Why I Mix Humour With Seriousness

A friend recently made the following observation about me.

I think you pretend you’re joking a lot more often than you actually are. Most people use humor this way sometimes, but I think you’re doing it as a primary strategy.

Since they were the first person who cared enough to point this out, I not only confirmed my friend’s suspicion, but explained why I behave in this manner. It goes as follows.

 It’s true that I pass myself off as joking more often than I actually am. What’s going on is on the object-level of a certain discussion or framework, I’m being serious. However, on the meta-level, I don’t necessarily believe these things. That is, I take ideas seriously, without believing them myself. It’s my experience virtually no amount of me not saying I sincerely believe something, or me saying I sincerely disbelieve something, actually causes everyone to react in a manner with them consistent with them believing me to be an honest person.
(The perception) of threatening or harmful lying causes one to reliably lose status from everyone. Harmless or non-threatening lying is usually neutral regarding one’s status with most others, and may even increase status. Being upfront and explicit about this minimizes the probability of losing status. At least, that’s my theory. Anyway, joking is the more reliable way to explicitly signal the lie one is perpetuating is non-threatening or harmless. I also have a comparative advantage in it.
People tend not to trust people who are never sincere. If I’m always joking, people will think of me as never being sincere, which would be bad for me. So, the only way to plausibly maintain I’m joking about things at the rate I do without losing in the trade-off of people not wanting to interact with me when they want a sincere interlocutor is to not be sure if I myself am joking or not. It’s my impression people will end up finding out if one is lying is not. So, to be able to credibly claim I’m not sure if I’m being serious or not, I must actually not be able to tell if I’m being serious or not. So, I try not to take myself too seriously.
 Signaling that I don’t strongly hold beliefs that would pose a threat to any of you, other things being equal, minimizes the probability any of you would harass, offend, stigmatize, dislike, hate, me, etc.
 This is a habit I unthinkingly maintain across the whole internet, although if you’d prefer, I’ll make an effort to keep my guard down here, and not pretend to be joking at all when I myself am completely serious.
Another thing is I tend to mix humour and seriousness in much of what I write. I mean, sometimes I’m trying to be intentionally funny, and sometimes I find the most natural way to write on a subject in my own voice is one which, while making serious points, also comes across as playful and/or funny to myself or others. I work on multiple semantic layers. Like, the deeper structure of my opinion is that I obviously still think, all things considered, civnat is ambijectively superior to ethnat, or at least the arguments for ethnat I’ve seen so far aren’t sufficient to change my mind. The humour in my writing exists for social purposes, like indicating that just because I have some non-trivial (even if practically meaningless) disagreements with friends over politics doesn’t mean I think any less of them as people, or that I otherwise intend to treat them with less friendliness in future interactions.

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