Sarcasm can be mean, it can be unhealthy, and can hurt relationships; yet so many people treat sarcasm as a personality trait synonymous with cool, clever, and witty. I have a problem with sarcasm for a variety of reasons; primarily because a lot of people use sarcasm inappropriately and cause a lot of damage in the process. My main reasons for hating sarcasm are these: people use it as a weapon and an excuse for bad social skills, it’s bad communication, it’s an unhealthy coping mechanism, and people treat it like a personality trait.
Sarcasm as a Weapon
The definition of sarcasm from Merriam-Webster is: a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain: a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual: the use or language of sarcasm.
Do what you will with this definition, but to me, it says that sarcasm is often used to hurt.
Sarcasm is generally used as an excuse for people to be or say mean things, then avoid taking responsibility for hurting others because *Sarcasm*. Sarcasm isn’t a get out of jail free card for being a shitty person. A lot of people will say something that’s unfair or mean then follow up with “I’m being sarcastic!” I dated a guy that would say something cruel or mean, then would follow up with “I’m only being facetious.” Even though these aren’t the same thing, they were used the same way; to treat someone else with contempt and take no responsibility for the damage inflicted.
So many people behave this way because they think it makes them look cool, or they are simply showing their true colors. Regardless, I think sarcasm is disrespectful and should only be used when other people aren’t included. It’s okay to be sarcastic to things that can’t be hurt emotionally, but it’s irresponsible to be sarcastic to people, especially loved ones. Sarcasm is for irony, not hurting others.
Sarcasm as Bad Communication
Whether it’s intentional or not, sarcasm is often bad communication. Especially when it’s not obvious that someone is using sarcasm to communicate, such as in text messages or other communication that doesn’t happen face-to-face. Also, if you are talking to someone who doesn’t get sarcasm or you aren’t effectively or appropriately using sarcasm it can lead to miscommunication of unpredictable consequences. Humans are really bad at communicating, why bother making it harder on ourselves by intentionally using a nuanced form of communication?
This brings me back to using sarcasm to hurt others. Intentionally using sarcasm to mislead or confuse is cruel and abusive. Additionally, if someone is using sarcasm to invalidate or gaslight another person, they are being abusive.
Sarcasm as an Unhealthy Coping Mechanism
Sarcasm is also used to avoid talking about an issue by shutting communication down. How often do you want to continue talking to someone about a problem when they respond to one of your statements with sarcasm? A lot of people are flippant about serious situations to stop dialogue about the issue. It’s never healthy to cease communication with a loved one when the issue is uncomfortable. We should always say what we mean, especially when the context of the situation is important.
Being Sarcastic is Like Being Nice, it’s Not a Personality Trait
Being sarcastic isn’t a personality trait. It’s a behavior. Just like being nice isn’t a personality trait, it’s a behavior (and the bare minimum at that). A lot of people take pride in their “sarcastic personality” because they think it makes them cool or interesting, but honestly, people like this are just, exhausting, assholes, toxic people (or C, all of the above). I also think that someone who take pride in their sarcasm are largely uninteresting and disingenuous.
Use Sarcasm When the Situation is Appropriate
Sarcasm is really only appropriate in lighthearted situations and when not used against someone else. I love sarcasm when someone is using it in satire or as commentary on social concerns that aren’t heavy. Sarcasm about being single at the expense of the population’s beliefs about single people are hilarious. Sarcasm about being single at the expense of yourself or someone else isn’t always appropriate. Be critical about how you communicate with others, and if you do hurt someone with sarcasm and you notice it or they say something, take responsibility and correct yourself.
I’m not saying people should stop using sarcasm entirely. Instead, we should use sarcasm consciously and only when it’s appropriate. Sarcasm can be funny, witty, and fun when used appropriately, but should never be done at the expense of yourself or others.