Ha Ha Only Serious

A phrase that aptly captures the flavor of much hacker discourse. Applied especially to parodies, absurdities, and ironic jokes that are both intended and perceived to contain a possibly disquieting amount of truth, or truths that are constructed on in-joke and self-parody.

(From: http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/H/ha-ha-only-serious.html)
ScottAdams' DilBert comics are the definitive example of HaHaOnlySerious.
This has the whiff of some of the transactions analyzed in "Games People Play". For those inclined to such thoughts, it might be interesting to try to highlight a class of transaction called "Games Tech-Geeks Play". While the HaHaOnlySerious can be simply a form of dry humor, it is also a great tool for putting down the suits who don't get it, maintaining what Berne would call an "I'm ok, you're not ok" existential position. The further I get into this little post, the more relevant it seems to me for explaining a lot of tech-to-non-tech-authority-figure interactions.

This saying also resembles Homer's outburst of "it's funny 'cause it's true", the saying "there's no such thing as a joke", or the older saying "many a true word is spoken in jest". Geeks like to say glib cheesy epithets, so HaHaOnlySerious fits this best.

Laughing at adversity in this way is just a sick way to accept it. As Tom Tomorrow says, Dilbert is just a tool for bosses to release angry pressure from workers in a completely safe manner.

Bread and circuses maintain the empire; vox populi. Give us potato chips and we will not revolt. (This humor brought to you by TheMan, to keep you down.) (HaHaOnlySerious?)

Laughing at adversity in this way is just a sick way to accept it. - I disagree. This is not a necessary outcome of humor. Humor often enables you to think the issues through more clearly, and that can lead to more lasting solutions to social problems. Sure, people who are denied food, sex and entertainment will quickly revolt, but only in order to get food, sex and entertainment. Once these concessions have been made, their understanding of society and hierarchies will be no better. On the other hand, it is true that a lot of what we watch, read and hear for entertainment (or worse "infotainment") is a sort of tranquillizer. -- ArneVogel

Al Franken calls this Kidding on the Square in his Lies, and the Lying Liars who Tell Them. He also points out that it's a way to get away with stating dangerous truths, a little bit like the court jester could.

In vino, veritas. (loosely, "wine brings truth")

You mean "In iocis veritas". (loosely, "many a true word is spoken in jest")
Sometimes referred to as MetaIrony.
Examples of HHOS on Wiki: TheUnixHatersHandbook, ObjectiveAdvantageOfHorses, ScienceRelatedMemeticDisorder, DihydrogenMonoxide

EditText of this page (last edited October 22, 2009) or FindPage with title or text search