On Sarcasm

9 Comments
Posted 25 Mar 2008 in Blogs, Darkness, Light, Ministry, Spirituality

As of late the topic of sarcasm seems to rest heavy on my mind and heart. The Easter season has something to do with it – bringing me to remembrance of hope and joy and reason for celebration. For me these stand in strong contrast to a sarcastic demeanor.

When I find myself being really sarcastic I also find myself being very critical. Other people’s sarcasm and critical spirit infects me, I know this to be true, leading me to believe the same goes for the other direction. When I’m reading blogs that are overly sarcastic and critical of the Church and others, I fall into agreement and it builds divisions in my heart between myself and others trying to follow Jesus. In a community I find a critical spirit to be a slow, dry, rot, deteriorating the foundation and threatening collapse.

Today, in google reader, I unsubscribed to a blog I enjoyed at first for it’s witty satire and tongue-in-cheek-ness. Since that honeymoon phase all posts have continued in the same sarcastic vein with rare glimpses of hope and hardly any encouragement. The decision to stop reading comes in hopes to keep my spirit from being divisive and to keep it from being crushed under the weight of a bleak outlook on life and the Church.

This is something I’m still working through, I don’t know that I’d say sarcasm is always wrong and always hurtful, I think I’m just coming to a realization that it’s often a cheap laugh and at someone’s (or organization’s) expense and therefore hardly edifying.

What do you think?

—————-
Now playing: jon foreman – In My Arms
via FoxyTunes


50 Comments

  1. Cap'n A-Hab

    Sarcasm is one of my favorite tools, but I clearly find it to be a problem in many a situation. I find myself working through it’s inherent dividing of people in contract to it’s connecting those that agree with a sarcastic comment. I think audience is important and attitude that it fosters.

    I know with some friends sarcasm is a way to build friendship as we share it amongst ourselves, but when it affects my views outside of those comments, it becomes a problem.

    It is a complex subject…and I probably didn’t speak anything too new, but you asked what I thought. 🙂

  2. Ben

    I think the problem in sarcasm is not sarcasm itself, but the potential it has to deliver harsh criticism and negativity. There’s the sort of remarks that points something out as ridiculous – so ridiculous that I can just assume that everyone around me agrees how ridiculous it is.

    I think it’s that negative attitude – of not bothering to understand that the person or idea you’re talking about has something real or meaningful attached to it – that’s where problems come across.

  3. nick

    Alan:
    Thanks for commenting. I agree sarcasm can be a unifying thing – uniting people of a common view. I see a strong difference between being sarcastic for humors sake and being sarcastic to de-construct an ideology in a way the uses humor to mock it. The second is more what I’m not OK with.

    Ben:
    I think you’re right, maybe this is more what I was getting at. Especially in my response to Alan just now. The sarcasm isn’t necessarily the peice out of place, rather the cynical spirit, the harsh critcism, the negativity – those are. That and the separation of the idea from REAL people who hold the view you’re ridiculing.

    All:
    I believe this is much more a person-to-person thing, but if someone is overly sarcastic in a harsh way toward a belief I have, I feel as if I’ve been mocked. Defenses go up and emotions rise as I react in much the same manner as if someone has called me unintelligent.

    To further explain thoughts for the original post, my reaction to the specific blog I had unsubscribed to had turned bad. This I believe to be because while I agreed with the criticism the author was offering about the Church, I failed to see any better ideas presented. So I continued to see mocking and de-construction happening with no offer to make things better, no offer of hope. That feels bleak to me.

  4. josh w

    I’m going to have to go the extra step beyond what the rest of you are saying. I regret my habit of sarcasm very frequently, because I think it is only detrimental, and when it is unifying and comedic, it is uniting persons in a spirit of mockery.

    Can anyone offer an example of sarcasm that does not include a cynical mindset and a victim who is degraded in some way?

    It feels okay on the occasions when the victim is not present. I think anytime someone has been sarcastic to my face I have been very angered. The other person, I’m sure, thought it was “just a joke.” Those who are hurt by sarcasm rarely express it, at least not immediately.

  5. nick

    Josh:
    Sarcasm to your face makes me think you were the butt of the joke, or the mocked person in the scenario. Thus you were probably rightly offended.

    I don’t know that I would agree that “those hurt by sarcasm rarely express it, at least not immediately” This seems much more dependent on the person, their maturity level and their character – though I find myself in this category, but less and less these days. Am I content being ridiculed and mocked and not bringing those hurts and wrongs to the attention of the aggressor? Further, am I content holding onto that anger and growing bitter only for it to seep out later? These flesh out the “maturity and character” aspects. The subtlety being if the answers to those are YES, character and maturity need growth.

    While it might “feel” OK when the victim isn’t present, integrity and character tell me otherwise. I tend to think you might agree with me – this case reeks of gossip, talking behind someones back, etc.

    Purely from the definition of sarcasm I would agree that it aims to degrade and involves cynicism. So far in this discussion I feel we’ve sort of separated two forms of sarcasm out – that INTENDED to be degrading and that INTENDED in fun/unification of a group.

