As a content creator, there’s a lot to consider especially when you’re “pushing boundaries”. Maybe you like dark humour, political satire or touchy subjects, and you’re reluctant to share your content. Trust me. I understand. I’m sitting on jokes that I’m not sure about. Along the way I’ve learned a thing or two from publishing articles and videos on political satire and the state of things in Trinidad and Tobago. I’ll share what I learned. But first: context. Context is key.
In November 2023, I wrote and published a joke about some marijuana users in Trinidad. I didn’t say it was a joke and I didn’t say “some” marijuana users. In the interest of a fast-paced video I cut lines that would have provided context. A mistake? Perhaps. I was willing to take the risk. On Tik Tok and Facebook, some “users”… I don’t know what’s the right word, but some “users” blazed up the comment section.
It’s January 2023. Attacks continue to trickle in. In Trinidad, it’s illegal to smoke marijuana in public places. Despite what you may witness at rivers, beaches and on pavements, it remains illegal. Authorities seem unbothered. Civilians too. At Caura River, I’ve sat next to men and women who’ve casually fired up arthritic-looking joints. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me. And it doesn’t look like it bothers nearby children and drinkers. Which is weird given the dangers of secondhand marijuana smoke to children. I’m not here to expand on those dangers. I’m here to talk about how, as a content creator, I saw an opportunity to write a joke, and create a video, and the lessons I learned from the experience. Here’s the joke.
It feels like everywhere you go in Trinidad you're surrounded by people who have no regard for other people. They're cussing, littering, smoking weed in public. Weed smokers are the worst. They have no regard for secondhand smoke and children. You'd almost think it was legal to smoke weed in public. Recently I went to Caura River with my family. As soon as you come out of the car all you could smell is weed, and curry. There's a part of you that isn't sure if to stay or leave, but you tell yourself you're a law-abiding citizen and you deserve to be there, so you stay. You tell your children to "man up" and you tell your wife to "man up and focus on how the curry smelling." The following week we went to Clifton Hill Beach in Point Fortin. As soon as you come out the car all you could smell is weed... and KFC. There were teenagers smoking weed; I saw a pregnant woman smoking weed; a man was on the beach flying his kite and smoking weed. Should I leave or should I go? Nah, man, I have a right to be here. So, I sat in the midst of all the cussing and marijuana smoke, and contemplated the future of Trinidad. Then we got up, and I started staggering towards the water with my daughters. Pointed at the sky and said, "Hear this nah, man, I high, you know, like that f'in kite." And the four-year-old looked at me in disbelief and said, "Me too, Daddy."
If you read the joke and watched the video you’ll realise that key parts are missing from the video. And because of subsequent edits parts of the original joke are missing.
Buckle up. I’m going to attempt to take you to a place where a lot of things don’t make sense. Inside my head. The joke is really about how people show little regard for others. Whether they’re a drinker, smoker, marijuana user, or swear willy-nilly in public. In the end, the father curses in front of the child. This is key. The father isn’t smoking marijuana in public but when he curses, he shows no regard to others and his children.
In the interest of keeping the video under one minute, I omitted important lines. Therefore the joke lacked context. In the video, I didn’t say some marijuana smokers. I said marijuana smokers are the worst. It was a blanket attack on “all” marijuana smokers instead of smokers who disregard the law.
Context is key. Without providing context a segment of the audience (particularly on TikTok) misinterpreted and responded negatively. It’s important to frame your content to avoid misunderstandings. Hopefully, I’ve learned.
Understand your audience. As weird as this sounds, different platforms attract different audiences. My YouTube subscribers know and understand me. Tik Tok is the Wild West. Don’t expect your content to have the same impact everywhere.
Consider the consequences. Before you hit publish, consider the consequences. In the same breath don’t let negative comments dissuade you. Learn. Adjust, if required. Publish. Repeat.