New Study Warns Against Reading Comments on Satirical Articles

In a recent study by the American Counsel of Journalistic Psychiatry, researchers discovered a correlation between emotional stress and time spent reading comment sections on Internet articles. Readers of satirical sites, says the ACJP, are particularly prone to high blood pressure, repressed anger, and other symptoms of mental and emotional strain.

“I read this hilarious article about how a bunch of kids went to a birthday party, but took back the gifts when they found out there weren’t any party favors,” recalls Robert H. Wertzel, who took part in the study. “I mean, it was clearly satire. But all these moms in the comment section were lambasting the selfish kids who returned the gifts, and complaining about how entitled everybody is nowadays. Who ARE these people?”

Wertzel reported migraine headaches and nervous twitches lasting for several days after reading the aforementioned comments.

Other participants had similar stories. “I felt like my head was actually imploding,” one reader says about her experience after reading an article that had prompted some commenters to question the validity of an obviously made-up study and to shame The Onion for calling itself “America’s Finest News Source.”

“I don’t trust people any more,” laments an anonymous participant. “You go into the world expecting that most adults will have at least a basic grasp of sarcasm, but I now realize that’s not the case. I’m almost afraid to share these articles on Facebook. What if some of my friends don’t pick up on the satire either?”

Researchers found a much higher occurrence of negative symptoms amongst participants who, based on the results of an ACJP-devised test (Sarcasm Aptitude Test), posessed a high aptitude for sarcasm.

“Low scorers on the SAT experienced no negative effects whatsoever,” Vernon Gray, head of the ACJP’s research division, told reporters. “While we are cautioning high scorers to avoid comment sections entirely, we have found that sarcasm-deficient individuals can safely read the comments on as many articles as they wish to read.”

Gray’s recommendations are supported by a statement from Sally R. Witlis, whose scores on the SAT landed her in the eighth percentile.

“Reading and making comments is my favorite part of Internet articles,” she says. “There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world, and more people need to be upset about it.”


Open Letter to an Introvert’s Nemesis

Dear Small Talk,

You and I are through.

It’s no secret that we’ve had problems for a while now. I realize that it’s partly me; I’ve always preferred to avoid you. Still, I hung in there with you because I understood that, without you, I might occasionally come across in certain social situations as rude or snobby. One might say, perhaps, that you completed me.

But I was wrong.

Here’s the thing: even though people will tell you — especially if you’re an introvert — that Small Talk is a part of life, it’s a way to break the ice in order to begin forming a friendship with somebody, it’s not that hard because all you have to do is ask a few questions and people will magically fill in the other end of the “conversation” because people love to talk about themselves, yadda yadda yadda…well, that’s all baloney. Or bologna, if you prefer. I’ve learned a few things:

  1. When I ask questions, people look at me funny. Like, “Are you some sort of creepy stalker lady? Are you an undercover cop? Why are you asking me all these questions, dangit?” I receive one-word replies and very few questions for me to answer and it’s kind of like the times I’ve played volleyball and an unsuspecting teammate has hit the ball over to me and I let it drop to the ground with a FLUP…only this time I’m hitting the verbal volleyball and the other person is the one letting it drop. Like, “I don’t actually care if we lose, this game is boring anyway.”
  2. None of my closest friendships began with Small Talk. They blossomed out of some shared interest or experience that allowed us to connect and converse comfortably. Of course, it’s possible that my ineptitude (see Item #1) has frightened away some potential bosom friends, but I’m not taking responsibility for that. I TRIED, darn it.
  3. Small Talk does not HAVE to be a part of life. I like silence, and plenty of other people do too. That’s right, Small Talk: other people — not just me — actually prefer silence. If somebody else wants to Small Talk me, no problem, but at this point, I’m disinclined to initiate.

A time may come when minimum civility absolutely requires that Small Talk come into play, and if that happens, I will rise to the occasion and be civil. Please understand, however, that this does not mean we’re close. It just means I don’t want to actually be rude.

Lots of other people like you, of course, so I’m not worried about you. In fact, you will be much happier with those people, because they are genuinely comfortable with you — adept, even. So trust me when I tell you that this is for the best. You go your way…and I’ll go mine.


An Introvert