“Sarcasm: intellect on the offensive”
Sarcasm is probably my favorite type of humor. I tell people, “if there are two ways to interpret something I said, just assume I’m being sarcastic.” It’s true. I have a dry humor, and because I have thick skin, I sometimes forget that others don’t. I know that sometimes things I’ve said have inadvertently hurt people’s feelings. Since I’m a therapist in my day job, I have to be especially careful not to be too “me” sometimes.
Recently I had a conversation with a woman from Puerto Rico, and we got on the subject of sarcasm. Now, she speaks perfect English, so this is a cultural, rather than a language thing. She commented, “I don’t get sarcasm. I’ve tried to do it sometimes, and I just end up being mean.” I also recently had someone tell me, “People who are being sarcastic are hiding something.”
It wouldn’t have been appropriate for me to laugh in the latter instance, so I’m lucky I have experience with keeping a poker face. But it made me start to think about the implications of sarcasm. There are times when I think that my sarcasm is so obvious that I might as well be flashing a blink sign. *sarcasm* blink *sarcasm* blink But then whoever I’m talking to doesn’t get it, and I wonder if I’m being unclear. Maybe it’s not that simple. Maybe some people just don’t “hear” what I’m saying.
I often think about “style” in writing, and how a distinctive voice is one of the things I most enjoy about certain authors. Different authors use language differently. But I suppose that we all have styles of speech too; I just don’t normally give those much thought. In speech, I pause a lot. I frequently misuse words and lose my train of thought. (I tell people that my train of thought derails.) I say “uh huh” and “hmm” a lot. But my writing style is rather different. “Real” dialog in writing really isn’t much like real dialog at all, and writing is different than talking.
As to the person who said that people who are being sarcastic are hiding something… I can’t speak for everyone, but I most often tell the truth. And when I’m being sarcastic, it’s usually because I’m telling the truth. But because the truth comes in sarcasm, no one notices. How is it my fault that others don’t pay attention?
What do you think? Are you pro-sarcasm or anti-sarcasm?