A well executed inside joke can be a beautiful thing, but I often find that most people don't really get the true purpose of the device. Inside jokes are meant to breed a sense of community, not celebrate the exclusion of those not "in the know". That is why I simply don't understand why people constantly use the term incorrectly or attempt to misappropriate the inside jokes of others. An inside joke is essentially one whose humor is only truly understood by those within the group the joke was intended for. To those outside of the group, which can range from a social clique to an occupation, the humor of the joke doesn't make any sense. Because of this, it's completely wasted on "outsiders". This means, that without the clique or community group, THERE IS NO INSIDE JOKE. You wouldn't believe how often I hear people spouting off inside jokes when they know full well that they're the only ones within the situation that get it. The simple futility of this behavior annoys me to no end. But this isn't even the worst infraction.
Every once in a while, you'll catch someone misappropriating someone else's inside joke without any of the context of someone on the inside of said joke. Now this behavior doesn't even annoy me. To be honest, it just leaves me completely dumbfounded. Why on earth would someone who has no idea why something is funny try to celebrate its humor? It's not like faking their way into the group they're trying to appeal to is going to go unnoticed. That's the beauty of an inside joke. You're either a part of it or you're not. And when you're not, it never comes off as authentic.
Recently I witnessed someone who not only stole someone else's inside joke, but then turned right around and posted it on a site for an audience who had even less context for the joke than they did. Now if the first example I gave annoys me and the second example leaves me dumbfounded, how do you think I felt after this perfect storm? I'm going to go with annoyingly dumbfounded. I really don't understand what was going through this person's head. I mean, its weird enough if you inadvertently bring up an inside joke to someone and then they immediately attempt to adopt it to pretend like they're apart of it. But turning around blasting it out to complete strangers, while even referencing that no one is going to get it (oh yes, I left that part out), that goes a little beyond weird.
Then again, who am I to judge. I'm probably just another outsider, looking in.
posted by Christopher Schnese