Monday, July 28, 2014

Musing Mondays: Sarcastically Yours

I'm a perpetrator of sarcasm.

After discovering its use in eighth grade (I know, late, considering I'm about to be in tenth), I've started using it in ever-increasing quantities. Lately, however, I've been cutting back. Why?

1. Sarcasm has the capacity to hurt. I know. I've been hurt by sarcasm before, and I'm fairly sure I've hurt people with it too. Sometimes it acts as a Protego spell (in Harry Potter), rebounding your own words back at you. As a hypothetical example...

15-year-old Amy has just met a friendly acquaintance Denise for lunch. Amy tells Denise that her birthday was last week; Denise says, "So are you 15 now?" Amy says, "Noooo..." sarcastically. Both laugh, but Denise is slightly hurt by Amy's words. She genuinely wanted to know how old Amy was.

That's not a good situation for Amy to use sarcasm; first of all, because it's a genuine question. Don't use sarcasm when it's a genuine questions; it makes the other person feel foolish and uncomfortable. 

However, when it's an obvious question, sarcasm is a friendly and easy tool to use.

For example...

"So, what are you going to do when you get home?" Amy asks Tiffany while they're waiting for their moms to pick them up from school. "Oh, I'm going to eat," Tiffany says offhandedly. "Food?" Amy asks. There's a slight pause while Amy realizes her foolishness and Tiffany considers what to say. Then Tiffany says, "No, I'm going to eat bugs!"

Both can laugh during that example. It's happened in my case before, and usually the other person realizes their silliness and can laugh it off easily.

2. Sarcasm is sometimes hard to detect. Especially via the Internet, on this blog, and Instagram, it's hard to tell when a person is being serious or sarcastic. Which is why you need to be careful when you're on the Internet and you're sarcastic. If you say something incredibly drastic, like this...

In this case, put something like "*sarcasm*" or "#sarcasm" after your statement. Or just don't say a sarcastic response at all. BuzzBoy's question was probably genuine, and he'll just feel foolish. Also, you don't want to get into hot water later. Employers look at potential employees' social media, and if they come across LavaGirl's post, they might reconsider hiring her.

3. Sarcasm has the power to make a person feel like an outcast. I didn't figure sarcasm out until eighth grade. Until then, I took everything literally. Looking back, sometimes I blush at the situations I'd get myself into, taking things waaaaay too seriously. And sometimes yes, I feel like an outcast. I bump myself over the head for not understanding sarcasm before. Not understanding sarcasm isn't a sin in the Bible, but it's a sin in society.

4. You have to learn when to use sarcasm, and when not to use sarcasm. When a person asks an obvious question and a sarcastic response pops into my brain, I sometimes analyze if my sarcasm will benefit the conversation. Will the other person feel bad because they didn't recognize the obvious? Or will they be able to laugh it off with me? I've begun to learn to stop using unnecessary sarcasm in real-life situations, probably because maybe I've become a little more sensitive in that area. 

I think that you learn skillful and sensitive sarcasm by experiencing its effects and subconsciously analyzing what they do to other people. Knowing self-control with sarcasm is a trait of maturity.

5. In order to be funny, you don't need sarcasm. Sometimes I feel like, in order to be funny, I need to put others down.. That's not true. Funny can come in different forms--slapstick, ridiculous, and just plain old weird--and sarcasm is only one option. It's probably not the best tool either. It's sharp and when you use it the wrong way, it can hurt.

~picture from

So be careful. Just like you're handling a knife, handle sarcasm well. Let your yeses be "yes" and your nos be "no," as James says in the Bible. When it's humorous, use it. When it's humorous at the expense of other people, don't.

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