I don’t know when sarcasm started being worn as some kind of badge of honor. Literally. There are shirts you can buy announcing your sarcastic nature to the world. It became an aspiration. A point of pride. A quality we should all appreciate in someone. It’s none of these things. It’s a warning label.
Sarcasm is a means of saying what you actually feel while hiding it behind a thin veil of humor as to rid yourself of accountability for how bad you make someone feel as a result of your words.
The proof of this is how many times sarcastic people have to explain the fact that they were being sarcastic. A snide comment comes flying out of their mouth and then there is the reaction. The horrified reaction that the recipient of the ill-humored comment is offended or hurt. Telling that person, “I’m just kidding,” or “I was being sarcastic,” doesn’t soften the blow. It just means you can’t to own up the fact that you said something you probably shouldn’t have.
When I was online dating, I came across countless profiles of men who bragged that they “spoke fluent sarcasm.” Those guys went right into the circular file. It’s not a language. It doesn’t take skill to learn. It’s nothing more than passive aggression.
These guys were clearly communicating one thing to me and every other woman: “I lack the emotional maturity to, when called for, be able to express how I feel without masking what I have to say with humor so I can dodge responsibility when you get mad at me.”
Why would want to spend my time with someone like that? I wouldn’t. No one wants to be around people who can’t express themselves maturely. It is a huge red flag.
The truly offensive part of this is that a sarcastic person is banking on the person they’re speaking to being too dumb to realize they have been insulted. I have rarely ever met a person too unintelligent to realize why someone has made a dig at them. Sarcastic people do not have odds in their favor. But still, proceed they do.
I understand there are different levels of sarcasm. On one level you have your standard garden variety sarcasm. This is generally harmless. It’s that moment when it’s hot as Hades and and you tell your friend, “Man, I can’t wait until it warms up.” It’s a bad joke but there’s no damage there.
Generally sarcastic statements aren’t aimed at a recipient. They are mostly based on observations. I am not suggesting we remove irony and humor from our day to day lives. I’m not here to rain on anyone’s parade.
It’s the sarcastic statements that are meant to mock or insult that are problematic. It’s poor communication and serves absolutely no purpose.
Sarcasm is pure, unadulterated cowardice. Saying what you’re thinking requires emotional awareness and courage. I’m a big proponent of thinking before speaking.
Before rattling off a sarcastic comment, we need to be aware of what we’re saying and why we’re saying it. I would venture to say that most sarcastic comments never need to be heard. They’re not constructive. Intentionally insulting someone isn’t humor, it’s a serious character flaw.
I was recently out to dinner with a friend. We were looking at the menu and decided on some bruschetta. I said it in a very Americanized way. He corrected me by saying it with a more authentic pronunciation and then made a sarcastic comment along the lines of, “I thought you were Italian.” He knows I’m Italian. I know he knows I’m Italian. He was mocking me.
What I wanted to react back with was more sarcasm. Something along the lines of, “And I thought you weren’t an asshole.” Was it quick witted? Sure. Was it necessary? No. I also firmly believe in the high road.
My mind though, raced. In lieu of snapping back with a hurtful comment I struggled to say anything. I felt immediately defensive. A little shame came snuggling up to me. I felt the need to explain myself.
I didn’t say it with a full Italian accent because I always think I sound exceptionally pretentious when I do. So now my insecurity had kicked in. I can’t imagine why someone would intentionally put someone else in that kind of place.
Sarcasm has become too pervasive in our culture. The problem is that is perpetuates that poor communication skills are perfectly acceptable. They’re not. We can do better. We’re smarter than that. We should act accordingly.