What Does Being Sarcastic Say About You?

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?”

 

111 Responses to “What Does Being Sarcastic Say About You?”

  1. Frank says:

    Thanks for the food for thought! Certainly I would agree that sarcasm is a survival and defense mechanism. Everyone I know uses sarcasm at some level. Your friends statement rings true, because we are all wounded and broken at some level. Many times it is very easy to see where those wounds lie thru their use of sarcasm.

    If we could all be a little more like Dr. Sheldon Cooper: “You will know when I am using sarcasm as it will be followed by the word…Bazinga!!”

  2. Amanda says:

    YES. yes yes yes.

    I have a person in my life right now who I love very dearly, but rarely do I hear a comment come out of their mouth that’s not dripping with sarcasm. I completely believe sarcasm covers insecurity, but oftentimes it is also a mask for anger. People who are unable to move through their anger or hurt use sarcasm as a way to mask their pain. It also, unfortuneately, is used as a back-handed way to make mean and snide comments.

    I specifically remember a sermon at Crosspoint that Blake gave over the summer where he talked about sarcasm. He touched on a lot of the same points. Specifically, that it is less about the comments made, and more about the heart behind it.

    Thanks, Pete.

    • Pete Wilson says:

      That was a good message!!

    • Chrissy says:

      Hi amended I agree with you I have been trying with the help of the holy spirit to let go of anger
      This week the holy spirit showed me that I was sarcastic to a couple of people
      I felt convicted and came to this site to check out where this sarcasim had come. From
      Thanks for your post and as much as it hurts me that I. Have not dealt
      With all my anger and hurting others hurts me to hurt the lord I do pray for your friend and
      For myself that standing on the blood of jesus and the repentance of this with help of holy spirit
      Will be able to overcome this by being rooted and grounded in love if Christ and for your friend to in Jesus name I ask it god bless you xxx

    • Katie3699 says:

      My husband is very dryly sarcastic….always with a follow up of “just kidding”.

      I used to take it personally until I started giving it back.

      Our relationship has improved immensely as he was always a pretty quiet person until I appreciated what the wrapper coming off left….goofy guy that just wanted a partner secure enough with herself to share in his sarcasm and give it right back!!

      • Arii says:

        I wish my husband weren’t so sensitive (and simple). It would be great if he could just fire one back at me. Instead he complains that I’m not nice. No, I’m just not a mindless dolt. Sigh.

        • lisa says:

          I know the feeling, I like people who can give me a good one right back

          • Lisa10001 says:

            Yes, but then doesn’t it just become a game of wit and the underlying problem goes unaddressed? Do two sarcastic remarks make a functional relationship? That makes me think of passive aggression.

            • kcd03 says:

              ^ This. A game of wit and sarcasm between loving partners does more damage than good. It one thing for occasional barbs between friends, and even partners, but long term healthy relationships cannot sustain it.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I do agree that that can sometimes be the case, but for me (I’m very sarcastic and I appreciate sarcasm from others) it’s just my humor. If I’m being sarcastic with you, it means I feel comfortable with you. I feel like that’s the opposite of what this guy is talking about. He says sarcasm comes from insecurity and for me, when I’m insecure, I tend to clam up.

    I don’t know. To each his own I guess. I guess when it’s biting and hurtful, it’s a different story. I don’t go in that direction. (Or at least I don’t think I do.)

    • katdish says:

      What Jennifer said…

    • Rachel says:

      Exactly. I also use sarcasm more for humor than to try and sugar coat my real feelings.

    • Jay says:

      Preach it Jennifer …

    • Kim says:

      I totally agree with Jennifer! I can zing people like nobody’s business and there is great satisfaction in that (just being honest). One day I had the revelation that God gave me the gift of crafting words and always having something to say because I’m supposed to be intentional about using it to build up others, not bury them under a pile of words. Purposing not to be sarcastic is not the same thing as purposing to be an encourager.

      On the flip side of that, though, we had a new staff member come on board last year who was really quiet. Most of us have a sarcastic brand of humor, and we weren’t totally sure of his style or how he’d take us. One day, after something funny happened with his worship band, my husband threw out a zinger without thinking. To our relief, he came right back with one and said later that was the moment he knew we’d be friends, because we were comfortable enough to be ourselves with him. You just have to be sensitive to the people you’re around and respect those boundaries, and be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as to when to shut it.

    • Ginge says:

      Yeah, I totally agree. My friends and I are very sarcastic, all the time. I just started working at a restaurant as well, and it’s very relaxed and friendly, and I’ve noticed that a lot of the servers use sarcasm with the customers, and vice versa. However, my sister uses “sarcasm,” which doesn’t even have a different inflection from her normal voice and says that it’s just sarcasm. It’s always really hurtful, and upsetting. They’re stabbing comments. It just depends on the person and how they use it.

      • Cate says:

        It goes both ways. Sarcasm can be fun if it’s understood by all involved. It’s fun to listen to sometimes. Having said that, it’s pretty dysfunctional in terms of communicating honestly. If someone does it repeatedly whenever conversing it’s a way to be detached, and insult, and…not have to take responsibility for it. I’ve been on the receiving end, and mentioned it to the person. Some don’t know this about themselves. We all are learning everyday. Take Care.

    • Carolyn says:

      Well said! Sarcasm is just a type of humor. Like Jennifer said I use it with those I feel most secure around. I feel like most of my more intelligent friends have a dry, sarcastic wit about them. If I can dish it out I better be able to take it, too. :) Makes for fun banter.

