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Better expressing my sarcasm
March 8, 2005 6:22 PM   Subscribe

In the short time I've been Metactive, I've already had to apologize to 4 different people for not expressing my sarcasm well enough. Care to share your superior methods of sarcasm?
posted by hellbient to MetaFilter-Related at 6:22 PM (84 comments total)

and sorry this sounds like a bad AskMe question...
posted by hellbient at 6:23 PM on March 8, 2005


Unless it is very, very obviously sarcasm, some portion of whatever audience you've got will not get it. Sometimes I am part of that portion. Please, as a favor to me, refrain from sarcasm.

Thanks

Oh, and you're not capable of determining if it's obvious. (No one is.)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:28 PM on March 8, 2005


This is sarcastic, isn't it? I demand an apology!
posted by graventy at 6:33 PM on March 8, 2005


Wait, I think Kirth's post was sarcastic too. And mine! Damn you all!
posted by graventy at 6:33 PM on March 8, 2005


This has never happened to anyone before. Clean up your act.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 6:37 PM on March 8, 2005


How can you be dumb enough not to get it?
posted by Ryvar at 6:41 PM on March 8, 2005


Oh, this is going to turn out real well.

See, that was sarcasm. Or prescience, sometimes I get them confused.
posted by yhbc at 6:43 PM on March 8, 2005


Simple -- use the sarcasm tag!

on preview: Fuck.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:50 PM on March 8, 2005


Care to share your superior methods of sarcasm?

why certainly...
posted by quonsar at 6:50 PM on March 8, 2005


I like all of you and want to put butter on your hot flesh. I COULD BE SINCERE, YOU DON'T KNOW!
posted by Kleptophoria! at 6:55 PM on March 8, 2005


By definition, sarcasm is irony used with intent to hurt someone's feelings. Don't master it, avoid it.
posted by squirrel at 6:55 PM on March 8, 2005


To be serious for a second - we all struggle with this, and this is just something you're going to have to live with when wading through a text medium, especially one as snarky as this place. Until someone develops some sort of clever intonation markup, or high bandwidth becomes so ubiquitous that we can all link to .ogg files of ourselves saying any questionable line, it's just a fact of life. At least until Snowcrash's Metaverse becomes reality.
posted by Ryvar at 6:56 PM on March 8, 2005


Best. MetaTalk. Thread. Ever.
posted by wendell at 7:09 PM on March 8, 2005


Realize that people don't know you, and will only judge your post on the words in it. And that no matter how outlandish your sarcastic statement is, there is someone out there who would say it sincerely. So you can't let sarcasm stand alone and be unambiguous.

But who cares? They read your post wrong: why are you apologizing to them? Just ignore it.
posted by smackfu at 7:18 PM on March 8, 2005


I've never seen sarcasm work perfectly online. No matter how ludicrously obvious you think your sarcasm is, there's always someone who assumes you're dead serious and concludes that you're either profoundly stupid or dangerously insane.
posted by mcwetboy at 7:26 PM on March 8, 2005


don't forget evil.
posted by caddis at 7:33 PM on March 8, 2005


Just type whatever you want to type. If someone complains, tell them to FUCK OFF AND DIE! I've never done that to a fellow Metafilterian, but someday I will. Oh yes.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 7:42 PM on March 8, 2005


Ah, small foolish grasshopper. If only you were sufficiently wise and gigantic to recognize the real ultimate sarcasmotronic power of EMOTICONS!

:-}

:-p

:-/
posted by naomi at 7:54 PM on March 8, 2005


No matter what you do, I'm sure it'll turn out alright. Just so long as you don't post a stupid question on MetaTalk.
posted by underer at 7:58 PM on March 8, 2005


Sarcasm is best expressed by the written word, where one avoids the distractions of vocal inflections and facial expressions that can so easily cloud meaning. It is not used nearly enough in casual internet prose, I find.
posted by obloquy at 8:13 PM on March 8, 2005


Just stop giving a shit. Who made the mistake, them or you? Them. So, fuck 'em!
posted by Hildago at 8:16 PM on March 8, 2005


The trick to a good sarcastic post is a bit of sureality. Or pancakes, either one.
posted by delmoi at 10:12 PM on March 8, 2005


Sarcasm is a waste of bandwidth. Save it for real life.
posted by KS at 10:15 PM on March 8, 2005


People who are wronly offended by sarcasm need to be culled from the herd, no sympathy.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:44 PM on March 8, 2005


[this is sarcastic]
posted by Hands of Manos at 10:49 PM on March 8, 2005


Wait, that's sarcasm? Oh man. All this time, I've been confusing sarcasm with orgasm.

