Thursday, August 11, 2011
The Irony Alert System!
The thing we forget when we rely on text-based communication is how important body language truly is. With no physical cues or vocal inflections to go by, the raw expression of words paired with our often-poor grasp of grammar can have an unintended impact.
Also, the reconnecting of people over Facebook has it’s own challenges. The people from earlier in your life knew you when you were happy-go-lucky (or as much as you were going to be), before you were beaten repeatedly by fate. They simply aren't used to the sardonic you and, unlike when you were in high school, they now take what you say seriously.
Sarcasm is our gift as English speakers, as most of the rest of the world takes things at face value. I once had to explain it to two Swedish women, but even with the help of another American, I couldn’t explain why something like the Onion was funny, they just saw it as being mean, yet I've rarely been prouder to be an American.
So I created the Irony Alert System, a way to gauge the sincerity of statements, based on the Terror Alert System. Attach it to any blogpost, tweet, status update, or comment. It's an attempt to create more understanding, arguments will continue unabated, but maybe we'll get pissed about the right things.
Red: Irony: using words to suggest the opposite of their literal meaning! I am full-on fucking with you and pulling your metaphoric leg. I don't actually mean a syllable of what I'm saying. This should go without saying, but I'm going to anyway.
On the other end is blue for sincerity. I realize that green is the color on the other side of Terror Alert System, but for me, blue just seemed more apt for the tone; true blue! More earnest than Bono and Jim Varney put together! What I am typing is being dictated from my VERY SOUL! Therefore, all basic rules regarding grammar, punctuation, and over-capitalization will be pushed aside.
Orange: Despite the overall sardonic tone, there’s at least a hint of genuine emotion. To use a personal example: I tweeted a month after the earthquake in Japan whether it was cool to play the song “Radiation Vibe” in front of people yet. Although I was kidding mostly, people don’t actually come to see me play, but if some one said, “Too Soon” (and it was Irony Level Blue), I would understand. It’s the alert color that says, “Hey, I may rock, but I’m not made of stone.”
Green: Discourse on the internet is like a big bottle of snark juice. You can drain it and fill it with sincerity, but you’ll still taste a bit of snark. That’s what the green irony level is all about.
And right in the middle is yellow, the color of yielding. Yielding gets a bad rap these days, but it’s what keep us out of accidents and not just in cars. The yellow alert is wisdom and maturity working together to strike a balance between sincerity and irony. I don’t expect this color to be used all that much.