All of us have experienced the sting of sarcasm at one time or another. On the surface we normally dismiss it as a little humor, but it can also be extremely hurtful. Typically, the content of the statement is not the issue; it’s how the tone of those words is expressed.
Realize that when someone expresses sarcasm, it is a mirror to the person’s own insecurities and a self-destructive way to strengthen self-respect. How can people be happy with themselves when their apparent joy is the result of being verbally destructive toward another person? Sarcasm is often hurtful to the recipient, and it diminishes the character and the self-respect of the individual delivering the sarcasm.
I have also found it interesting how sarcastic individuals seem gleeful and feel clever after they shoot their sarcastic venom. It is never clever to demean another person, for it is a self-poisoning attribute. In many respects, sarcasm has become a part of everyday existence. It can be in jest, but many times it is used as an underhanded subtle attack on others.
What do we teach our children when we are an example of being sarcastic? It encourages a belief that sarcasm is an acceptable behavior and supports the illusion that sarcasm is a positive attribute because it generates attention. We need to embolden our children, and their friends, to take the high road by being respectful and not degrading. It will pay dividends in the long run and only generate greater individual leadership and peer respect.
In the process of conducting constructive discourse in an adult or business setting, there is no place for sarcasm. It distracts attention away from the discourse and redirects purposeful discussion to personal accusations and innuendos. In many cases, sarcastic remarks are used as a defense mechanism to attempt to relinquish accountability for the potential negative outcome of the discourse. Inevitably this is a losing strategy, both personally and professionally.
Finally, sarcasm is an attempt to substantiate superior intellect over others and justify an elitist attitude. Sarcasm may appear clever and humorous at the time it is used, but no one takes sarcasm as a serious indicator of an individual’s level of intelligence, integrity, and character. Most important, sarcasm deteriorates the amount of trust that is established between people.
The old saying, “If you have nothing positive to say about someone don’t say it,” is in need of being reinvigorated in our ever-increasing verbally sniping society. So enjoy taking the high road and establishing a non-sarcastic example that is respected by all.