    An example that isn’t degrading or mocking:
    (Between Amy and I recently referencing when I asked her out)
    N:”Hey, remember that time when I drove you home and told you I liked hanging out with you and would like to do more of that and asked you if I could take you to dinner? Do you remember that?”
    A:”Um, nope. Not familiar, when was that? (smiles)”
    N:”November 3, 2007 about 1:00AM”

    True we were being playful and goofing around, but her response was sarcastic – she obviously remembered when I asked her out and she was mocking the idea that she wouldn’t remember such a thing.

  6. Ben

    @Josh Not to be self-promoting, but my most recent blog post is probably an example of sarcasm that doesn’t really have a victim and isn’t really critical.

    http://typo180.com/index.php/2008/03/27/johnny-depp-hates-tall-people/

  7. josh w

    Nick and Ben: fantastic examples, both of you, and I concede the point.

    A clarifying point on my previous post: when I said it feels okay when the victim is not present, I was not condoning sarcasm in those situations. I meant to express a situation that is often wrong without appearing so, since moral judgments and feelings/emotions are often linked whether we like it or not.

    Moving on…

    I think I am in rare company in this conversation. Generally when I think of sarcasm I imagine biting comments and criticisms stated in an ironic manner. Sometimes people intend this to be used in jest as well, and it only offends. Neither of the examples you offered really fit this.

    I was talking with Ben about this in person, and it’s hard to clarify what makes sarcasm fun or not fun.

    A couple of thoughts I’ll offer:

    1) Sarcasm where playful teasing and friendly bonding involving little or no embarrassment in front of third parties is the primary goal on the part of the speaker is okay. Sarcasm where bringing attention to oneself is the primary goal regardless of the other is not.

    2) Sarcasm where the speaker is also the victim is okay. Making fun of one’s self is safe, offends no one, and keeps third parties at ease.

    3) Outrageous and ironic statements are okay (e.g., Ben’s “Johnny Depp hates tall people” because they can’t have the extras in the movie be too tall).

    4) The subject of sarcasm should be nothing in which either the speaker or the other involved in the joke are personally invested (e.g., don’t make sarcastic comments about me taking sailing lessons if I’m passionate about it).

    I like this conversation, so please offer more feedback.

  8. chris ridgeway

    hi. I’ll stop lurking. 🙂 This is good stuff.

    My thoughts on this (as an incurably sarcastic person) are definitely toward where this conversation is ending up – that sarcasm can be used for good OR evil (just like any language construction, actually).

    The definition seems to have morphed over the years.

    I think calling sarcasm bad is just like calling a genre of music bad (i.e. I wouldn’t). But there are also certain genres of music that have been negative so regularly (e.g. gansta rap’s often degrading view of women) that they’ve become associated or creeped into the definition.

    Whereas, my view has been this wider def: “A verbal tone in which it is obvious from context that the speaker means the opposite of what he or she says. Thick irony” (I would say with some skill it can be written as well).

    …now one web definition reads: “Bitter or cutting speech; speech intended by its speaker to give pain to the person addressed.”

    Because both definitions are out there now, I just think it’s hard to talk about without defining terms (which is what already happened in this conversation, so I don’t know if i’m contributing much more – ha)

    Josh: interesting side tangent (which maybe you’d already agree with) – I think self-deprecating humor is okay sometimes and damaging sometimes. Some people with a healthy self-image will make comments about themselves to their continued humility and the humor of the room, but it also tends to be a habit of those who are severly imbalanced on their self-view, and I think this can not only reinforce self-destruction, but hurt a social network which is usually forms a coping mechanism (“oh shut up – you’re not fat!”) that breeds distrust. uh, yep. my sum: self-victimizing okay sometimes, really evil sometimes.

  9. Amy Van Nada

    I like this thread. Been an interesting read. I think I agree with all of it and have very little to add, and though we’re probably all on the same page, it’s been fun to see different facets and points be fleshed out and expanded upon.

    Good topic, good thoughts.

  10. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Many thanks! Quite a lot of write ups.

    viagra suppliers in the uk viagra and cialis and
    viagra without a doctor prescription
    buy viagra in algodones – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  11. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Information very well applied!.

    walgreens viagra generic form of viagra
    viagra 100mg
    order viagra air travel – https://genericviagrantx.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  12. Your comment is awaiting moderation.
  13. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You reported it perfectly!

    how to make viagra work better mecican viagra
    viagra 100mg
    common spice viagra – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  14. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Wow a good deal of valuable advice.

    is viagra better viagra prices 50mg and 100mg
    viagra without a doctors prescription
    viagra for twenty six year old – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  15. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You’ve made the point.

    loss of vision viagra viagra and arginine nitrate
    viagra without a doctors prescription
    aspirin vs viagra – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  16. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Cheers, Helpful information.

    buy viagra for less viagra from indiana pharmacy
    viagra 100mg
    viagra next day – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  17. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Excellent forum posts. With thanks.

    viagra recipes viagra customer service
    viagra for women
    viagra jokes – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  18. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Valuable data. Thanks!

