The return of the irony tag
After ten years of the net, few amongst us have yet to realize that computer networks can be a lousy communication medium. Against all the good things that we’ve gained – such as the disappearance of physical distance, traversed by very slow moving postal workers – we must stack up the losses. And top of that list is the fact that most of the delicious ambiguities of language that we enjoy in everyday life simply aren’t conveyed online.
While today’s hive-minded tech evangelists view their digital exchanges as a kind of telepathy, it’s more like a stuttering Morse Code tapped out on a keyboard where the dash key isn’t working.
So all kinds of hilarious misunderstandings ensue. Factor in the frightful earnestness and literalism of some participants, who seem to be disproportionately represented online, and huge swathes of meaning are guaranteed to go undetected.