Where are the limits of social media humor?

This week, in a training I gave to a company, one of the questions I was asked was this: where are the limits of humor on Linkedin? 

I do the extensive response to all social networks, since, despite their differences, there are limits of humor common to all.

If you're short on time, I'll summarize it in a one-minute video: 

Micro-story: Ann Winterton's "story"

In May 2002, Conservative MP Ann Winterton, at an annual rugby club dinner in the north of England, ended his speech by saying: “Let me tell you a story”: 

An Englishman, a Cuban, a Japanese and a Pakistani were on a train. The Cuban threw a cigar out the window. When asked why, Answered: “In my country, of those are kicked”. The Japanese threw a Nikon camera out of the car, Adding: “Of those in my country there are kicks”. The Englishman grabbed the Pakistani and threw him out the train window. When all the other travelers asked him about his action, Said “Of those in my country there are kicking”. 

Despite the apology, Ann Winterton lost her position in the cabinet so the Tory Lord Taylor, called a “overwhelming lack of political judgment” (The Guardian, 6 May 2002). 

I agree, this didn't happen on social media, but imagine for a moment that that "story" would have come out on Twitter instead of a train car...

Limits of Humor 1: Beliefs

Beliefs are part of our culture. They show us the right forms of behavior. The problem is that there are open beliefs, that allow debate, and others closed, who don't admit it.

  • Open beliefs: here you will find the politics, history and the science and pseudoscience group.
  • Closed beliefs: here we have religious beliefs, social media and the group made up of myths, legends and superstitions

With beliefs, especially closed ones, humor must be very well treated so as not to be offensive. Contempt for religions, gender equality, racial equity, has wreaked havoc on history, he's even doing it today.

Limits of Humor 2: Hobbies

Here I mean especially sports afies, that have come to cause real conflicts arising from disrespect and through humor or satire.

With a lot of polarization, it's very difficult that humor doesn't negatively affect one of the parties. We see this reflected in football, boxing, baseball, Rugby.

This type of humor usually circulates in related groups, as Whatsapp groups, For example.

Mood formats

In addition to classic phrase or comic drawing, social media have popularized two formats that are having some success: memes and short videos popularized by Tik Tok.

Internet memes

They include humor in any type of multimedia construction. They are especially popular with mixing text and image, Videos, Gifs...

The memes that abound the most are bloppers (fake shots), Accidents, video or voice manipulations, deepfake (video manipulation using Artificial Intelligence).

Tik Tok-style videos

A new phenomenon of communication has been created around very short stories that show a great creative spirit on the part of its authors.

Humor and affinity for each social network

First of all, explain what humor is not telling jokes, publish memes or tik toks, humor is a way of seeing life and answering the questions before us.

Humor is one of our 24 strengths of character. And we use it, some more than each other, as part of our personality.

That's what I'm saying., because humor as a tone is valid on any social network and time of life. Another very different thing is to manifest humor with beliefs, Hobbies, or distribute memes. There we need to understand that each platform has its own code.

Linkedin: I start with this professional network because that's where I think it's most delicate to go beyond showing humor as part of our personality. Linkedin is more than just a meeting place between professionals, is a network where content of professional value and the development of our personal brand are key elements. In such a context, be careful with distributing content from those circulating in private places like Whatsapp.

Wondering if the publication contributes, if it helps to consolidate our brand and if it doesn't offend people interesting to us it's good advice. Recently Linkedin has incorporated its own "stories", ephemeral stories that mimic Instagram (which in turn imitated Snapchat). And the above applies also to stories

Rest of social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube may be somewhat more permissive as a place to distribute humor pieces plus ups and outs. But we must not forget that the main social networks are hybridization between the personal and the professional.

There is some cross-network cross-section, and that means that many people who follow you on one network will look for you in others to connect there too. I recognize that I'm much lighter with Instagram stories than with my posts on Linkedin or Twitter, but I think there are codes supported.

Instant messaging: Messenger, Whatsapp, Telegram... This is the paradise of humor in all its forms, the softest and the most rupturistic with beliefs. We could say that there is no limit here. But there is.

Let's not forget that many professionals use mobile devices provided by their organization, and in a case like this, it is best to stick to professional use.

Ann Winterton's case is replicated every day outside and inside social media. Counting up 10 before publishing I would save a lot of jobs, many lives. Happy week!

Stock Photos from Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock


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3 thoughts on "Where are the limits of social media humor?”

  1. Good afternoon, Guillem

    What a good post again to say by the way and I'm of course left with the detail towards the end “count up 10 before publishing” and another is that except in circles of trust ( friendship or family) try not to bring it up on politics, religion or sport provokes certain rivalry and what can start with a comment can just trigger a squably; so you better abstain not? it's my opinion.

    Also to say that I'm not to make the joke to make, let alone with problems as serious as a health and economic crisis. It's also true that humor is a feature I've been working on for a long time to turn it into strength alongside my responsibility, Commitment, and seriousness.

    A hug,

    • Thanks again, Mirka. We can distinguish treating things with humor, understood as a positive attitude and use humor in inappropriate contexts. The case of the MEMBER I refer to in the post is a “skated” Evident. There are jokes that it's best not to tell if you have a charge of responsibility. You'll tell me how your journey is going to incorporate humor as a fortress.
      A hug,


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