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. (Listen, buy, 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:
Kanye has a great ear for talent. This Paul McCartney guy gonna be huge.
— Desus Nice (@desusnice) January 1, 2015
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.
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?
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.
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.
You’ll find that Desus Nice has mentioned the former Beatle on many occasions. Here is a sample from more than two years ago:
Paul McCartney to replace Kurt Cobain in Nirvana reunion. Enjoy listening to “Smells like Tesco Antiperspirant” ppl. — Desus Nice (@desusnice) December 12, 2012
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.