    • Lemon Lima says:

      Totally agree, i also use sarcasm to tease my friends, make funny remarks… specially in a group of close friends.

      Also used it widely to make people laugh during lunch time at the office. They loved it… but yes, sometimes you come out as being too bitter.

      But I won’t completely deny that being wounded can be related to it. I can’t imagine a happy-go-lucky person being good at sarcasm, i think they usually aren’t… or maybe they use sarcasm mostly in very innocent jokes? … what do you think?

      • Lisa10001 says:

        I’ve been looking at my relationships with those I’m sarcastic with and those I’m not. For me, I’m sarcastic with those I’m insecure with, when I want to look good and be liked, and I’m sarcastic when I want to get my anger out in a socially acceptable way.

  4. Jamie says:

    I used to go to a Christian camp through the counseling group I went to as a teen. We stayed at a lake house for 10 days and we had rules like “no sarcasm” and “always greet a person when they enter a room.” It was amazing the transformation in my heart in 10 days. The no sarcasm rule seemed outrageous and unbearable at first, but I was so much happier and sweeter when I got home from camp. But when you get back out in the real world and everyone else is allowed to be sarcastic, it’s a little more difficult to refrain.

  5. JW says:

    I don’t necessarily believe this. In some cases I’m sure it is. Then with the example of “So glad you could join us,” sarcasm is being used to be mean and make a jab. I know a lot of confident people (maybe over-confident) who speak fluent sarcasm, and then I know people are naturally funny and don’t take things so seriously use it. My whole family is sarcastic. Especially at the dinner table, and we laugh our heads off. And I know for a fact it’s not be used to cover up insecurity and wounds. Just my opinion. :)

  6. Debbie Sneddon says:

    I have a family member who is very sarcastic to the point of poison dripping from his lips. To tell the truth he thinks he is really witty but actually he is a bully even in his speech. Sometimes i find it hard to pray for him because of so many of the hurtful things he says to me and other family members. I know it is because he is insecure in many areas but he is unable to see where his anger, bullying and sarcasm comes from, to him, he is fine. Please pray for me to love the unlovable because I know I can be unlovable as well and pray for his healing, thank you, great post.

  7. Quintin says:

    Ouch Pete!! Here in the UK sarcasm is cultural. I never linked it to insecurity, but it makes sense. Personally, I do get sarcastic with family and friends – this is one survival tool I shall need to throw away!

  8. Jen says:

    My kids mustn’t be very clever, because sarcasm is lost on them every. single. time. ;)

    I think the intent of the sarcasm needs to be taken into account. Because I know people who have passive aggressive sarcasm down to a fine art, and others who are so brilliant in their remarks that have me howling with laughter. Good sarcasm and dry humour are very closely related, I think. :)

  9. Harold says:

    I agree completely.

    I might also add that humor can also take the place of sarcasm for those who are insecure. As one who was bullied beyond belief when growing up, I learned to use humor to disarm those who were tormenting me. (The lesson here is it’s hard to beat up someone who is making you laugh)

    That humor followed me into adulthood and while possibly still funny to those around me, became very sad to me. Wounds from your childhood have got to be the hardest wounds to heal.

  10. Jeff Jansen says:

    Pete I do agree in part, but I’m not 100% sold that this is the case for everyone. I use sarcasm with people I know but not those I don’t know. I don’t with those who I don’t know for a reason, they don’t “Know” me, and I don’t know them very well either, that’s taking a big risk of blowing a possible good future friendship or contact. But to those who we do know each other well, we do know it’s just a jest.

    • Chrissy says:

      V
      Hi amended I agree with you I have been trying with the help of the holy spirit to let go of anger
      This week the holy spirit showed me that I was sarcastic to a couple of people
      I felt convicted and came to this site to check out where this sarcasim had come. From
      Thanks for your post and as much as it hurts me that I. Have not dealt
      With all my anger and hurting others hurts me to hurt the lord I do pray for your friend and
      For myself that standing on the blood of jesus and the repentance of this with help of holy spirit
      Will be able to overcome this by being rooted and grounded in love if Christ and for your friend to in Jesus name I ask it god bless you xxx

  11. Josh says:

    I would mostly disagree. I think sarcasm can be used to lighten moods, make people smile, and share a sense of humor. Although I do see how it can also be used as a defense mechanism and to spew hate, I don’t see it to be more harmful than any other act of tongue though. I suppose it depends on the heart of the person speaking. I know I personally appreciate sarcasm and encourage it and sometimes think that people who are too uptight and have no sense of humor or sarcasm can be more of a poison. Bottom line is I think it is just the same as any other form of communication and can be used for good OR to tear down. I say bring on the sarcasm and quit being so darned serious and sensitive all the time!

  12. Bob Willits says:

    The funniest times in my life is when me and my siblings (all married) are all sitting around taking shots at each other with sarcasm. We laugh until we cry from laughter. I couldn’t imagine those gatherings w/o sarcasm. We are also an incredibly close family.

    The all male work environment is similar. Those who are closest relationally are the hardest on each other with sarcasm.

    I can’t agree with the author’s assessment.

  13. dan says:

    I both agree & disagree.

