About five years ago, when I contributed a post to a group blog, I had a brief email conversation with its administrator on the subject of satire. Most of the blog’s entries were thoughtful, reflective essays, but a few of them had a satirical tone. I asked how often he preferred to mix those posts in with the more serious stuff. He replied that he didn’t have such a plan because satire just showed up whenever it had a mind to; it generally didn’t take well to being put on a schedule.

The following year I started this blog, which I envisioned as having a reflective tone with a focus on exploring cultural narratives. Other topics came up as well, such as writing and creativity, decluttering, and positivity. Until now, though, it hadn’t occurred to me that there are no satirical posts on this blog. I wasn’t intentionally avoiding such entries; they just didn’t come to mind, although I had written satire on occasion in the past. I briefly wondered if I’d lost my ability to write with an eye for the absurd.
 

Eye decorated to resemble a bird's head.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)
 

I decided that wasn’t the case because I do have some rather fanciful posts here. Although they are not in the realm of satire, perhaps that’s because I have made more of an effort to avoid being overly judgmental in recent years. Satire necessarily involves some amount of judgment as to whatever is being satirized; and it’s all too easy to cross the line into mean-spirited snark and leave readers on the defensive, feeling that their beliefs and their culture have been unfairly attacked.

That’s not to say the genre always should be avoided. On the contrary, satire often serves a valuable function in pointing out what’s ridiculous about our cultural assumptions. But it also tends to make people uncomfortable because it holds up such an unflattering mirror. Because I wanted to create a blog where readers would always feel safe and welcomed, maybe I’ve been subconsciously steering clear of satire and other types of writing that might cause discomfort.

If so, I wouldn’t characterize that as either good or bad in itself. It’s just a reflection of where I happen to be at the moment. And who knows, maybe there will come a day when a satirical post just shows up and insists on being written, no matter what other plans I might have!

4 Comments

  1. Great job 🙂

  2. I completely understand where you are coming from – and agree with your analysis. I have only ever written “very light” satire, where the reader has to ‘sniff’ to smell the satire 🙂

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