For as long as I can remember, I have had an intense fear of being Edmunded. If that doesn’t make sense, it shouldn’t – because I have made the word up.
To be “Edmunded” is to be like Lucy in C.S. Lewis’ famous children’s story The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe – the victim of someone claiming you are lying for their own benefit.
Having discovered a world at the end of the wardrobe, Lucy tells her siblings about the adventure she shared with her older brother. But then she gets Edmunded:
And Edmund gave a very superior look as if he were far older than Lucy (there was really only a year’s difference) and then a little snigger and said, “Oh, yes, Lucy and I have been playing -pretending that all her story about a country in the wardrobe is true. Just for fun, of course. There’s nothing there really.”
Being misunderstood, misconstrued, and accused of lying are some of the worst sensations to me. The panic bubbles up inside and emerges as a laugh, making me look guiltier than ever. But on the internet, particularly on Twitter dot com, people seem to enjoy deliberately misconstruing one another in order to win Internet Points (£0). The greatest victim of this is the simultaneously lowest and grandest from of wit: sarcasm.
Take, for example, this smug screenshot whereby a man joking about mansplaining has been gleefully construed as an example of mansplaining itself:
To me, this man has been severely Edmunded. “This can’t be real, right? No one is that clueless – right?” says one reply to the screenshot. “Bingo!” as someone playing bingo might say. The man is clearly joking (and if you really wanted to make sure, you’d just have to take a second to check his previous tweets). I feel as though people must know this (surely, they must know this?) but are wilfully misconstruing him in order to prove some kind of point. A total Edmund move.
Which leaves me asking: what is the aim? It is clearly not to teach the man the error of his alleged ways – as being screenshotted and widely mocked doesn’t tend to inspire “Yes you’re so right, I was so wrong, many thanks” sensations in people. The aim is simply to look superior, which is made all the more annoying by the inferiority inherent in not understanding the joke in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, the “just joking” brigade of hate-speech is abhorrent and doesn’t normally deserve the benefit of the doubt (“ironic” Nazism, as I’ve written in the past, can inspire genuine copycats). But when someone is using sarcasm or irony as the Sweet Baby Jesus intended – to point out the fallacies of this tragic lil world we live in – then it is beyond frustrating to watch it be misconstrued.
We now live in a time where people are being divided right down the middle on social media into camps called “Yes, Enlightened” and “No, Very Bad”. In the world of woke, one misunderstood joke runs the risk of ruining someone’s reputation. It is therefore with a heavy heart that I must suggest an immediate worldwide implementation of a sarcasm font.
Reddit uses “/s” sure, and your grandad might use a ;-). Neither of these are enough, however, for the widespread epidemic known as People, They Are Idiots.
I want everything sarcastic to henceforth be written in that one WordArt that is all wavey and blue and great for GCSE Geography projects on the Savanna. Any time a satirical article is written, the whole thing will be bright and blue so that no one need pop over to the Facebook comment section to wish the author would be forcibly taken from their bed at dawn and shot in the face.
The future of our fragmented society relies on this, more than anything else. No political policy or party can save us if we are not willing to save ourselves. There is no redemption for man, there is no salvation for our sins.