If you are like me, you spend an embarrassing amount of time on Gchat, the messenger embedded within Google’s widely popular email application called “Gmail”. Perhaps you’re familiar?
At any given moment I’m knee-deep in conversations with at least five different people, discussing all things mundane, hilarious, grave and deep. Links fly around like toy airplanes. Emoticons reign supreme. Many relationships are both fostered and destroyed using this little app and its adverse effect on worker productivity has yet to be measured—and that’s probably a good thing. I’d actually be very interested to see if there’s a global surge in sales or customer solutions during the brief periods of time the service shuts down.
Yes, I’m an addict. I know the constant contact is ultimately unhealthy but I just can’t stop. However, the bottom line is that I’m 30, It’s a part of my life, and I’m just too scared to quit. However, like all things, Gchat has its limitations with regards to expressing oneself in a more complex and acerbic fashion.
That said, I’d like point out a nice little tweak I’ve only recently discovered in this White Lightning of Internet correspondence:
THE SARCASM FONT. I’ll explain.
One thing we’ve learned as a society through the advent of the text and web-based messaging is that inflection and tone are of more often than not difficult to convey using purely text as a medium. An Example:
Now, if this were a phone call, it would have been clear that this was, in fact, not my desired activity for the day. I would have conveyed this by stressing key terms in my response and the picture would have come across crystal clear. But not to worry, there is now a way to be a snarky jerk without setting foot outside the comfort of Gmail!
By placing underscores before and after a desired word or phase, the word becomes italicized, and everyone knows that this is how to be sarcastic in text form (i.e. _everyone_). Observe:
Bam! Problem solved, and all it took was writing “_sure_” and “_awesome_”. What’s great here is the fact that I still haven’t formally declined my friend’s request. In fact, I’d most likely grant him the favor, but now we’re at least on the same page and he is well aware of the fact that he will soon be indebted to me as a result of my willingness to tag along.
Let’s take a look at another example. This one actually occurred in real-time as I wrote this piece:
In this case, my buddy Justin employed yet another Gmail tweak, the use of bold text. This is executed by placing asterisks before an after a word, (i.e. *awesome*). As a Level Four Snarkmonger, Justin is well versed in the subtle art of verbal sparring. In this case, were the sarcasm font not employed, it would seem like a boring interplay of positive affirmations. And who wants that?
Ultimately, the sarcasm font can really change the landscape of your online presence, so please proceed with caution. For those newly initiated to the dark art of cutting down your friends and loved ones as a means of expressing guarded affection, I’d suggest that you play around with this tool in a safe, contained environment before entering the ring with a new love interest or an elderly parent. Sarcasm from afar is a high stakes game, and if it’s botched, it can be difficult to make an easy fix. It’s quite remarkable how much a subtle slant to normally upright text can transform an otherwise innocuous statement into a precise, well-timed jab. But hey, don’t take my word for it…
I’m sure you can find out for yourself.