Monday, October 25, 2010

Insert sarcasm

When asked about what is the lowest form of humour, a lot of people would say sarcasm. I personally do not think that sarcasm is the lowest form; a good pun will alienate you from your audience and a bad pun will do worse for your chances at being citizen of the year than being pro climate change. Yes I know that was so funny.

This is my point, that last sentence was sarcastic, but how clear was it? Sarcasm is lost in writing because it is so hard to translate to an audience what the intention was. A good writer can do this, the rest of us struggle. Are you being cheeky or are you an idiot? Generally you are doing both, but it is hard to tell.

There are two types of people for which sarcasm is lost; drunks and Germans. Germans do not laugh in awkward situations and they are way too sensible with their Inspector Rex and the like to be concerned with sarcasm. Drunks on the other hand are lost to everything. Like balance, small motor skills, where they left their phone, a sense of hygiene (I know that meat has been sitting on the barbeque for the last six hours, but I’m going to eat it anyway without washing my hands). So it is no surprise when your sarcastic comment returns you a punch in the face.

Throughout history different punctuation marks have been proposed to indicate sarcasm. There were backward question marks, ~ tilde, /s, exclamation marks in brackets and sometimes upside down. Instant messaging and texting has recently given us a rolling eye emoticon, but in any other situation they are tacky and lost on people over the age of 35. If I was to use any of the above symbols in the first paragraph, there will still be misreads, misinterpretations, and people missing the point. None of them work because they are unknown.

What we need is a special way to alter the font; something like underlining or italics. Something people on the internet can take and run with, because that is how it will become popular and identifiable. Take an internet memes for example, how long has “lol” been around for? We all know what it means now and it took millions of people on the internet to make it possible. That is the key – get it started on the internet and it will spread like the plague.

No comments:

Post a Comment