The Sarcmark… is this what we’ve come to?

I’m a big fan of punctuation – correctly used, of course. The interrobang is a favourite of mine – ‽ – which is used as a combination of the exclamation (!) and question (?) marks, when you are posing a question in an excited or disbelieving way. For years I had been using separate punctuation marks to denote my incredulity, but when I discovered the interrobang I felt richly rewarded.

However, when I first heard about the “sarcmark” – a new punctuation mark to denote sarcasm, used in the same way as a question mark denotes the preceding sentence as a question – I was more than a little dubious. At first I was convinced that it was an internet joke, a fad that would make a few people smile at the rhyming nomenclature and move along. Isn’t sarcasm supposed to be subtle in the first place?

When using the internet and browsing forums and messageboards you often see people totally missing sarcasm, since it is not particularly well represented in text form. But isn’t that part of the point? By distilling the essence of sarcasm into a single keystroke or swirl of the pen, and flagging every sarcastic sentence with it, aren’t you simply watering down the language and doing away with any subtle or scathing wit that a sarcastic comment can produce?

Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of the sarcmark at all. And then came the nail in the coffin – they’re trying to charge us for it. They’re trying to charge us to use a punctuation mark. Sure, it’s only $1.99 a year, but… this is punctuation.

Let’s hope that bad ideas like this never take off… Here, for good value, is the (equally awful) promotional video for the sarcmark:

This all seems like a really good idea. (/sarcasm)