Making Fun of Things is Easy

Mak­ing fun of things is ac­tu­ally re­ally easy if you try even a lit­tle bit. Nearly any­thing can be made fun of, and in prac­tice nearly any­thing is made fun of. This is con­cern­ing for sev­eral rea­sons.

First, if you are try­ing to do some­thing, whether or not peo­ple are mak­ing fun of it is not nec­es­sar­ily a good sig­nal as to whether or not it’s ac­tu­ally good. A lot of good things get made fun of. A lot of bad things get made fun of. Thus, whether or not some­thing gets made fun of is not nec­es­sar­ily a good in­di­ca­tor of whether or not it’s ac­tu­ally good.[1] Op­ti­mally, only bad things would get made fun of, mak­ing it easy to de­ter­mine what is good and bad—but this doesn’t ap­pear to be the case.

Se­cond, if you want to make some­thing sound bad, it’s re­ally easy. If you don’t be­lieve this, just take a poli­ti­cian or or­ga­ni­za­tion that you like and search for some crit­i­cism of it. It should gen­er­ally be triv­ial to find peo­ple that are mak­ing fun of it for rea­sons that would sound com­pel­ling to a ca­sual ob­server—even if those rea­sons aren’t ac­tu­ally good. But a ca­sual ob­server doesn’t know that and thus can eas­ily be fooled.[2]

Fur­ther, the fact that it’s easy to make fun of things makes it so that a clever per­son can find them­selves un­nec­es­sar­ily con­temp­tu­ous of any­thing and ev­ery­thing. This sort of pre­ma­ture cyn­i­cism tends to be a failure mode I’ve no­ticed in many oth­er­wise very in­tel­li­gent peo­ple. Find­ing faults with things is pretty triv­ial, but you can quickly go from “it’s easy to find faults with ev­ery­thing” to “ev­ery­thing is bad.” This tends to be an un­de­sir­able mode of think­ing—even if true, it’s not par­tic­u­larly helpful.

[1] Whether or not some­thing gets made fun of by the right peo­ple is a bet­ter in­di­ca­tor. That said, if you know who the right peo­ple are you usu­ally have ac­cess to much more re­li­able meth­ods.

[2] If you’re still not con­vinced, take a poli­ti­cian or or­ga­ni­za­tion that you do like and re­ally truly try to write an ar­gu­ment against that poli­ti­cian or or­ga­ni­za­tion. Note that this might ac­tu­ally change your opinion, so be warned.