    Using myself as an example, there are very close friends of mine whom I’ll be sarcastic with & they will with me, all out of nothing more than a joke. There’s no indignation, frustration or pain behind these remarks. At the same time we can quickly go from sarcastic joking to deep personal conversations.

    On the other hand, there are people in my life who I will be sarcastic with not because I don’t care for them, but more to mask frustration.

    So I can understand the “Show me a sarcastic person…” comment. As for the punch in the gut, I do agree. It makes me wonder how often & with whom I’m sarcastic when I don’t mean to come across that way. It was something that I picked up when I so young that it has become a part of who I am & how I communicate.

  14. Hilary says:

    I think there is a difference between sarcasm and satire – true sarcasm, yes, can be a survival technique for the insecure. But many of us use satire in our speech, especially with people we are close with, or in the same boat with, and it might be what we are mistakenly defining as sarcasm. Satire uses sarcasm, but usually with an intent to highlight fault and inspire improvement, not just for the sake of being mean. Sarcasm is all over the internet. Satire is the language my family speaks to say potentially hurtful things without the immediate potential for hurt. Usually in satire I’m including myself in with the commentary. (Case in point, SCL.)

    I see what the author means when he says sarcasm is an “awfully nuanced means of communication.” :-)

  15. Pam says:

    WOW!!! I have never thought of sarcasm in the context of a defense mechanism, but it makes total since. My husband whom I love with all my heart is one of the most sarcastic people I have ever met.
    I have and still do believe that he is a very loving person that would give you the shirt off his back. If he was required to speak any other way than with sarcasm he would probably just stop talking altogether.
    But he comes from a very damaged past of an abusive alcoholic father. It makes complete since that this was developed out of defense from the pain that he has never really dealt with.
    He just says the past is the past and lets leave it there.
    His manner of speech will most likely never change but your article makes me see him in a whole new light. Thank you for that!!!

    • Deb Glazner says:

      I’m surprised at the attempts in some of the comments to justify sarcasm as a sense of humor or that one who might be offended by it is simply insecure or humorless themselves. Then again, I suppose I can relate to both of those views as I came from a family that can be sarcastic in an attempt to put you down as well as using sarcasm in an attempt to be humorous. When my husband joined the family, he helped me see that either way, the affect of sarcastic communication wasn’t edifying to the relationship. I recently heard sarcasm as being the ‘subtle language of the devil’. I’ve thought on that quite a bit.

      Bottom line, communicate what you intend to communicate. If you are displeased, then get over it or express it truthfully. “I’m not happy that you were late getting home but I am grateful that you are okay.” Maybe you aren’t grateful that they got home okay. Then stop after expressing you are unhappy they are late. Instead of telling cousin Sally her hair looks like she got caught in a wind storm, thereby making her feel self-conscious, keep quiet or tell her you are happy to see her. Throw a hug in there too.

      Communication, spoken and unspoken, either builds or it demolishes. His Word was given to build. Our lives were given to praise and build. (I know this sounds preachy or high-handed but seriously, I’ve come to the conclusion that sarcasm is just plain ugly at its core.)

      • Pete Wilson says:

        I think the real debate here Deb is in how we define sarcasm. I like your idea of simply communicating what you mean.

        • Lara Taeuber says:

          I knew someone who said he used it to help people relate. To him. To me he used it as a power trip. I struggle with using it for a defense mechnism. Define dry humor. The thing is sarcasm can wound even when we dont mean for it to. @laratexas

  16. Think the article is a little extreme. I think there is a type of sarcasm that comes from a negative place, from a wound. But not all sarcasm. Also, if you were being sarcasm and it felt hurtful or negative or insecure, I think you have friends who are close enough to you that would call you out on it…sarcastically, of course.

  17. Joe Pote says:

    Very interesting question, Pete!

    I will say that when I think of sarcastic people, the ones that come to mind first are those who are generally very negative in their view of life and have little good to say about anything. In these cases, yes, I would say that the sarcasm is either a defense mechanism or else just a really bad habit.

    Next to come to mind would be adolescents who often seem to have an entire subculture based on sarcasm. In this case, it is likely covering insecurities and helping them to feel somewhat superior.

    However, as a couple of other commentors pointed out, there is a group of people (myself included) with simply a dry sense of humor. Odd things strike me as funny, and if sitting next to someone who I think will appreciate the humor, I may voice it.

    While there may, at times, be a fine line between sarcasm and dry humor, I think there is a distinct difference, if only that one is expressed with honest open warm smiles, while the other is characterized by sneering expressions and a general lack of smiles or warmth.

  18. Andrea says:

    I’ve always had a hard time with sarcastic people because I’ve always felt it’s so hurtful more than funny. This makes total sense to me. Very interesting!

  19. jason says:

    sarcasm
    the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

    There are a lot of examples in Gods Word emphasizing for us as Christians not to communicate in this way, 2 Corinthians 12:19-21 for one.

    If a word of sarcasm, a joke, a mock, a teas, or making fun of is pointed at a person. I cannot see it ever being a good thing, even with a “come on man I’m just messin with ya”, or “where is your since of humor?” I would also say there is no place for it in the Kingdom, or in “authentic community”. Consequently it is so rare for a person to not use sarcasm they would be considered odd or strange. Its a sad thing.

    I’m sure in a lot of peoples minds it is away to try to connect with someone or a crowd such as a speaker would, but we must strive to be more creative in the art of communication.

    I think saying “it is a survival technique for the insecure” is a very loving point of view to look at this disease in our culture.

