Irony is a linguistic trust fall online...
Fortune Cookie | Silvertoad, Luton

The internet is a place full of wonder, magic and mystery. And like most fantasy books that follow those 3 keywords, you do need to remember that not everything you see or read is real. Not only should you be aware of what you’re reading, you should also be aware of what you’re posting: will it be read the way you intend, or could it be potentially damaging if someone doesn’t realise you’re cracking a joke?

The internet isn’t all a bad dark place, it’s a great tool that’s key to both our personal and business lives. But when you’re reading that email from your ‘long lost cousin half way around the other side of the world, who wants to transfer you £32 million’, you should realize that not everything is what it seems. According to the BBC, more than £190,000 a day is lost in the UK by victims of cyber-crime.

In real life situations, there are a number of factors that go into determining your level of trust for someone; this can include tone of voice, body language and even the environment. But what happens when all that is stripped back, and all you have is text on screen? Our trust then falls into the hands of opinions of people we’re unsure if exist, or for a business: a 5 star rating system.

Would you stay somewhere that only had 2 stars on trip advisor, or would you purchase something from a 1 star rated company? Probably not. In fact, most of us won’t even make a booking or purchase if anything is below a 4 star rating. But we don’t think about the amount of personal bias that goes into these ratings. Many people will only leave a review if they’ve had a particularly outstanding or particularly appalling service – these reviews don’t accurately account for the people who were satisfied as they expected, which can jeopardise the appearance of a company in an over or under generous light.

The reality is, the internet is an ironic minefield we can’t live with or without. Heck, even the Weight Watchers website asks you to accept Cookies to have a better online experience!

The 2 key messages we’ve all heard over and over in the last decade and more are: don’t get in a car with a stranger, and don’t trust people on the internet. Then you fast forward to now, with the likes of Uber in existence, where we’re paying a stranger from the internet, to get in their car!

But irony is a linguistic trust fall, especially on the internet. Be careful of what you catch, and what you let pass…