Be honest. How many of you have opened up Facebook first thing in the morning, looked at the first post in your feed and immediately closed the window with a sigh, saying, "I don't have the patience for this stupid shit already"? Or maybe you were in a good mood to begin with, posting jokes and having fun, and then one person responded with something so stupid, you'd swear they were putting on an act just to fuck with you.
The problem is, I don't think that the majority of those people are intentionally trying to piss us off. They just don't realize that when they're trying to be funny or interesting, there are certain things they can do that automatically make us wish they were someplace that's a lot more on fire than their current location. Things like ...
Sounds Like ...
"When I think about how dumb I was as a teenager, I wish I could travel back in time and kick my own ass!"
"Actually, if you traveled back in time and encountered yourself, the space-time continuum and the universe itself would collapse."
I'm not talking about all uses of the word "actually" here, I'm talking about when people use it in response to a statement that's clearly meant as a joke. This comes from people who always feel like they have to have the last word, or otherwise "top" what you just said.
"Oh, that is precious. Actually, if those three religious fellows were in England, they'd be in a pub, not a bar."
Why People Do It
I once made a joke about how I'd rather be shot into the core of the sun than watch a full season of anything written by Joss Whedon. It was a quick jab at a group of my friends who would bottle the air if they knew it contained one of his farts. What I got in response was a complete stranger butting in with "Actually, you'd never make it to the center of the sun because the temperature of its atmosphere is 300 times hotter than the surface. You'd disintegrate long before you got there."
Hey, I have to give him this much: His knowledge of high school science trivia must have worked, because I didn't shoot myself into the core of the sun. Of course, he didn't have any ill intentions when he butted into the conversation. He had this fact collecting dust in his head, and when he heard me make fun of something he liked, using that analogy, he saw his opportunity and took it.
Seriously, don't go there. The sun is not for humans to visit.
In my experience, I've found that people do this for two reasons: 1) They really, really want to use some otherwise useless fact. It's the hanging curve with the bases loaded that a batter has been waiting on his entire career. 2) They think that adding a level of complexity and "correctness" to a joke makes it somehow funnier. Like they're somehow crushing the joke and making it invalid in hindsight. But in both cases, there's at least a little bit of "Look how incredibly smart I am" that makes you just want to punch their head until hats stop fitting them.
Why We Hate It
If you're one of these people, I desperately need you to understand something: It doesn't make the original joke even slightly funnier. In fact, it sucks all the humor completely out of the conversation, because now everyone is trying to figure out if you have a legitimate medical problem that prevents you from understanding how humans work.
"I'm sorry, it turns out you're extraordinarily stupid. We'll have to remove your entire head."
It comes across as you being an unfunny know-it-all cock, regardless of whether or not everyone in the conversation already knew the fact that you decided to jam into the gears of a smoothly running joke. The best jokes are worded very specifically to elicit the biggest reactions. Obviously, if you start adding amendments and asterisks to a simple throwaway one-liner, you sound like you've never fucking spoken to a human before. And when you cut it down to its roots, "actually" is just the short way of saying "You don't know what the fuck you're talking about, but I do because I'm smarter than you. Allow me to correct your obviously uneducated bullshit."
It's why you spend the first eight years of school being the only kid who can tell who each student is by the smell of their knuckles.
Sounds Like ...
"Oh my God, if I hear one more person quote that stupid fucking 'Call Me Maybe' song, I'm going to punch them right where their dick is!"
"That is crazy. You should calm down maybe."
Some of you, upon reading about my disdain for the word "actually," went down into the comments section and typed a reply that began with it. Many of you, even after reading this point, will still do it. It's an impulse that's almost impossible to resist -- especially if you're on the Net, safely out of foot-to-crotch distance.
The reason I know that people will still do it is because I watch it happen literally every time someone talks about something they hate.
I ended up blocking 25. No, I don't care if it makes me an asshole -- it's my damn Twitter.