    eyesight viagra viagra rapid absorbtion
    buy viagra
    generic viagra without a percription – https://genericviagrantx.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  19. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Cheers. A good amount of stuff!

    viagra erection continues after sex retail price of 100mg viagra
    viagra for women
    canadian discount pharmicies viagra cialis – https://genericviagrantx.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  20. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Perfectly spoken really. .

    viagra miligrams wanted to buy viagra
    buy viagra
    post haste pharmacy viagra – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  21. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Truly tons of beneficial knowledge.

    watermelon rhine natural viagra reliable 0nline viagra websites
    generic viagra 100mg
    court lawsuits on viagra – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  22. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Awesome write ups. With thanks!

    viagra uk purchase who sings viva viagra commercial
    generic viagra online
    female viagra does – https://genericviagrantx.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  23. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Thank you. An abundance of advice!

    viagra online includes consultation how safe is viagra
    generic viagra online
    viagra halifax street – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  24. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You actually said that exceptionally well.

    half price network viagra viagra and erections
    generic viagra online
    natual alternative to viagra – https://genericviagrantx.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  25. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Wonderful forum posts. Thank you!

    buy viagra levitra alternative lavitra viagra cost private pay
    cheap viagra
    viagra blogspot – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  26. Your comment is awaiting moderation.
  27. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Amazing plenty of excellent tips.

    buy viagra order viagra playboy viagra
    viagra without a doctors prescription
    viagra effects on erections – https://genericviagrantx.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  28. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You actually stated this exceptionally well!

    whats works levitra cialis or viagra viagra viagra pages edinburgh find free
    viagra 100mg
    viagra for sale in the uk – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  29. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Regards, Loads of forum posts.

    viagra and cayenne viagra rapid absorbtion
    viagra pills
    official viagra – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  30. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Thanks a lot, Wonderful stuff.

    does doxazosin react to viagra prescription viagra
    viagra online
    is viagra safe for minors – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  31. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Nicely put, With thanks!

    what is maximum dose for viagra mode d’emploi viagra
    buy viagra online
    peruvian viagra – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  32. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You actually said that superbly.

    does pink viagra really work female viagra pulmonary hypertension
    generic viagra 100mg
    bottom dweller viagra – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  33. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You mentioned that exceptionally well.

    viagra tablet grapefruit and viagra
    generic viagra 100mg
    on line perscription for viagra – https://genericviagrantx.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  34. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Wonderful postings. Regards.

    is generic viagra fda approved viagra and no perscription
    viagra 100mg
    how to get prescribed viagra – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  35. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Kudos. Ample material!

    viagra long term use liver viagra on line uk
    viagra for sale uk
    generic viagra online uk – https://genericviagrantx.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  36. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Really lots of great data!

    viagra pharmacy online sale generic viagra fast delivery
    generic viagra
    viagra prostate removal – https://genericviagrantx.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  37. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You actually explained this effectively!

    viagra vascular viagra and pregnancy
    viagra generic
    how safe is viagra from canada – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  38. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Wow tons of very good material!

    real viagra online cheap pill comparison cialis viagra
    generic viagra 100mg
    viagra seller – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  39. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Useful write ups. Many thanks!

    will medicare pay for viagra canadian pharmacy cheap generic viagra
    cheap viagra
    safe viagra alternatives – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  40. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Very well spoken genuinely. .

    viagra pages edinburgh search find free do women like viagra
    generic viagra online
    if viagra dose not work – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  41. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Seriously loads of awesome facts.

    weak indian viagra viagra prescription refills
    buy generic viagra
    pfizer viagra pharmacy – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  42. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Many thanks! A good amount of facts!

    free sample of viagra or cialis viagra and infertility
    buy viagra online
    viagra cautions – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  43. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You reported that fantastically!

    viagra dossage lisinopril with viagra
    viagra pills
    viagra perscription – https://genericviagrantx.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  44. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You have made your point pretty nicely!!

    lavitra effectiveness compared to viagra cheap viagra edinburgh find pages sites
    buy generic viagra
    indk b viagra – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  45. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Regards! A good amount of content.

    viagra mn teachers herb same effect as viagra
    buy viagra
    how to sell viagra – https://genericviagrantx.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  46. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Whoa tons of good data.

    can viagra be split watermelon as viagra
    generic viagra 100mg
    viagra testimonils – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  47. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Helpful content. Thanks a lot.

    viagra post surgery cheap kamagra generic viagra videos
    generic viagra online
    viagra prescription low cost – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  48. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Awesome postings. Thank you.

    nonprescription viagra edinburgh uk viagra search find posted
    viagra generic
    subaction showcomments viagra optional remember – https://genericviagramsl.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  49. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Regards. Ample knowledge.

    has anyone injected viagra order viagra with mastercard
    viagra pills
    side effects viagra flushing – https://genericviagrantx.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay

  50. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You made your point extremely clearly!.

    free viagra pen affect of viagra on woman
    cheap viagra
    what does generic viagra look like – https://genericviagrarcp.com

    Davidplaky
    TerenceAlcok
    Victorpepay



Add Your Comment