Monday, 5 October 2009

My newest favourite thing: sarcasm font

I really dislike emoticons – you know; those smiling, winking, laughing little faces originally constructed out of bits of punctuation. Never mind that the people using them probably had no idea of their original purpose (the semi-colon; which one’s that? Oh, you mean the winking eyes!); never mind that if you actually had something to say you wouldn’t require them; never mind that if you happen to type two pieces of punctuation next to each other on your keyboard, a little random image pops up; never mind that the people who use smiley faces never actually smile in real life; never mind that I don’t actually get what half of them are meant to represent!

Okay, so this is a favourite thing post and all I have done so far is whinge. In fact the thing that I really like is not actually here yet. However, others, like me, have recognized the need for a sarcasm font – which I think is an excellent concept. It has been noted (particularly by my American friends) that I can occasionally be somewhat sarcastic. They have obviously not met a school friend of mine, a master of the device. When a teacher was once annoyed with her constant sarcasm and asked her to stop it, she raised one eyebrow and calmly replied, “I’m not being sarcastic; I’m being facetious”. My, how we laughed.

People who don’t understand this form of humour often fall back on the Oscar Wilde quote about it being the lowest form of wit. They don’t follow through with the full sentence that it is also the highest form of intelligence. Besides, as an old article by Steve Tomkins pointed out, surely the lowest form of wit is flatulence, not sarcasm.

But a lot of what makes sarcasm work is the tone, and obviously in written communication there are no verbal clues. It can be hard to tell whether the author is sincere or sarcastic. Sticking ‘Yeah right’ at the end of everything simply negates any good work you might have done and makes you sound like a walking billboard for dire unimaginative lager. If you have to explain that it was sarcasm, it hasn't actually worked.

This can cause problems with emails and text speak (half of the time that’s simply indecipherable anyway because not only has the sender omitted verbal clues, but vowels and extraneous consonants as well, leaving you with a jumble of numbers and symbols with the odd letter thrown in to reassure you that it’s not algebra).

Hence a call for the sarcasm font, which would solve all these problems. I’m all for it and would get it permanently installed on my computer. The search for the font has its own Facebook page – we all know how I feel about anti-social networking, so let’s just focus on the Sarcastic Font Movement. They have their own website and their own manifesto, and you can join and spread the word. Most wonderful. You see, that was sincere.

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