Sarcasm: Font or Symbol?

The Radicati Group, in its April 2009 estimate, concluded that some 29.4 billion legitimate emails (not spam or virus) are sent per day. The The CTIA’s Semi-Annual Wireless Industry Survey estimated in 2009 that approximately 4.1 billion text messages were sent every day in that year. Every day. That’s a lot of text-based communication happening! This doesn’t even touch upon other forms of typed communiqué such as instant messages, nor does it tell us current figures for 2013. And still the mind boggles!

My most recent scientific study suggests that approximately 100% of you reading this article right now are doing so via digital medium—and that’s fantastic! The future is a beautiful thing. But sometimes the rate of progress is incongruent with the need for it. I’m talking, of course, of the pressing need to establish an indication of sarcasm in our increasingly digital world. You know, the important issues.

Some ideas have been floating around lately (and not so lately) of pushing for a sarcasm font or mark to indicate the tone and intention of the writer in text-based spaces. The Next Web’s Drew Olanoff writes of the creators of a “Sarcastic Font” which is essentially reverse-slanted italics.

Paul Sak also has a solution (which he’s copyrighted and patented): the SarcMark.

I think both of these are heading in the right direction. So many times, tone and intention are mis-communicated in online and digital spaces. Feelings are trampled, honor is lost and a slew of unnecessary throw-downs occur due to this confusion (scientific data pending).

The way we communicate is changing. The people we communicate with are changing. We’re crossing cultures and countries. Marks like italics, bold, periods, exclamation points and question marks are universally recognized. It might be the right time to introduce a platform for sarcasm. Which do you prefer? A type treatment or simple punctuation mark to set off your sarcasm?



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