The Sarcasm Paradox

There’s few things in language that are celebrated more than sarcasm. And rightly so, an on-point sarcastic quip can tickle a special kind of fancy for a special length of time. It shows intelligence and comprehension of the less-than-obvious. It is, in itself, an interesting subject, can be used to gauge someone’s tolerance for criticism and many people just can’t GIVE IT A FUCKING REST.

“I was hoping for a battle of wits, but you appear to be unarmed?”

Yes, sarcasm is all these things, but there’s a good chance it doesn’t really mean what you think it means. What sarcasm is not, you see, is a free pass to be a dick. Saying the opposite of what you actually mean with a roll of the eyes and stupid grin is not clever and funny, and neither is it sarcasm. It is little else than obnoxious. It doesn’t show any intelligence on your part and if your words aren’t taken well, it isn’t because the person on the other end is intolerant. You’re just being insufferable.

Sarcasm is clever like humor is funny: You gotta put some fucking effort into it. If you don’t, people will hate you and it will be your fault.
There are many ways to do sarcasm wrong. Ridiculing someone’s argument, mimicking them with a stupid voice, saying the opposite of what your point actually is: They all have in common that, while you think you’re being astute because your words require a minimum of primate-level thought to understand, you’re just demonstrating that you just haven’t managed to grow past that point.

“I apologize. I don’t know what you’re on, and on and on about.”

Many people who see sarcasm as some holy grail of communication, if not most of them, fall for this trap. They believe the whole world misunderstands them because if how intelligent they are, while the opposite is true.

Sarcasm, ladies, gentlemen and similar, is subtle. It’s a well-delivered train of thought, a clue train if you will, that, if followed by the listener to the last stop, loops them right back to themselves. It’s the linguistic equivalent of a playful jab underwater.

Put some back into it, people. You should know better than to think you can whip out your wit and toss it on the table like a wallet. It’s a rare thing and you probably don’t have quite as much of it as you think. And even if you do, you have to work to keep it lest you join the constant, unfunny drone we get ladled every day.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go slip into something more comfortable. Like a coma.”


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