How to detect Twitter sarcasm about Kanye and McCartney

National Sarcasm Society t-shirt
National Sarcasm Society by Acid Pix licensed under CC BY 2.0

Some media outlets, like ABC on Good Morning America, laughed at Kanye West fans for not knowing who Paul McCartney is. Yeezy fans posted tweets that credited West for featuring the unknown McCartney in West’s new single. (Listenbuy, or read “Only One.”)

The only problem is that those comments were sarcastic. I haven’t read all the tweets that each media outlet shared, but here is one I saw in every post I’ve read on the topic:

When I saw that, I was incredulous. This guy can’t be serious? If you are a reporter, run with that incredulity. Question that tweet.

Here are a few simple methods to detect Twitter sarcasm.

1. Ask!

The easiest way to find out if someone is serious is to ask that person. On Twitter, that means you hit the reply button and pose the question: @desusnice Do you really not know who Paul McCartney is?

2. Observe

Desus Nice might never reply to your query, so look at his timeline. Do Mr. Nice’s previous tweets suggest that he is unaware of people and places of cultural significance? Does he crack wise, or is he a straight shooter? Is sarcasm a comedic weapon that he wields? If he likes to joke around, there’s a good chance his McCartney tweet isn’t serious.

3. Search

If Desus Nice knows who Paul McCartney is, he might have tweeted about him before. To find those tweets, paste this into Twitter’s search box: “paul mccartney” from:desusnice

Twitter sorts the results using some secret algorithm. You want to see all the tweets, so click on the “all” link near the top of the page.

Twitter search all link
This will show all tweets during a search

You’ll find that Desus Nice has mentioned the former Beatle on many occasions. Here is a sample from more than two years ago:

Does it matter?

An investigation about sarcastic tweets might be frivolous, but the tips are real. You can use them when reporting on corporations, representatives, government entities, and breaking news.

This whole discussion is moot anyway, since we all know that Paul is dead.

A personal note

Some of the tweets mentioned by media outlets might be genuine. Some people don’t know who Sir Paul is, and that’s okay. Only when you embrace your ignorance can you learn and grow. When you embrace the ignorance of others, you accept them and encouraging their growth. When someone doesn’t know something, don’t make fun of them. Share your knowledge.

Do you want to grow as a human being? Do you want to learn something new every day? The only way to learn is to acknowledge that there is something you don’t know. Embrace your ignorance. Every day.

Purported Paul George X-ray possibly 18 months old

One day after Indiana Pacers star Paul George broke his right leg during a USA Basketball Showcase scrimmage, NBA Central tweeted this photo of what it said was an X-ray of George’s leg.

As I write this post, that image has been retweeted more than 15,000 times.

It looks extremely similar to this image I found (through this page on imgfave) that was taken on February 27, 2013 and posted on Flickr in a group called Nasty XRAY. Continue reading