No wonder my girlfriend split.
posted by gramschmidt at 10:59 PM on March 8, 2005


Check with NickDouglas. He can help.
posted by geekyguy at 11:04 PM on March 8, 2005


What you do is, you do this.

~wink~

ALL THE TIME.

Profoundly stupid, or dangerously insane? The answer is BOTH! Muhuhahaha! Dur.
posted by furiousthought at 11:15 PM on March 8, 2005


I thought the definitive sarcasm emoticon used the famous winking semi-colon...
;-)
But then, I once had to go to the hospital because of a winking semi-colon.
posted by wendell at 11:19 PM on March 8, 2005


I love new users.

And the rest of you as well.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:36 PM on March 8, 2005


Don't do it. I have found my obviously superior use of sarcasm is often ignored or misunderstood. I have therefore come to the conclusion that MeFites are unable to understand sarcasm or indeed, most intelligent forms of humour.
posted by seanyboy at 12:19 AM on March 9, 2005


The only good reason to be sarcastic is to be funny. If you spell out the fact that you're being sarcastic it isn't funny any more. Not every comment needs to be understood by everyone. The site moves to quickly to worry.

Good question, though.
posted by nthdegx at 1:14 AM on March 9, 2005


too* quickly. I am so so sorry.
posted by nthdegx at 1:14 AM on March 9, 2005


Metafilter: you're either profoundly stupid or dangerously insane.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:38 AM on March 9, 2005


The problem for us Brits round these parts is that there are too many NAmericans who, well let's be kind about this, don't share our exceedingly and strangely developed sense of humour. [We put the 'you' in humour y'know.]

Exibit 'A' from a recent AskMe thread and exibit 'b', the response. I'll refrain from posting the hilariously overly-offended and soul-crushed e-mail I received but let's just say that I am a very, very bad person with no morals who is probably very unkind to small children with big eyes.

naomi is right. We just gotta pepper our posts with :;'/))...s otherwise the world will no doubt end. Such is life.

ashbury: I will reply. I just need to stop laughing long enough to compose my thoughts ;-)
posted by i_cola at 1:55 AM on March 9, 2005


And nthdegx is right.
posted by i_cola at 2:05 AM on March 9, 2005


I had a very nasty experience with this. In an old post about Karl Rove, which compared him to Goebbels, I wrote an extremely over-the-top comment that was absolutely dripping with sarcasm. I considered adding a /sarcasm or ;-), but figured it was so outrageous that no one in their right mind would take it seriously. And, thankfully, no one at Metafilter did. Unfortunately, a conservative columnist saw it and didn't realize it wasn't serious. (Or perhaps he did realize it was a joke, and just cynically decided to use the quote to help him prove his point.)

Either way, it was quite horrifying to see it reappear in an opinion piece by John Leo (contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report) over at Town Hall. (Third paragraph) I wrote to him and complained, and he apologized. But, of course, he left the piece as is.
posted by Ljubljana at 2:06 AM on March 9, 2005


WHISKEY! TANGO! FOXTROT!

