I’ll admit it. I’m sarcastic. At times, probably obnoxiously too. Not so much here on the blog or even in my preaching, but I am in my interactions with close friends. So when I read THIS ARTICLE last night it was like a punch in the gut. Tyler Huckabee wrote…
The dictionary calls it a “sneering or cutting remark,” but there’s more to it than that. Sarcasm is scorn in subversive style. Researchers say that recognition of sarcasm is a sign of intelligence in children. It’s an awfully nuanced means of communication—too nuanced, in fact, to be used as freely as we do.
What Do You Mean?
You’ve probably heard it said, “I can’t always tell when you’re being real and when you’re being sarcastic.”
Perhaps because the line between “real” and “joking” isn’t as thick as we usually think.
John Haiman, a linguist at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., says people who use sarcasm are rarely just kidding. The words come from an authentic place, but it’s wrapped up as a joke for protection. Essentially, sarcasm is a survival technique for the insecure. It’s used to make yourself appear to be stronger or better, but it’s not said with enough seriousness for anyone to accuse you of being a jerk.
Another interesting finding of Haiman’s study: Sarcasm is most frequent in the extremes of your social circles—the people you know best and the people you know least. That’s why Twitter is a boundless stream of insincerity. It’s also why the spouse who gets home late from work might be greeted by a dry, “So glad you could join us.”
The increase of sarcasm over the Internet makes sense, researchers say. Sarcasm is an elevated communications trick and you have more time to formulate these jokes from your computer, editing your Facebook comment into the perfect haymaker of an argument closer. But its frequency among family members—people who supposedly care deeply for each other—is puzzling.
Part of the answer might come from an interesting thought a friend related to me. “Show me a sarcastic person,” he said, “and I will show you a wounded person. And I can tell you where their wound is too.”
I told you it was a punch in the gut.
Do you agree with the idea that “Essentially, sarcasm is a survival technique for the insecure?”