    Glad that you shared this today.

    For His Glory.

    • jason says:

      Had to add this:

      Ephesians 4:29
      Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

      Romans 14:19
      Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

      Easier said than done I know.

      What if we could though, keeping edification on the tip of our tongues?

      • Jami says:

        There are many examples of satire ( peppered with sarcasm) throughout the Bible I think intent is the defining factor determining what is good and what is not.

  20. robby says:

    What a truth in my life. Love it…

  21. Christy says:

    Years ago I would be up in arms to defend sarcasm as a merely a tool for great humor since I have a very dry sense I humor and have always been somewhat sarcastic. However, after reading some articles and speaking with a counselor about it I started listening to sarcastic remarks and thinking about what they were intending to communicate and most of the time it was hurtful. My husband comes from an extremely sarcastic family and it’s such a battle for him to refrain from throwing out sarcastic remarks on a regular basis. Sarcasm is almost always conveying something negative about a person or a thing if you take a minute to unwrap it. I feel okay using it when the target isn’t a person but it can become too much of a habit so I think cutting it out all together is best. I know it’s hard! I read somewhere that if you want to do one thing to improve your marriage then stop using sarcasm and see what happens.

  22. nic says:

    so so good. what a great article and oh so true. convicted.

  23. Beth says:

    Duly noted :) On my reading there’s a high incidence of sarcasm in the Bible. Perhaps it’s something I bring to the text.

    I enjoyed reading the advice in the comments. What are your instincts about satire? I’m interested as it’s a form of comedy I’m often attracted to. It’s almost as if it’s sarcasm with a point.

    I think we do need space in which to disagree with others. I suppose the issue is by what methods we go about it and how we preserve integrity in our relationships in the process. Negotiating around this issue isn’t something I’ve found easy but too much sarcasm is an emotional checkmate. I wouldn’t want sarcasm to become my life posture. I should probably kneel more. Lent is a good time to start.

  24. Sherie says:

    After college I lived in Australia for a time and sarcasm is deep in their culture. I found it increasingly troublesome, and a sign of some deeper issues. I don’t know that I agree that it is a survival technique, I do believe that everything we say comes out of our heart. Instead of looking at the communication of others and trying to figure out why they were using sarcasm I look at my own heart and communication and try to regularly evaluate if I am speaking words of love, grace, openness, and hope to others. Our communication needs to vary depending on who we speak to and what we are speaking about. I believe there are times that sarcasm, satire, and dry humor are okay, but if it is hurting another person or creating an environment that causes another to stumble and not see Christ or feel invited into authentic relationship and community then I hope the communication will change. We can be the greatest obstacle toward others seeing and coming into relationship with the Lord, and I never want to be that obstacle.

  25. I agree 100%. I’m actually so excited to see this blog because I have always said that sarcasm is ‘truth being covered by humor’ thx for posting!

  26. Gil Gatch says:

    So true. I know when I’m hurt or insecure I’m often more concerned about my ego boost than for my brother or sister. Great post.

  27. NancyB says:

    I find sarcasm and “cutting humor” to be very tiring. It wears me out especially when it’s directed at me. Which it always seems to be when we’re together with certain people. And then sometimes my husband jumps on the bandwagon. It got so bad at one point I had to have a talk with him about not protecting me. He stopped. Sometimes it makes me feel like I have no sense of humor but I never feel good cutting people down for a laugh. I don’t understand why people think it’s ok to do it to me.

    • Jenn says:

      I feel the same way Nancy! I feel like I’m always a target and I don’t understand why. I couldn’t even go to a baby shower the other day without 5-6 people all attacking me at the same time! Sometimes I can come up with something sarcastic to say back but a lot of the times I’m so annoyed and angry that I just don’t say anything and then they like to point that out too about how I can’t say anything. They all were just jumping on me, making fun of me and I was seriously annoyed because they were badgering me for the way I was eating my food! And I’m like “Well if you have a problem with the way I’m eating, that’s your problem!” and they still wouldn’t shut up. Had to keep making a “point.” I felt getting up and leaving the situation would come across too strong and I didn’t want to be rude to the guest of honor.

      However, with my family I think nowadays with them I WOULD get up and leave. I just don’t see them a lot these days for those reasons and more so it hasn’t been a problem lately. But they used to make such biting remarks to me and I would be so mad and annoyed I couldn’t say anything except maybe put on a sarcastic smile and then they would be smiling back with “victory” written on their faces.

    • SueB says:

      I so agree with NancyB. I came to this article and found a truth that I didn’t want to find. I hate sarcasm and find it very tiresome too. I want people to be real with me and not use me as a joke. I don’t feel good ever being mean to someone and using sarcasm for a laugh at someone elses expense is not cool. My husband and my two boys think its totally ok, is it a guy thing, it seems they communicate with each other that way and I don’t get it. And what Gil said about being more concerned with the ego boost and not about others, that hit home. Why is it so fun to say something mean and pretend like you really didnt mean it? Aw shucks, you need to chill. Well if you didnt just say something hurtful and instead said something to make me feel good or uplifted, then we would all be SO CHILL!

  28. Ange says:

    Thanks Pete,

    I’m the guy that ALWAYS is the brunt of someone’s sarcasm. I wonder if it is the way I look that invites people to address me that way. Interesting that this topic comes after I recently waited on a party of 4 at a local eatery. While one of them was very “sarcastically” direct (in what she believed to be a fun way), I told her that while I understand this practice and try to let it run off my back, I don’t take it well.