Why People Do It
For those who don't watch wrestling, years ago Stone Cold Steve Austin started interrupting other stars as they tried to speak by saying "What?" It was the stupidest gimmick in the history of any form of entertainment ... and it ended up becoming the biggest, most popular, most often used crowd chant in all of wrestling. The audience still chants it a fucking decade later, long after Austin left the show. Check out this video of them doing it to R-Truth as he tries to cut a promo, and listen to their reactions when he tells them to knock it off:
Even if you don't watch the video, you know what happened. They yelled it twice as loud and twice as often than they would have if he hadn't responded to them at all. The biggest reason people do it is to elicit a reaction. If they know what you hate, and they do that thing, they get your attention. R-Truth starts speaking in cadence, inserting hard pauses so they know exactly when to yell it out. Listen to them cheer when he gives them the stank eye.
When they're provoking him like that, it makes them a part of what he's doing. They become a foil. Even if it goes as far as putting them in the antagonist role, they're still a part of what he's doing because the audience is now the other half of a battle. It's all about inclusion, and it's the same principle on an individual basis. "I know you hate this, but saying it is the only way you'll notice I'm here. It's either that or throw handfuls of my shit at you ... which honestly is almost the same thing."
"Do you hate this? I bet you do."
Why We Hate It
In a nutshell, it's a predictable, no-thought means of saying "Look at me!" Given the chance to have a genuinely funny exchange with someone about the subject and show your creative side in discussing the thing that the original person is bitching about, you're instead choosing the zero-effort route. It's walking into a room, farting in everyone's faces and then offering them a high-five for how much it made you laugh ... and being genuinely shocked when they elbow you in the throat and throw you outside to vomit blood on the lawn.
Sounds Like ...
"If that guy wins the election, I'll be playing hockey and ice fishing by Thursday."
"Yeah, or moving to Canada to get away from him!"
Not every joke I make is about putting my dick in things or demanding that someone lick my asshole. Given, those are some of my favorites, but sometimes a punchline is best delivered with a touch of subtlety. Unfortunately, there are unfathomable masses who can't stand the thought of letting other people get the joke without pointing a giant, flashing, neon, cock-shaped arrow at the punchline and screaming "THIS IS WHAT THE JOKE MEANS! GET IT?!"
Why People Do It
One of my favorite things in the world is fucking with celebrities on Twitter. In fact, the night that Chris Brown ragequit and deleted his account, Ian Fortey and I had been bagging on him for being a woman-beating piece of shit pretty much nonstop for most of a full night.
I can count this as research, right?
After hours of prodding, I wrapped it up with a joke that was only subtle in the loosest sense of the term. Meaning that, no, I didn't come right out and say "Here's the punchline!" But it also didn't take much thought to get what I was referring to. Within minutes, someone jumped in to shove a volcano up the ass of even the smallest fragment of an implied insult:
The sarcastic comedian side of me immediately thought "Sincerely, thank you for finishing the joke that I just made. I just stopped at 'beating the fuck out of a dead horse,' but if I had put some thought into it, I could have taken that even further and made a reference to the highly publicized assault and battery of his girlfriend, Rihanna. I wish I had thought of that before I took the 'horse' path."
Now, don't think I'm just picking on that one person. I've since talked to him, and he's genuinely a nice guy who seems to be a good sport about me being a huge asshole and making fun of him. The point is that this happens pretty regularly. Sometimes, people do it because they didn't realize the original joke was actually making the same point without coming right out and saying it point blank. They think the original person just left it out or didn't think of the punchline that they offered in their reply. Other times, they do it because they think the original joke is just too subtle for other people to get. I mean, sure, they got the joke, but what about those other poor bastards who don't possess our nearly supernatural skill to get things? So for the good of society, they spell out the punchline so it slips by no one.
"Lower floor: Satire, parodies, cock jokes ..."
Why We Hate It
Here's the thing, and this is important: The joke is subtle for a reason. The idea of making people think for an extra second or two is the whole reason it's funny. But mostly, the reason we hate it so much is because we see it so goddamn often. Go on any message board anywhere on the Net, and no matter what group mentality or IQ level you find, you will come across one or two dumbasses who prompt another person to respond with "Yes, that was the joke. Good job."
And every time it happens, all the other readers immediately picture those people covered in bees.
Each of them with tiny little guns.