like, ?Am I in the twilight zone? Why is everyone laughing?? It?s such a personal thing. People have such a personal visceral response to comedy.? Really, you have no firm ground to stand on when you tell someone that they cannot like or enjoy a certain style of comedy.

Another reason I believe that you are wrong is that shitposting is not some new type of humor that just popped up within the last four or five years. Nonsensical humor has been around for as long as humans could speak. Non-sequiturs are essentially the literary equivalent of shitposting online. Even William Shakespeare used them in his plays. This scene from Hamlet, while possibly not funny from our modern point of view, describes a nonsensical exchange between Polonius and Hamlet:

?POLONIUS: If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter that I love passingwell.

HAMLET: Nay, that follows not.? (Act 2, scene 2, lines )

Believe it or not, nonsensical humor is also proven to have some positive benefits for the brain. According to ?Neural substrates of incongruity-resolution and nonsense humor?, written by a team in Switzerland nonsensical humor is helpful to a person?s incongruity-solving abilities. While the team used comics and cartoons as their basis for testing, the same idea applies to content found on the internet. All humor revolves around a punch line, which we know is an unexpected resolution to the joke. The authors tell us that if the joke itself does not make sense to its audience at first glance, it will force them to decipher it before coming back to the punch line. In fact, the authors even argue that this can convince people to perceive the joke as funnier.

As evidence of this, I would like return to @dril once more:

?20 treats = 1 snack

3 snacks = 1 meal

3 meals = Boys Daily Intake

180 Treats = Boys Daily Intake

1 Treat = 1 Goody

60 Goody?s = 1 meal?

Not only does this post perfectly fit the idea of a ?shitpost,? meaning that it revolves an absurd situation or idea, but it is also actually mathematically sound when the reader looks at again to analyze it. This creates another layer of humor to the post, and thus makes it funnier to the audience. According to the research found by this Swiss team, nonsensical humor also helps to bolster a person?s ability to think creatively as the situations and ideas presented to the reader most likely could not be found in some sort of normal writing prompt.

Image for post

The real purpose of humor is to entertain and amuse people. Despite the fact that on the surface ?shitposting? just seems like someone smashed on the keyboard and didn?t think about what they posted, it has multiple layers of humor to it that run much deeper than the surface. Most importantly of all, it?s just someone posting something on the Internet. If you do not like it there are a million different places you could go to find something that you do like. Go enjoy something that you do like instead of ruining the fun of other people please.

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