    I’m usually a good reader of the kind of person I interact with and BTW, I can dish it out, too….

    I really try and understand the humor of a situation and love to laugh. But what I find is a “fundamental attribution error”, maybe on my part… When I do it, I think of it as “no big deal”, but when somebody does it to me, I just don’t end up in a good place.

  29. Blue says:

    There is Sarcasm all throughout the Bible with Jesus… Examples are in almost all his interactions with Pharisees, heck even his mother when she asks him to fix the wine situation.. I think this article has lumped being mean/rude/unloving as sarcasm… The American culture has just abused it like most other things and is now viewed as some evil device by American Christians who can’t see past all the rules and regulations they have established for themselves as Christians. All that is truly needed is to Love God and Love people..

  30. Keisha Holt says:

    Ouch! Great article! I am very sacastic & I love to joke around especially the ones that I love. I say if i didn’t love you I wouldn’t aggravate you. But this has given me something to think about! I desire to be Christ like!

  31. That Guy says:

    Sarcasm is generally hurt/anger in “joke” form….not really a survival or protection technique, but it sounds better than me saying to a person “what the hell is wrong with you, why can’t you just commit and get your ass over here on time when its EXPECTED?”

    • Dedra says:

      I think it is, indeed, all in the way the sarcasm is given. I know that I grew up with a sarcastic dad….who was also self-effacing and dry-witted…but I knew he loved me deeply…so I assumed that was the way people who loved each other talked to each other. I can see where sarcasm could be “… a survival technique for the insecure” as my dad probably was insecure….but he had such a big heart I knew where all his words came from. I guess one should be more concerned with how they take the words than with how they are given….

  32. britt savage says:

    I have to admit, I really enjoy some sarcasm. I love wordplay and if it’s dealt with humor and a perfect balance of a joke and a bit of a sting, it’s just perfect-like in Shakespeare.. or Jimmy Kimmel. There are even some places in the bible where people say some pretty sarcastic things that I love. I guess I’m thinking of sarcasm as being witty with a jab and that dry vocal delivery. It’s one of my favorite kind of jokes.

    Now I feel evil and insecure.

  33. Lydia says:

    It has been a survival technique for me. I was mentally, emotionally, and verbally abused as a child and as I got older the anger built and this is how it came out…in ‘funny’ sideways wisecracks…my father died when I was seven years old. Shortly after his death whenever I expressed ‘any’ emotion, my mother would say “there she goes acting ‘crazy’ like her old man” and then I would here her say she was glad he was dead and that he was a mean sob…and at seven I thought since I was just like him that she must wish I was dead too…in a seven year old’s mind…and that was just the beginning. So yes, anger and sarcasm became a way to save myself from humiliation and hurt and fear and expressing anger which would draw the worst abuse back.

  34. Adele says:

    Insecure? I don’t know… Dr. Who’s quick-wittedness is more of a one two punch to renegotiating his expectations with in his surroundings. Sometimes in excellent newsprint it seems a mark of dissatisfaction. But writers and journalists aside, it simply shouldn’t be employed by the dim witted and tactless. There, it does appear to mark a darker insecurity.

  35. Tamara says:

    Ouch.
    Just… ouch.

  36. Lori says:

    please have your friend contact me. I’ve been told I have Masters in Sarcasm. seriously though, I really have to watch this because for me it very easily crosses into sniping most of the time.

  37. Chris Kinner says:

    So my sarcasm points to my insecurities and inner desire to be mean to those closest to me?

    I like it! (wink)

    Are we dealing in reality here? Or with the backlash of kids called “slow” for not being sarcastic as a child and studies conducted by humorless researchers.

    Maturity points us to where and when to use humor. Those too sensitive to laugh at certain types of jokes should not be subjected to them.

    But to dismiss a time tested and truly hilarious form of humor by calling out those who would utilize it and further suggesting a dark motivation. All I can say is, why don’t you research fart jokes? Women have been annoyed by those for YEARS!

    Except for my wife, she loves them.

  38. A.E. Forest says:

    I think this is right on in a lot of ways. I am learning to rely on it less and less, because it is so easily misunderstood. However, I think on of the (Which may still point to our wounds, but in a less nefarious way.) Rather than simply call something out, we highlight it with sarcasm, and let our thinking dawn on the hearer. Funny? Often. Worth it if it hurts them or tears them down? Probably not.

    • A.E. Forest says:

      For instance, I was once stressing about resumes and self-worth, and a good friend turned to me and said, “You need to get that straight, because your spread-sheet skills are the main reason we’ve been friends for ten years.” So, I felt loved by her sarcasm highlighting my absurdity…

  39. Joseph says:

    Yes and No. (Don’t you love how I commit…could be a politician ya know)

    Yes when the sarcasm is directed from someone who does it as a defense mechanism like when they do not understand something.

    No when it is in good fun and ultimately comes from that arena.

    I am extremely sarcastic but all in good fun. I am also very secure in who I am and what I am so at no point, for me, cover insecurity.

  40. Todd says:

    I agree being a “sarcastic person” reveals levels of insecurity at times. But using sarcasm is a main form of comedy and being funny. I don’t want a world without sarcasm, I would have to get rid of too many great friends, and myself.

