Article published in:Pragmatics, Humour and the Internet
Edited by Francisco Yus
[Internet Pragmatics 4:1] 2021
► pp. 111–130
When humour backfires
How do WhatsApp users respond to humorous profile statuses as a self-presentation strategy?
The present study stems from previous work on self-presentation in WhatsApp users’ profile status. However, its main goal is to gauge other users’ reactions to WhatsApp “humorous” statuses. In other words, do other users find statuses intended as humorous “funny”? To this purpose, the methodological approach adopted is both quantitative and qualitative. For the quantitative stage, a survey was carried out where participants were presented with eight statuses intended (as reported by their creators) to be humorous. These eight statuses represented both male and female WhatsApp users (four each) as well as different strategies to construct humour (e.g., intertextuality, wordplay, absurdity). After piloting the survey, it was launched online, and 142 participants carried it out. Findings show that humour does not always lead to the desired effect and can indeed trigger negative evaluations and/or perplexity on other interlocutors. As a result, the user’s intended self-presentation as a witty, funny individual fails to hit its target and may contribute to other users’ negative perception of their persona.
Keywords: humour, WhatsApp status, self-presentation, Spanish
Published online: 24 July 2020
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