MAYDAY! MAYDAY!
posted by loquacious at 3:03 AM on March 9, 2005


hellbient: you need to make a distinction between attempting sarcasm and doing it badly against doing it well but encountering dullards too stupid to grasp the underlying meaning of your statement. No apology is needed in the dullard case. This is just another of those cases where you have to make a value judgement about your own statements. Some guidance may be provided in MeFi in the latter case as other members point out to the dullards what was meant. If it keeps happening and no-one chimes in, perhaps the fault does lie with you.
posted by biffa at 3:19 AM on March 9, 2005


i_cola illustrates another problem - when people make a crap comment they can use the "developed sense of humour" escape route: "it's not crap, it's superior". look at the king's nice clothes.

anyway, my advice is to not make excuses, but to try and save sarcasm for cases where you want to make a strong point since, in my opinion, it works best when it's as biting as possible. if you've had to apologise 4 times already, then i think you're overusing it.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:33 AM on March 9, 2005


Obligatory:

Teen1: Oh, here comes that cannonball guy. He's cool.
Teen2: Are you being sarcastic, dude?
Teen1: I don't even know anymore.
- [3F21]
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:02 AM on March 9, 2005


The problem for us Brits round these parts is that there are too many NAmericans who, well let's be kind about this, don't share our exceedingly and strangely developed sense of humour.

Yes, Americans' inability to embrace Benny Hill is our great national disgrace.

I wouldn't worry about learning to express your sarcasm more clearly. Just start a MetaTalk thread every time someone doesn't understand you.
posted by anapestic at 5:33 AM on March 9, 2005


Sarcasm is usually corrosive and childish, doubly so online. Just drop it.
posted by LarryC at 5:34 AM on March 9, 2005


metafilter: corrosive and childish, and we like it that way, dammit!
posted by madamjujujive at 5:49 AM on March 9, 2005


thanks everyone...

[sarcasm]all1 of your answers sucked1[/sarcasm]
;—)

1denotes sarcasm.2

2also denotes sarcasm.
posted by hellbient at 5:57 AM on March 9, 2005


sorry about that everyone...
check your email for my form-apology.
posted by hellbient at 6:17 AM on March 9, 2005


Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.
posted by bondcliff at 6:23 AM on March 9, 2005


Yes, Americans' inability to embrace Benny Hill is our great national disgrace.

What? Americans are the *only* people that embrace him. Not all, most or even many, to be sure; but Americans only all the same.
posted by nthdegx at 6:39 AM on March 9, 2005


Yes, Americans' inability to embrace Benny Hill is our great national disgrace.

What? Americans are the *only* people that embrace him. Not all, most or even many, to be sure; but Americans only all the same.


Okay then: Ronnie Corbett? Dick Emory? Everything Ben Elton's done since Blackadder ended? Brit humour ain't all Chris Morris and Ricky Gervais.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:58 AM on March 9, 2005


nthdegx - sorry to break it to you, but most (well, a noticeable few) chileans, on hearing i'm english say "oh, benny hill!".
posted by andrew cooke at 7:07 AM on March 9, 2005


By definition, sarcasm is irony used with intent to hurt someone's feelings.

No, it isn't.
posted by redfoxtail at 7:12 AM on March 9, 2005


Just before this turns into a bunch of folks defending the honor (sic) of the US of against some rotten-toothed weaselly limey asshole who had the nerve to denigrate the humor (sic) of the #1-at-everything-nation, I'll just point out that I purposely wrote:

a) NAmericans - I'll include Canada so don't see it as a national disgrace anapestic

b) ...our exceedingly and strangely developed... - i.e. Benny Hill to Monkey Dust to Morcombe & Wise to Two Pints of Lager and all over the place. Not about being #1 humourists, best at it, aren't we fantastic? Let's put the emphasis on strange shall we not?

Then again, maybe I'm being even weasellier by trying to get out of it using the 'not developed sense of humo(u)r' gambit? Crivens!

-------

hellbient: Thank you so much for this thread.* It's stopping me doing some important work but who needs work when you have laughter? (And feathers...)

* Not sarcastic. Altho' I have very little idea what I know now.
posted by i_cola at 8:01 AM on March 9, 2005


I'm not being sarcastic. I just have a disease that makes me sound sarcastic.
posted by louigi at 8:09 AM on March 9, 2005


i_cola - we all know the comedy staircase goes like this -
UK
Canada
Everyone Else
United States Of America
Federal Republic of Germany

It's generally accepted* that this is the case, and although we drop the occasional clanger the sheer oddness of British humour makes it the best in the world.