  41. Todd says:

    “Was that sarcasm” Sheldon Cooper

  42. I think within inner circles of friends sarcasm can be OK.

    I grew up in Northern Ireland where the people tend to use sarcasm a lot. It’s built in to their make-up nearly.

    When I came to the US in 2007, I quickly saw that locals were not able to determine when I was joking or serious. I am much less sarcastic these days because of that.

    You need to be sensitive to the person you are conversing with to know if sarcasm is a good delivery or not, and know when to pull back and not go too far.

  43. Angie says:

    Yes. I absolutely agree! I have never found sarcasm to be funny. Even when I’ve used it, I’ve immediately regretted the decision. There is truth behind every single “I’m kidding”. I might have to ping this one…

  44. Jonny says:

    I felt convicted about sarcasm a couple years ago and really had to analyze whether I should drop it completely or whether it has a time and place.

    I agree with a couple people who have said that sarcasm is a biting form of irony. Verbal irony is saying something that is the opposite of what you mean. A useful communication tool in some instances.

    I settled on using a lot less sarcasm, and picking and choosing when I use it to make sure that nobody would be hurt, intentionally or unintentionally.

    For example: I don’t enjoy chick flicks. A week or two ago, some girls who know I don’t like chick flicks jokingly invited me to go with them to a chick flick (kinda sarcastic in itself, although I’m sure I could have gone if I wanted). I responded with “You know, I was really hoping you’d invite me because you know how much I reaaaaalllllly love chick flicks.” It was a funny response to their joke, and we all got a good laugh.

  45. [...] back in February author/pastor Pete Wilson wrote a great blog post about jesting called, “What Does Being Sarcastic Say About You?” In his honest, yet frank style, Wilson asks himself about his own issues with sarcasm, but [...]

  46. [...] was reading Pete Wilson’s blog a while back and he shared an article that he said was “like a punch in the gut.”  It [...]

  47. [...] across a blog post from another Senior Pastor on this whole issue of sarcasm. The post is titled, “What Does Being Sarcastic Say About You.” Pete Wilson is a Pastor and Author ministering at the 5,000 attendee Crosspoint Church. Read it [...]

  48. This was a fantastic read! I’ve been doing some research in psychology and defense mechanisms since around May and I’v been very curious to find any positive inclination that people do indeed use sarcasm as a defense mechanism or as a defense. They don’t list in in common defense mechanisms, but I believe if more research was conducted that would be put on the list.

    • Tina says:

      I see your point. I don’t believe it’s an immediate ‘defense’. It’s more of an offense used as a defense. If those utilizing sarcasm ‘bite’ first, and are accepted, then they know those who accept them may be worth it. If the recipient of the sarcasm doesn’t stick around, then that’s one less person to have around to hurt the deliverer. But it is DEFINITELY used by wounded people.

  49. huggie says:

    Girlfriend Rachael was “sarcastic”. When we “broke up”
    she was even more sarcastic. I think she used sarcasm
    as a way to “devalue” people in the same way that her estranged mother had devalued her. Sean Smith aka “huggie”
    DEFRIENDED on Facebook by Rachael H. on 9/10/12.
    Message to everyone: It’s not what your BF or GF says; it how they say it. Freindly sarcasm feels “freindly” and playfull. Hostile sarcasm will have a “devaluing” feel to to it. Guys, if your girlfriend employs “devaluing” types of sarcasm there are one of two issues or possibly a combination of both; either she has low self esteem and only fels beter about herself by making you the object of her sarcasm or she has lost respect for you completely.

  50. Roseanna Hester says:

    Yes, I agree that sarcasam is a destructive
    habit that some people have developed for their
    lack of better choices in communication styles.
    It can be worse than a slap in the face or even
    a fist in the gut. I have less respect for that
    person, who uses sarcasam, because it is a multi-
    purpose tool used to whitle away at whomever that
    you choose to direct it toward. Some people who
    are sarcastic, feel elevated to those whom they
    are sarcastic to. It’s like giving a little poision
    at a time until the recepient is dead. I have experienced
    more of it in the past 8 yrs of my life,from people
    should have had better skills, since they are in
    leadership, (supposedly Christian leaders)

  51. Tina says:

    Yes, I agree with the entire blog. I was VERY sarcastic for years. I could make someone feel 3 inches tall with my tongue and quick wit. This is part of the “power in the tongue” of which the Bible speaks. Once I went through the Emmaus retreat I realized/discovered how hurt I had been and how much God loved me. It was then that I did what I could to stop using sarcasm. A few years later I went through Celebrate Recovery for those with hurts, habits and hang-ups and I found out just where I was hurting for so long. To this day I still do not use sarcasm at all. God took it totally from me! Hallelujah!!

  52. Tina says:

    After reading the comments on here I realize that there are good and bad points to anything if misused. Those who us use sarcasm should be wary of how they use it. Also, Ironic Sarcasm IS a form of humor when it’s NOT directed toward someone in malice. It’s the malice and discontent that are the culprits NOT sarcasm itself. Anyone directing ugly sarcasm at another should seek attention from a counselor to get to the bottom of their own hurt because that’s when they’re trying to hurt others in a form that might be accepting to those around that are not in the direct line of fire.

  53. Julie says:

    This was a very interesting discussion. I read through about half the comments though and didn’t have time to finish reading all. I just wanted to give my opinion, too!

