Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I'm serious. No, really¡

Babble on.

My Chief Ottawa Correspondent (Sabu, Mighty Hunter of the Narwhal) has planted his razor-edged tongue most firmly in his ample cheek and directed my attention to an article in yesterday's Slate:

Believe it or not, the world we've landed in is not only more image-obsessed than we've ever seen. It's also more text-based than ever. We finger-type and we thumb-type. We e-mail, we IM, we blog. And the forms cannot contain the content. There's a dastardly disconnect. Among other things, it makes Dave Barry columns somewhat difficult to read. Someone must step into the sarcasm chasm¡

I'm serious¡ See, there are people who are relentlessly sincere. So, what are they supposed to do when they're trying to sound a bit bitter? Suppose you're IM'ing that oft-earnest friend you have, and he writes: "I need to go to church tomorrow and confess the jealousy in my heart." You forget — have you ever heard him say nice things about God or do the opposite? "Wait … do you really?" "Sorry. I mean, I need to go to church tomorrow¡ To confess my jealousy¡ And the fact that I just renewed my subscription to Maxim¡" "Oh. Me too. Only as a Jew, I must do these things in synagogue¡"


Now, is it just me, or does this ruin the gag? Ambiguity is a highly underrated quality in the art of writing. If I have to tell you I'm being sarcastic, either you don't know me very well, or I'm using the sarcasm inappropriately, or you're a dolt who wouldn't get it anyhow. Besides, we've already got punctuation that lets people in on kidding-around in situations where it might not be clear. In those odd cases where I'm joking about something serious, or where I'm writing someone who doesn't already know I'm an acid-tongued jerk, I end with either a winky-face ;) or a just-kidding j/k.

Besides, I can't imagine reading Alan at Occam's Carbuncle with an infestation of pestilent little ¡'s littered around the blog. It would lose that intimate ambiance we've come to know and cherish¡

Aaaack! I'm infected! Call Dr. Monger before it's too late...¡

Babble off.

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