*from this particular booth where I am pretending to work

/nudge, nudge, wink, wink etc. ad infinitum
posted by longbaugh at 8:24 AM on March 9, 2005


Joke 'em if they can't take a fuck.
posted by wendell at 8:39 AM on March 9, 2005


Invoke The Bono. I think it helps a whole lot.
posted by gsb at 8:39 AM on March 9, 2005


redfoxtail :
"By definition, sarcasm is irony used with intent to hurt someone's feelings.

No, it isn't."

I believe the definition was sarcastic.
posted by graventy at 9:08 AM on March 9, 2005


i_cola and naomi: Oh yeah, emoticons are the perfect solution. I'm going to start using them at the end of my sarcastic comments real soon.



Reeeeal soon.
posted by soyjoy at 9:27 AM on March 9, 2005


Soyjoy - shouldn't that read emoticians. I think theres one in the beauty parlour down the road.
posted by adamvasco at 9:36 AM on March 9, 2005


By definition, sarcasm is irony used with intent to hurt someone's feelings.

No, it isn't.


I had the same initial reaction as you, but when I looked it up, I found:
1. A cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound.
2. A form of wit that is marked by the use of sarcastic language and is intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule.
I think that perhaps sarcasm and irony are often used interchangeably when they shouldn't be. I also think that the deplorable misuse of ironic to mean things that have nothing to do with irony contributes to the problem.
posted by anapestic at 9:41 AM on March 9, 2005


Oh I get it. Blame Alanis Morissette.


Fair enough.
posted by i_cola at 9:43 AM on March 9, 2005


Ms. Morissette is only symptomatic of the problem. "Ironic" had been done in well before Jagged Little Pill by the sort of godless descriptivists who pronounce "forte" in two syllables, even in non-musical contexts.

I blame the British.
posted by anapestic at 10:02 AM on March 9, 2005


Oh my god, I can't believe you guys are being so mean to hellbient! He just asked a simple question!
posted by Specklet at 10:14 AM on March 9, 2005


I don't know of a good way to make sarcasm ring exactly right - to anyone - on the first try.

But if you do offend someone and apologize and explain it to them, then hopefully they'll hear you right next time. And as you spend time and people get to know you better, you will be better understood in general.

I guess the only advice I'd offer is to watch out for really potentially offensive stuff until people have a sense of who you are and where you're coming from.

Or resort to winkies.
posted by scarabic at 10:15 AM on March 9, 2005


I don't understand why people are ranking Canadia separately from the other fifty states.
posted by casu marzu at 10:30 AM on March 9, 2005


Specklet's definition - sarcasm is irony used with intent to create paranoia. [emphasis mine]
posted by hellbient at 11:03 AM on March 9, 2005


I'd say use sarcasm only when you're trying to be funny, not when you're trying to be funny and make a point. People who use sarcasm when trying to make a point (supporting arguments they agree with or opposing arguments they disagree with) just come off as assholes.
posted by Bugbread at 11:15 AM on March 9, 2005


Jonson is a racist.
posted by guruguy9 at 11:48 AM on March 9, 2005


I had the same initial reaction as you, but when I looked it up, I found...

Huh. Fair enough. The OED seems to think that merely being "sharp" or "bitter" will do the trick, as well, but I stand corrected.
posted by redfoxtail at 12:04 PM on March 9, 2005


;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;)
posted by y2karl at 1:45 PM on March 9, 2005


This is the best thread I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. I have learned so much in such a short time, and I feel complete now; as if a void inside me has been filled with bright sunshine.

Please, allow me to sit at your collective feet in order for you to continue to educate and edify me with your boundless knowledge.

