I was at a friend's house last night and she went into some long story about how mothers like us ought to have a practice child that we could bring up, and make all our parenting mistakes on, and then chuck them away. It was an elaborate skit that she just improvised, and her husband came into the garden and he took it up too, and I was laughing so hard. But the reason it worked so well was because they are the kindest parents you might meet.
But there are parts of our global society where people people aren't familiar with this type of game. It's not a simple national thing, but I think the Internet has increased the chance for a horrible misunderstanding. A lot of people think the British are rude - the stupid gits.
It also happens face to face. A friend was in America and was offered a cigarette by a friend and replied, 'no, but feel free to light up another death stick'. Apparently it caused a major severance of relations. But it was simply meant as a mild tease.
There's been a big bust-up in online SF review land (I know you will be shocked by this news) over a review which began:
Just like everyone else, I am rather suspicious of hype. As soon as I hear something is the best new thing ever I start to wonder what's wrong with it. Sometimes, as in the case of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, the praise seems warranted. Far more often I want to know how the reviewer was bribed to tell me such lies.
This now notorious passage has been analysed to death along these lines (and stronger):
So what we actually have here is someone ... accusing people who don’t get paid to write reviews of taking bribes. Am I impressed? The hell I am.
Like most online spats there are a million links to pro and anti posts, handily pulled together here.
What do you think - is the mock transgressive style too risky for online? Do you do it face to face? Do people sometimes misunderstand your intentions? Do they seem po-faced wankers?