Remember like 14 years ago? We were all so innocent then. A new President Bush had just discovered secret proof that we were about to discover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. A new housing market was revitalizing American cities by adding value to what people owned already. A new kind of publication, the blog, invigorated public discourse with its jaunty tone and periodic slander. Everything seemed fresh and exciting, which is weird, because 2003 is actually old. There’s just no way to argue that it’s still happening now. Yet one cannot ignore the feeling that we remain mired in the last decade: fighting the same wars, smugly denouncing a president who could only appeal to idiots, and putting skulls on everything. Today is Friday, and everything old is not so much new again as stubbornly still here. Won’t you survey the leftovers with me?
The good people at the Michigan-based company Sarcasm, Inc. have invented something called the “sarc mark,” a punctuation mark that indicates sarcasm in written correspondence. For only $1.99, you can download the sarc mark and use it in your emails, text messages and Facebook status updates, so that people will finally stop thinking you’re so glad your flight got delayed. The problem of conveying irony in text can be especially vexing, as anyone whose girlfriend has an attachment disorder will attest. We have a tendency, when we are hastily tapping out half-funny text messages at red lights, to simply transcribe what we would say in speech, and our sarcastic speech is augmented by tone of voice, rolling eyes, the jerkoff motion and other flourishes that keyboards don’t have. That being said, a punctuation mark that indicates sarcasm is an awful idea. At best, it will point out at the end of each sentence what dicks we all are. At worst, it will gradually destroy our ability to think. Normally I’m happy to pay $1.99 for that service (episode of Jersey Shore on iTunes) but dammit, some things are sacred, and the western tradition of written irony is one of them.