I am truly, truly humbled and amazed.
posted by exlotuseater at 2:52 PM on March 9, 2005


THE WINKIES ARE FULL OF STARS!
posted by naomi at 3:35 PM on March 9, 2005


Metafilter: truly, truly humbled and amazed.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:15 PM on March 9, 2005


In an effort to clear up some issues, here are some definitions:

Main Entry: sar·casm
Pronunciation: 'sär-"ka-z&m
Function: noun
Etymology: French or Late Latin; French sarcasme, from Late Latin sarcasmos, from Greek sarkasmos, from sarkazein to tear flesh, bite the lips in rage, sneer, from sark-, sarx flesh; probably akin to Avestan thwar&s- to cut
a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain

Main Entry: ass·hole
Pronunciation: 'as-"(h)Ol
Function: noun
1 usually vulgar : ANUS
2 a usually vulgar : a stupid, incompetent, or detestable person b usually vulgar : a despicable place -- usually used in the phrase asshole of the universe

The former definition would indicate that sarcasm is intended to piss someone off, however I don't always use it that way. I hope people will understand my intent, and if they don't then I'll attempt to clarify. If they still don't then I'll try to make their heads explode with my mind.

The latter definition is for about 70% of the people who have posted on this topic who may not realize what they, in fact are. ASSHOLES! I say that with absolutely no sarcasm whatsoever.

posted by dr. strangelove at 5:28 PM on March 9, 2005


Well, here's how inevitable it is that sarcasm won't be universally recognized on this forum: My reply (the one way up at the top) was characterized as sarcasm, when I had absolutely no intention of being sarcastic. Obviously, sarcasm does not scan, and some here will always see it where it isn't.

Or maybe I was being sarcastic, and didn't even know it.

I just don't know.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:06 PM on March 9, 2005


Sarcasm on the internet is a very difficult voice to master. Only very skilled writers should attempt it.

It only works if you have either a) Established yourself in an internet community or b) Know the folks in the forum very well in real life.
posted by frecklefaerie at 6:15 PM on March 9, 2005


The latter definition is for about 70% of the people who have posted on this topic who may not realize what they, in fact are. ASSHOLES! I say that with absolutely no sarcasm whatsoever.
posted by dr. strangelove at 5:28 PM PST on March 9 [!]


so, out of the 60-odd posters to this thread, you say that ~42 of us are. ASSHOLES!

At least I know I'm not one. And frankly, I cannot imagine why you would say that.

I'd say the ASSHOLE! percentage is closer to 1.6%
posted by exlotuseater at 6:41 PM on March 9, 2005


Regardless of how you decide to be or not be sarcastic, I'd like to, if I may, advise against using the emoticon wink.

;-)

The translation of this wink is as follows:

I actually meant precisely what I just said to you in its meanest and least euphemistic form. However, I don't want you to call me out for being an asshole, so I've added this wink which I know protects me from public scrutiny for my remark while simultaneously infuriating the hell out of anyone who recognizes the base villainy of my having used it in the first place, especially you. Please punch me in the face if you ever meet me in person.

Seriously. The wink emoticon is the most passive-aggressive bile-filled piece of internet trash I have ever encountered.

Example:

"Yeah, you're a real child molestor.

;-) "
posted by shmegegge at 7:06 PM on March 9, 2005


exlotuseater : " I'd say the ASSHOLE! percentage is closer to 1.6%"
Hmm...an asshole would say that.
posted by graventy at 7:14 PM on March 9, 2005


graventy:

ok, closer to 3.33%
posted by exlotuseater at 7:51 PM on March 9, 2005


shmegegge sez The wink emoticon is the most passive-aggressive bile-filled piece of internet trash I have ever encountered.

Yep, I think you have perfectly identified the psychiatric motivation behind everyone on the Internets who use the wink emoticon.

;-)

:-P
posted by wendell at 8:28 PM on March 9, 2005


" just sayin' " is the new " ;-) ".

Extra credit: My previous comment was:
1) sarcastic
b) ironic
3) assy
d) all of the above, suckah!


Seriously, sarcasm translates poorly, and is overused to the point of meaninglessness. If you want to be clear, avoid it-- most especially on the web. No, really. This thread should be making that obvious by now.

Kidding! Not.
&c.
posted by obloquy at 11:22 PM on March 9, 2005


OK, so my percentages are off by about 68.4%. Sometimes I exaggerate to make my point. OK...I always do. I'll be over here, crunching some more numbers so I can try and figure this one out...
posted by dr. strangelove at 10:13 AM on March 10, 2005


dr.strangelove: it's all in good fun. I think mine are probably off, too.
posted by exlotuseater at 12:40 PM on March 10, 2005


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