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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sarcasm

As I've observed sarcasm in social interactions, I've noted that those who use it tend to underestimate its negative effects because they assume that what they say is humorous instead of hurtful. People who use sarcasm often think their targets are too sensitive or naïve when feelings get hurt. “She just can’t take a joke,” they say. In more disturbing cases, sarcasm communicates contempt for others and gives people the “dishonest opportunity to wound without looking like they’re wounding.”8 If someone feels hurt by such sarcasm, the one who made the verbal jab will often respond with something like, “I was only teasing! Lighten up.” ~Jennifer Grace Jones, Ensign. Aug, 2013
Sarcasm, as I understand it, is irony directed at a person. It's saying something we don't mean. Which, by definition, is not truthful. Now, just to clarify, I believe there is a difference between sarcasm directed at a person and being facetious about a situation. Facetiousness is saying "Lovely weather we're having" while you and your friend are running through pouring rain. (Unless, of course, you happen to adore downpours. In which case that's simply a statement of opinion.) But when sarcasm is directed at people, it can have a wounding effect. Even though we don't *really* mean what we say.
Think of Sherlock, or House. Hilarious on television, but would you really want one of them in your circle of friends? They make people cry on a regular basis, and we laugh. However, in real life, that's not so funny. Sarcastic humor can be contagious. It's a habit that I've sometimes fallen into, and it's not always easy to break.

When we're dealing with fellow human beings, we need to be careful to treat them with great respect. I now believe that this includes not saying things we don't mean about other people, even if it's *funny*. I've had miscommunications in the past when I've quoted funny, sarcastic sayings and people thought I was serious. It didn't exactly improve my relationship with those people and it's too late to go back and fix it now. I didn't mean what I said, but there's always the danger of being misunderstood. Granted, we can't prevent all miscommunications, but if we always say what we mean, we'll be much less likely to be misinterpreted. And if we're striving to be strictly honest in our communication, it will be easier for us to clarify what we meant.
If we all make an effort to live by the golden rule, I think the world will be a happier place. Say unto others only what you would want them to say unto you. Treat others with kindness, in word and deed; you'll feel better, and so will they. Can we make this a thing? Even if we disagree with someone, we don't have to be disagreeable about it. And when we're talking with our friends, how much more should we strive to lift them up and make sure they know we love them.
Well, that's it for this week. I wish you all a happy week.