Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Caution: Sarcasm Ahead

I want to improve my blog. So I got some advice. Here’s what I need to do:
1.      Figure out who my target audience is; and
2.      Write to them.
Well, that’ll never work. I have no idea who I’m targeting. Besides, I read once that if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.  Based on that, I’m already successful.
I’ve looked back over the last couple of years of writing to see if there’s a common denominator anywhere, but the only thing that really stands out is—yeah, you guessed it—sarcasm.  I can’t help it. It’s my spiritual gift.
But did you know not everyone thinks a gift of sarcasm is admirable?  I innocently looked it up one afternoon and found out the dictionary has no sense of humor.  Webster says sarcasm is a ‘satirical utterance that is sharp and designed to give pain.’  Then it used synonyms like scorn, insult and slur to define the word. 
I took umbrage to that point of view, and went looking for friendlier definitions.
I think there’s a place for sarcasm. It cuts to the chase by jumping over the debate and landing squarely in the conclusion. I've met a couple of people who get annoyed by that. And there is a problem that affects all of us now and then—sometimes you just can’t recognize sarcasm because it’s in written form.  Without hearing the author’s tone of voice, you can't figure out if they’re kidding.
Enter the “snark mark”.  I LOVE this idea! 
Since people have been getting bent out of shape about sarcasm for at least . . . the last two thousand years, writers have suggested all kinds of punctuation symbols to alert readers not to get their bloomers in a bunch over written hilarity. 
The best idea I read is to use punctuation in brackets. For example, if you asked me if I think sarcasm is a superior form of humor, I could respond with, “No, it’s just a superior form of intellect[!]”  See?  That’s a snarky comment with a snark mark so nobody needs to get mad about it.  Right[?]  Rhetorical question. With a snark mark.
But there's another problem with sarcasm.  You have to have the right kind of anatomy to understand it—you gotta be a girl[.]  Just kidding.  I read on Wikipedia that different parts of the brain have to work together for sarcasm to make any sense.  They even said it’s "a sophisticated understanding that may be lacking in people with brain damage." I kind of think they were being snarky when they wrote that, but I couldn’t tell for sure because they didn’t end the sentences with any brackets. 
Still, it makes me wonder if it’s a lack of sarcastic censorship that keeps me from communicating openly with others. For example, I could just stop being sarcastic[.] But that means I’d have to come right out and say exactly what I think without hiding behind irony and satire.  Well, that’s no good.  People wouldn’t just walk away wondering if I was saying they’re brain damaged. They’d know for sure.
Honestly, I don’t think I can do it. I mean, what is humor without sarcasm, really?  Boring, that’s what. And I’m beginning to think it’s best not to show your hand when you’re being sarcastic.  Leave them wondering.  Those without brain damage will be left laughing. Those with it . . . aren't my target audience.
Now that’s funny, I don’t care who you are.


Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/mallix/2528191994/

6 comments:

  1. I think your target audience is middle aged, red headed females. And I am at least one of those things.

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    1. Well, you leave yourself wide open for a display of my spiritual gift you know . . . but since I am also at least one of those things and I crack myself up even if no one else is laughing . . . welcome to my club!

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  2. I am fluent in sarcasm, apparently to the point where even good friends sometimes stop me and ask whether I was serious or not. Apparently my subtle change in dialect isn't always noticable..which can be a problem. Yet, I find sarcasm to be my go to language. It suits me.
    As for your snark mark, did you know there is actually an old archaic punctuation mark called a Snark? It is a backwards questionmark. And it was intended to be used after points of sarcasm or irony. I say revive the Snark!

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    1. I love it! I can hear the chant in my head as we speak. "Bring back the Snark! Bring back the Snark!" Maybe you need a flash card or a paddle board with a Snark on it, so when your friends play into your hands you could just hold it up and not have to explain the joke. I hate explaining my jokes. I might have to get myself a Snark paddle, too. ;)

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  3. I had some good marketing advise and that was it. Know who your target is. I was abount 60% completed on my book before I got focused on my market. I had to do plenty of re-writing to tailor it for the right person.

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    1. I'd love to publish some of my stories in a book. That's why I've been unclear about my audience. Thanks for the advice and sharing your experience. It helps to hear from people who've been there!

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