There’s so much content in this modern world. Readers are bombarded with thousands of links every day via Twitter, Facebook, and people running up to them on the street and yelling very long URLs directly into their faces. You want to keep up, but there’s no time to actually read them. So you often wonder, “Is this a joke?” or “They have to be kidding, right?” Not only to yourself, but publicly, on your social media accounts, instead of investigating further. Or you just assume every post is serious after half-reading it, start a hashtag campaign, and see how that goes.

The point is, it’s hard to tell what’s what these days.

But there’s no need to feel uncertain in this case, because we’re telling you up front that this post is satire. It’s clearly labeled, and is not sincere. Don’t take it seriously. It’s tongue in cheek. Just kick back and enjoy the laughs.

At this juncture, there’s an escalation: a variation on the initial argument or theme that’s intended to heighten the joke. Don’t get even angrier about it, because it continues not to be real. It wasn’t real in the first two paragraphs, and it’s still not real now. Assume that everything else on this page is satire. Every word, every comma, every use of “literally” as if it means “not literally.”

This post, which is satirical, mimics the style of an existing non-satirical type of article, TV show, nutrition label, or other form of expression. A seasoned reader will understand from certain cues that the words are meant to make you laugh. The author may have a point, too, but really good satire should have enough faith in the audience to wink at them without explicitly stating a message. And, in case you’re just joining us: this post is really good satire. It’s not earnest. So don’t believe it.

If this post appears to be a news story, do not share it and express your outrage. You might look silly. It’s made up. If it appears to be an opinion column, try not to argue with the author. You might find that you have egg on your face. He never truly believed what he seems to be arguing. He does not really think society is less liberal now than it was in the early 1990s because back then we all just took for granted that Paula Abdul was dating a cat. But, hey, remember that video?

On the other hand: If this post is clearly labeled satire and is satire, but the whole post is commanding you not to take it seriously, is it therefore not satire at all? Is it the gravest thing you’ve ever read in your life? Has it transformed the rest of your days up until now into satire, even the night you met Sara, or the moment when you first held your newborn son? What even is satire? What is anything? Who are you? What is the self? Is all existence one big cosmic joke?

Yes, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.