• Michael Linsin

Should You Use Humor in Your Blog Posts?

I was super excited to post my article this past week over at Smart Classroom Management. It was my 600th blog post, and I was going to celebrate by trying something different. I've always liked infusing my writing with humor. Not every article, or even most, but enough to be cognizant whenever the opportunity presented itself.

In other words, I never planned for it. If something occurred to me while writing, and struck me as funny, then I would insert it into the post. My readers seemed to appreciate it. They would often mention the humorous twist or pun or play on words in the comment section.

But it was never an important part of the actual article. I never tried to be funny. And I never wrote an article whose purpose was to make people laugh - until this week. Yep, that's right. For my 600th blog post I attempted a tongue-in-cheek list of the most annoying teacher traits.

And it backfired. Big time.

Although when I read the article aloud to teacher friends they laughed, it didn't translate to written form. It came off as meanspirited, hyper-critical, and maybe a bit too accurate. Many readers got the joke and thought it was funny.

But others did not. They saw themselves in the list, and it made them feel bad. It made them feel like their own traits were being judged by someone they trusted.

I felt horrible. I still feel horrible. Some of the comments, both in the comment section below the article and via email, made me cringe. The article wasn't at all taken in the spirit it was written. And that was my fault.

About an hour and a half after it was posted, I read the article again from a reader's perspective. And I understood. I know now why some readers felt the way they did. The article did read harsher than I intended.

The question I was faced with was "What should I do about it?" Should I leave the article alone and let ride the way it was written? Should I soften it or rewrite it? Should I craft a letter of apology, perhaps post it on Facebook? I'm still not sure what the best course of action is, but I did do something.

I deleted the whole article.

For only the second time in 12 years, I was regretful by what I wrote and decided to cut it loose. Only a small percentage of subscribers actually read the article, so it made sense to me to just make it disappear.

Now, it's important to mention that if I'd felt good about the article, if I'd felt it communicated the message I wanted, I would have stuck it out despite the pushback. I've done it many times before. But this was different. I was misunderstood because I ventured outside of my lane where I don't belong.

My humor was too harsh given the current educational climate and not appropriate for my readers. Don't get me wrong. The article itself wasn't inappropriate or offensive. Nor was it inaccurate. I just think it cut too close to the bone.

So what's the lesson: Know thyself.

I'm not a comedian or a humorist and my readers have a certain expectation of me. And I failed them. I didn't deliver on that expectation or promise to help them become better teachers. I just made them feel bad about themselves, which is the last thing I ever want to do.

So I live and learn, even after 600 articles. I'll get back on the horse this very afternoon. No trying to be cute or clever or anyone I'm not. Just a commitment to being better, smarter, and more in tune with my readers.

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