    I think communication should be honest, but above all, that we should strive to be kind. If we can’t be kind and honest at the same time, I think we should basically refrain from honesty that is too brutal. This is because people are more hurt by the words of others than they let on. My general “knee jerk response” to sarcasm directed at me is to pretend I don’t really care, and that takes the form of maybe laughing it off, participating in the sarcasm, or firing you back. But it’s not something I enjoy doing, so if I don’t have a zinger to come back with (thereby evening “the score”), I will usually ponder and unpack the words later, and they will usually land on a tender spot after I’ve striven to figure out their hidden, underyling message.

    I think sarcasm is generally only funny when it’s not directed at ourselves. Then we can see the arrow flying, but it’s not landing anywhere it can hurt us. That’s why Sheldon Cooper’s sarcasm at Penny can make us laugh or wince, but won’t actually hurt US. Sarcasm is simply a putdown at heart.

    I know some families have that type of humor — it runs in them, almost like a “gene” :) I wasn’t raised around a lot of that, so when I met someone who joined our family and his whole method of joking was sarcasm, I just didn’t like him.

    Of the people that I know who use sarcasm regularly, they are very angry on a regular basis. I do think that anger develops after we are wounded. So to say they are very hurt deep down seems accurate.

    Wow — there’s a lot to this subject. I suppose every perspective is valid in its own way. People should know whether their sarcasm is only playful or not. I think we can feel the “intentions” of others, and some sarcasm can feel playful because it genuinely is, while other types just feel ugly.

  54. sandra says:

    Amazing.I googled “why are people sarcastic?” and
    clicked on this site.I will never ever understand
    why people feel there is a need for sarcasm in any way shape or form.If I meet someone that is sarcastic, I completely avoid them.I was not raised with it in my family.My husband is a sarcastic person as is his whole family.After 30 years of calling him on it, especially when he gets in trouble at work because of it.People think he is being rude.He does not see why people think he is being rude and his feelings get hurt.Well, the problem is with him.He needs to fix that part of himself.He deals with the public all day long every single day as a police officer.Every time he would come home with another story of someone calling his superio, we would discuss exactly what he said that made the person feel he was being rude.He is getting better, thank God.He is the only sarcastic person I can’t stay clear of.He showed absolutely no sarcasm while we were dating for over a year, otherwise we would not be married.I call him on it every single time.It doesn’t matter what he thinks, it is what the person feels like when he uses sarcasm.I cannot see Jesus using sarcasm.To most people it is hurtful not funny.It is a put down, not funny.It puts people on the defensive, which is not funny.My husband is so much better since we started discussingg each time he said something sarcastic.I believe he sees better now what others hear.Thank God because I love him very much, but cannot live with a fulltime sarcastic person.It is a constant tug of war of defensiveness.I keep telling him to THINK BEFORE HE SPEAKS.Is what will come out of his mouth going to hurt someone or build them up? I am going to print this site and put it into a coffee table notebook for all visitors to see with blank pages for comments on such a very important seriously life threatening subject that has even sadly
    caused people to commit suicide. ~The End~

  55. shalonda says:

    This was a great exsplanation of what I was looking for and I never thought of sarcasim in this way, but you have shed a whole new light on it

  56. Bob Michael says:

    My mother is sarcastic all the time and it’s always directed at my dad. She’s been like this as long as I can remember and she doesn’t know how stupid she sounds. When ever I have a conversation with my dad, my mother will listen to what he’s saying and she’ll make sarcastic comments. It drives me CRAZY! It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even want to visit them anymore. My father was caught having an affair 8 years ago and my mother reminds him about that every chance she gets. I was angry when he did that but. I totally understand why he did. If my wife insulted for 30 plus years, I would have done the some thing. Who wouldn’t? Sarcasim is like alcohol…Best used in moderation.

  57. Craig says:

    I read through the article and comments to date, and it appears that the definition of “sarcasm” varies quite a bit, so I appreciate the fact that people are interpreting this differently and therefore are coming to different opinions at times.

    My three cents:

    1) I think there are many, many forms of communication, and the whole point of communication is to deliver a message. Using humor (Irony/Satire) is one means to deliver that message. Other alternatives are a strait-forward delivery, sugar coating a message, screaming it in anger, sharing the message with a 3rd party in hopes that the true intended recipient hears it second-hand, not expressing the message at all, etc.

    2) Each person has a preference in how they want to receive a message. One person might appreciate hearing the message through humor, another prefers to hear it straight, another doesn’t want to hear your message at all, etc. Knowing the person we are communicating with matters a lot – because we all have different preferences.

    3) Messages that are being delivered can be positive in nature, such as an uplifting message, a constructive criticism, etc. Or messages that are being delivered can be negative in nature, such as to demean or ridicule another to feel bigger, to hurt someone who hurt you, etc.

    So…. people who don’t like to receive messages using humor (especially irony/satire which requires more thought to figure out, can be misconstrued) or those who are recipients of bad messages through humor will likely say “Sarcasm must be eradicated”. Others who enjoy receiving messages through humor, enjoy the wit/mental gymnastics, and have experienced the use of irony/satire/sarcasm with positive messages will not find it bothersome, they may find it an enjoyable way of trading messages with others.

