When satire goes unrecognized

Latest example resets the gullibility bar

The headline alone on Monday's post should have been enough for anyone to understand that what would follow was not meant to be taken literally or seriously:

"Press continues to ignore Apple and Google, research finds"

Honestly, now, the press is ignoring Apple and Google?

Perhaps in much the same way it ignores Lindsay Lohan and Tiger Woods. But only in that way.

A colleague and I have on a number of occasions discussed the pitfalls of writing satire; number one among them being that someone invariably misses the joke. I once satirized someone else's April Fool's joke - do not try this at home - and bamboozled a good half-dozen readers who accused me of not knowing what day it was. Great fun.

But I honestly thought this latest post would be different (see "ignore" in the headline). I was convinced that no one would even entertain the thought that I was being serious.

I was wrong.

The first commenter has a clue, but he isn't confident enough to trust his instincts: "Are you serious? MS gets 3% and Apple 15% - so clearly Apple is ignored in the press... Wow... And Google - only 11.5% - like they are almost forgotten! So being a bit slow at times, I assume this is all tongue in cheek!"

Ya think? The next fellow just whiffs, although not before trotting out the hoariest of press-bashing chestnuts: "Must be a slow news day ... or are you paid by Apple and Google to spout this rubbish ?"

It's not just satire either; attempts at humor of all stripes can discombobulate the inattentive reader. Example: On Jan. 1, 2008, I published a post with the headline: "8 can't-miss predictions for 1998."

Comment: "8 can't-miss tech predictions for - 1998? -- Am I missing something here?"

Yes, a funny bone. You are not alone.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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