The Phenomenon of "Silly"

Silliness abounds like a horde of fire ants nesting atop a mahogany tree. They are often expressed through words. Some have the effect of injecting rabid humor, contextual at its best and spontaneous. And some fall flat and become plain silly and unfortunately, unfunny.

Oftentimes and as I have observed them, when the rich and the powerful tell jokes in a party those who hang by the threads of these people's success are inclined to ensure that they bring along their customary "Haha, that's really funny!" laugh.

But that's not always the case.

On the Internet, plain and simple "silliness" with no element of humor is simply ignored. They are relegated to that constipated country of unwanted memes floating around consuming valuable bandwidth.

Yet the Internet thrives on silliness

Misconstrued, misunderstood and unfortunately perpetuated by everyone, silliness is a prime commodity on the Internet. As a freelance writer, I am inclined to perpetuate this phenomenon on a specific realm.

I play with words and see how people react to them and what I've discovered having written for many years on the Internet is not at all encouraging.

People take verbal and even action from "serious silliness". That's the sort of silliness that evokes feelings of anger, sorrow and shock.

This brings me to the next question: How long can the Internet sustain its power to shock, anger and make us sad?

A few days ago on YouTube, I somehow chanced upon one of the greatest cataclysms of our time. The 2004 Tsunami  (Wikipedia). I've forgotten about it and relegated it to the lower levels of my consciousness along with petabytes of other information.

230,000 people died that time.

Numbers have a profound effect on our minds. The bigger the number, the more we pay attention to somebody, some event or some matter.

Take for instance, what if I wrote as a blog title that

  • I won $1,000,000 in the powerball lottery and I'm giving it away.
  • I won $10 online in a logo design contest and I want to share half of it.
Which would you click on?

To further illustrate, compare:

  1. 1 person read my blog today. 
  2. 1,000,000 people read my blog today. 
Marketers and advertisers know fully well the significance of the difference. It is a quantifiable one that can be translated into value oftentimes expressed in real world currency.

On the other hand, compare this:
  1. 1 "regular" person got murdered today somewhere.
  2. 1,000,000 died today because of an accident.
Here, the thought process becomes more complicated. Issues of morality, spirituality, justice, right and wrong come into play. The debate of whether one life matters more against a million is brought into the discussion. Think beyond the debate. "Value" becomes part of this debate.

Back to silliness

In pseudo-mathematical form. The currency of the Internet relies on silliness.

More silly/shocking = More page views = More sales or subscriptions = More revenue

With the additional iteration that this "more silly / more shocking piece" is delivered by someone who is trustworthy or experienced in the particular field.

With that out of the way, let's ponder on this last thought: will there ever be a time when we would no longer be surprised by the silliness of things / people / events online?