The Need for a “Sarcasm Font"

Nothing is more discouraging than unappreciated sarcasm.


I wish sarcasm was available as a font.

Ok, ok.  We’ll finally just go ahead and admit it.  We’re sarcastic.  We’re very sarcastic.  We obviously have no problem writing with a sarcastic tone, probably because it is the dominant gene in our DNA.  So technically, any font we use is written in “Sartalics”.  However, it has often left us, and many others, to wonder if somebody should develop a “Sarcastic Font” for use in online communication.

Well, somebody has and it’s a left-leaning Arial font, slanting in the opposite direction of an Italic type.

We’ve never really been sure whether to be amused or annoyed by having a sarcastic comment made in writing only to be taken seriously.  We’ve always thought that part of the charm of a sarcastic remark was never quite knowing if someone was being serious or not.  That ambiguity makes reading those comments a real adventure.  In addition, we’re thinking that if people who already can’t use their own knowledge of the source’s propensity for sarcasm and come up with the answer that the author(s) is BEING sarcastic, then we are pretty sure they don’t possess the capacity to process backwards italics.

Then we realized that all of the fun would be taken out of writing if the sarcasm were so obvious, in the same way that humor isn’t really funny if you have to explain the joke.  Sarcasm becomes less effective IF YOU HAVE TO POINT IT OUT LIKE THIS.  Hell, it might even be insulting to the intelligence of your readers, if you have to announce in advance that you are being sarcastic. 

Prior to the “invention” of these backward italics, the use of a “Comic Sans” font was proposed to denote a sarcastic comment, tone and/or remark.  However, I think Comic Sans should only be used to denote sarcasm if the intended audience is not bright enough to realize that they are reading something written in Comic Sans.  Consequently, we believe a sarcasm font defeats the purpose of sarcasm in the first place.  Other suggestions have included using mock HTML tags.  Yeah, that’s a <sarcasm> GREAT </sarcasm> idea; or, using the “Snark”, also called a “Percontation Point” or the “Irony Mark” to indicate that there is another level of meaning in the sentence, usually sarcasm or irony.  However, I think the “Snark” is more of a tool for smart people to use to make stupid people feel even stupider.  Which makes it the best punctuation mark of all.

The Snark, the Percontation Point, and the Irony Mark

In one of the finest examples regarding online usage of sarcasm, we came across this brilliantly written post:

When dealing with a particularly difficult editor or situation, you will never be tempted to resort to sarcasm. But if you somehow are, that's a really great idea. Sarcasm works well in online media, because it's easy to pick up on without all of those pesky nonverbal cues. It's hard to see how the employment of sarcasm could possibly be counterproductive.

Sarcasm is especially useful in controversial debates, where a sarcastic comment often has the effect of calming the situation. Don't worry about offending people; simply appending a smiley emoticon or humorous XML tag (</sarcasm>) to your comment will assuage any hurt feelings, and doing so exempts you from the strictures of civility and good faith.

Despite the use of the above measures and your inherent, undeniable cleverness, your sarcastic remarks may still be unrecognized or unappreciated by their target audience. This should be interpreted as immediate confirmation of your superior intellect and wit, as well as a corresponding deficiency of those qualities in your audience; you should not hesitate to emphasize this, as it will enable further discussion to proceed productively. It also allows the discussion to stray away from well-known contentious issues towards the beautiful landscapes of hermeneutical disputes on the possible or indisputable subjective and objective meanings of the semantical structures used in the various contributions to the debate.

In rare cases, users have been singled out for special recognition of such demonstrated superiority.

While one could, of course, employ sarcasm from one's registered Wikipedia account, sarcasm is more effective and better appreciated if you have the fortitude to post it from an IP address.

~ Source: Wikipedia

If one isn’t clever enough to convey their snarky and sarcastic comments without some kind of special indicator, we’d really rather them just not even try in the first place.  Sarcasm doesn’t need the font equivalent of a flashing neon sign.  If it did, the writer is probably doing it wrong.  In most cases (always ours, of course) the use of sarcasm in writing is communicated perfectly fine.  It’s the dimwitted reader who poses the problem by not being able to catch on it.  As Anonymous said, “Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.

Besides, when we were looking at examples of the proposed left-leaving text, it was almost a little bit painful to read.  It looks like those words were physically trying to escape that sentence.  The visual reminded us of the scene that appears in every almost every cartoon where the characters are trying so hard to escape, that they run in place for a few seconds.  The best example of this that we could remember is Scooby Doo and Shaggy and their exit is always accompanied by that funny noise.

(On a site note:  locating that audio file online reminded me why we love the Internet so much.  You can find anything! And when you either find it, or stumble across it, the result is a radiating awesomeness so violent that the impact literally causes us to LOL, cry and/or spit out our coffee wine.)

© Two too smart, smartass mommies 2011