  58. eugene says:

    What I have found in my life is exactly the opposite of your article. In my experience playing the ”Sarcasm” card is an attempt by someone, usually the person to which the statement was made, to play adult and discredit the person making the comment. Or, as I like to call it, a show stopper. I use humor as a means to point out to people that they are ignoring the facts and in many cases, these people use a show stopper like the sarcasm card, to try to throw me and try making the comment come back on me. Thus, proving their superiority and at the same time protecting themselves from the facts. While, of course, the same person will insist that they are only joking if they employ the same tool, humor.
    Calling someone sarcastic is saying, “I don’t appreciate you making me face the truth”. I will admit that some people do use humor as a weapon and say comments that are meant to hurt and make a person cave in on themselves. But, in almost all my encounters with this, the word is used as a show stopper.
    While this “Name calling” (and this is name calling) works well against someone that is indeed insecure, it is really more on the person that pulls the sarcasm card than on the person making the comment. If we are adults, we are introspective and objective in our views. However, this is not the always the case. The insecurity is really on the person pointing out the sarcasm.
    I like to point out to the name caller that the dictionary definition is;
    1: a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain
    2a: a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual

    And, that what I am doing is pointing out the facts with humor. The resulting answer of, “There are other definitions.” is just more avoiding of the facts. The definition of a word is the definition. And, someone who calls someone else sarcastic are themselves being, of all things, sarcastic as their comment is meant to cut or give pain to the person to whom they are calling names. However, by using the word, sarcasm, they protect themselves from being the person who, as you say, is making a “sneering or cutting remark”. Because, as anyone who has ever been on a playground knows, they already used the word so, it’s no fair using it after they do.

    My wife was coming down with a cold and was saying that she was not going to get sick. Through her coughing, I said, “You mean like that?”. While my wife understood I was being funny and laughed, her friend played the sarcasm card on me. This allowed both my wife and her to ignore the fact that my wife was coming down with a cold and putting me in my place. I pointed out that the definition doesn’t apply to this situation and of course was again put in my place with a stern, “There are other interpretations!” But, I’ve come to understand that some people will never face the facts and the best approach with these types is to not go for the bait and walk away. My response was, “Really?” as I turned my back on her and left the room.

    So, I’m left to think that the truth hurts when I’ve been told all my life that you should always tell the truth and now, according to your article, always tell the truth but, don’t use humor because, that’s sarcasm.

    So, while you found this to be a punch in the gut, I find it to be more of an excuse for people that are really being sarcastic so that they can feel like they put you in your place when in reality they are the ones that are being childish and sarcastic.

    I think I prefer my so called “Insecure” behavior to lying to myself and name calling.

  59. [...] ~ What Does Being Sarcastic Say About You? [...]

  60. bernie birnbaum says:

    this “article” is a data-mining software reconstruction of other articles and blog comments found else where on the internets. do a google search of sarcasm and behold the power of robots.

    by the way, which articles are the “originals” and which are fake?

  61. Kyle says:

    Gee… It’s almost as though this article was a complex way of stereotyping sarcastic people… Gasp! Oh no! IT WAS!!!
    I think Tyler Huckabee could be a little bit more… gosh… open-minded…
    Hey! Guess How long it took me to formulate this “perfect closer”! Well… all of about 60 seconds…

  62. Chase says:

    Or maybe sarcasm is just that … sarcasm. Sounds like you are looking for a answer behind something that doesn’t require an answer.

    I could say that all people who are looking for a reason for sarcasm are insecure when they are around sarcastic people.

  63. Sejla Ali says:

    I am known to be very sarcastic, especially during times of anger. I unconsciously reply with sarcasm. I want to find a better way of using my words (like Miguel Ruiz says, “be impeccable with your word”). But since it’s become so unconscious and natural, I can’t help but ask myself, why?

  64. Bryan says:

    So wait, your saying that People that are close to me and people that are not closet to me are more likely to use sarcasm? Well gosh darn it, I guess I’m lucky that I know anyone who is either close or not close to me. Probably saves me from a lot of sarcasm.

  65. It’s wonderful that you are getting ideas from this
    piece of writing as well as from our discussion made at this place.

  66. Paty says:

    Well, there are so many things that I say that get the “deer in the headlight” look, that I recently started to question myself. I figured here I would get the most honest answers. I have been told my sense of humor was dry for years. I did not know or care what that really meant, but as years went by I felt like keeping my mouth closed, ..wondering how it might be taken. here is an example of my latest encounter where I spoke freely.
    I am at the doggie spa and the owner has just had a baby. She is learning to walk and I just saw her practicing in the grass where all the pets go potty before they enter the building. I did the small talk and then bragged on the new walking abilities of her child. I asked if her child has had her Parvo and distemper shots updated, since she was barefoot and and chewing on her dog poo infested shoe? I then got the look of confusion. I bursted out into laughter because it was so freaking funny!!! Anyway … as usual I was the only one who got it. Rude or dry?

  67. Deann says:

    I am not convinced all sarcasm is bad, but the sarcastic Parvo/distemper shots comment was rude.

    It was rude because you were trying (consciously or unconsciously to communicate that letting a child walk there was not good. But you used sarcasm to do it. If you have information or criticism or complaint to communicate do it directly (or not at all) Sarcasm is an indirect way of getting your point across. It likely feels safer to you, because if they say mind your own business or if they ask if you are criticizing them you can say you were just joking. If you think something is worth saying, then it is worth saying directly. Some people don’t understand, or pretend not to understand, or are offended because you are telling them that the choice they made is bad.

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