John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Analogy FAIL



Analogy fail.

As helpful as analogies are, they can’t be too personal or too obscure. And keep them light. For example, here’s analogy fail from several months ago I used with a couple of close friends trying to be funny.

“You know that feeling you get when you walk into your old apartment for the first time in six weeks after going to rehab and you have to remove three month old milk cartons with soured milk and clear out old pizza boxes with dried hardened pieces of rancid pizza crust that could be used as a prison shiv?”

Well, as it turned out, the answer was no. No one could relate. So what were some lessons I learned?

First rule: Too personal. Don’t assume just because you had a personal experience 27 years ago, everyone else did too and can relate to the image or feeling you are trying to recreate.

Second rule: Don’t use obscure references like “prison shiv” even if you’ve never been to prison, never plan to go, and have no plans to ever use a prison shiv and only know about them from one of your favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption.

Third rule. Know your audience. Be careful giving out dangerous ideas. The only people who would appreciate the pizza crust prison shiv reference are people who may one day be in a position to actually make and use one in prison. And then you’ll feel really stupid.


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