The definition of sarcasm is to be ironic for the sake of mockery. Sarcasm is used to convey an insult or criticism in a way that is supposed to be witty and amusing, but there’s a catch! The person being sarcastic shouldn’t betray their true intentions or feelings; they customarily mean the opposite of what they’re saying, which may baffle the subject.
Sarcasm is acknowledged as an essential social skill nowadays, and those who don’t get it are said to lack in grey matter. The ability to be sarcastic and understand sarcasm is frequently linked with intelligence and wits.
Interpreting and applying sarcasm elevates brain activity, so it ultimately makes you more perceptive and sharp. It is common practice to be sarcastic through speech, as sarcasm has a lot to do with context and one’s tone of voice.
Nonetheless, many people communicate sarcasm though facial expressions, body language, and hand gestures as well. For example, eye rolling is frequently used to show disapproval and displeasure.
What is the Purpose of Sarcasm?
Sarcasm is typically used as a retort for statements that are too obvious, bogus, infuriating, or generally pointless. Other times, the person using sarcasm is simply biased or holds some personal grudge against the target.
Even so, sarcasm is rarely aimed at offending somebody or hurting another person’s feelings. Sarcastic people consider themselves funny, even if the humor they project is dark or somewhat inappropriate for a situation.
Many stand-up comedians and famous folks from the entertainment industry have built their career on satire. Sarcasm is a well-praised technique for tomfoolery and harmless fun, as long as the target doesn’t take it too seriously.
The best of show runners are the ones who make themselves the scapegoat for sarcasm. The audience loves a public figure who is comfortable airing their own dirty laundry instead of making fun of others only.
Every so often people may use sarcasm as a means to demonstrate that they are much smarter than the average human being, and that their sense of humor is far too advanced for mere mortals. Unfortunately, people who excel at sarcasm develop an air of arrogance or what you may call a superiority complex.
On the contrary, perpetually sarcastic remarks could be a coping mechanism as well; people with deep-rooted insecurities don a sarcastic personality to conceal social awkwardness and appear chill.
People living a hard life may use sarcasm to lighten the mood and calm their nerves; hence, you can call it their silver lining or lifesaving drug. To conclude, the motivation behind employing sarcasm varies from individual to individual.
An unceasingly sarcastic person may seem bitter, be the most obnoxious person in your social circle, come across as exceedingly intellectual and charming, occur as surprisingly hilarious, or all of the above.
What if I don’t understand or appreciate sarcasm?
Sarcasm may not be your cup of tea, but that’s okay as long as you can easily identify it. If you are able to tell when another person is being sarcastic, it’s all well and good. You don’t have to be ironic yourself in order to exhibit that you are astute.
Moreover, you don’t need to appreciate sarcasm or pretend to be impressed by individuals who embody it. However, getting provoked by sarcastic comments is another story. Sadly, people who cannot tolerate sarcasm are usually viewed as overly sensitive or dim-witted.
Don’t feel anxious or left out if you tend to miss out on sarcasm. Nobody is born with the ability to be sarcastic, which is why children below the age of twelve rarely recognize it. The skills to be sarcastic are attained by choice and the projected humor is an acquired taste.
You can always refer to Chandler Bing if you need a lesson in sarcasm; according to various online sources, Sarcasm 101 happens in the eleventh episode of Season 5 of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
People with mental disorders, such as autism, struggle to comprehend sarcasm. This happens because autistic individuals assume the literal meaning of whatever is said to them; assimilating jokes and teasing can be difficult if the person communicating is not explicit in their manner. Nevertheless, anyone can develop a knack for sarcasm through research and exposure over time.
How do I respond to Sarcasm?
Sarcasm itself is the only viable tool to counteract sarcasm, so you know the drill. If someone is being snarky with you and you want to put them in their place, all you got to do is play along. Most of the time, the person being sarcastic does not expect the subject to retort or say something intelligible in response.
Their goal is to embarrass the target or pull their leg to assert dominance. Therefore, when you come up with a witty comeback every time, they will get irritated and admit defeat. Let me give you an example to further elaborate how it’s done:
Gloria: Cute shoes! Did you buy them at the dollar store?
Fiona: Yes I did! I never took you as someone who would shop at the dollar shop!
Gloria: Are you kidding me?
Fiona: Of course not! I always assumed you were filthy rich.
Gloria: I’m already tired of this conversation.
Fiona: You do seem cranky today. Is it because you cannot afford Starbucks anymore?
As it turns out, Gloria was the one who initiated the sarcasm, but Fiona took on the challenge and finished strong. If you don’t wish to engage in a game of mockery, you can just roll your eyes and walk away.
The Origin of Sarcasm
I did some research and found a few articles claiming that the Vikings were the first to introduce the concept of sarcasm. However, later I discovered that it also has ties with Greek mythology, which goes way back. If irony is second to your nature, you would be pleased to know about the divine leader of sarcasm.
Momus, the embodiment of satire and mockery in Greek mythology, was quite an influential figure. She is known as the daughter of Nyx (Greek goddess of night), as well as the idol for poets and writers.
Momus, the designated goddess of sarcasm, was once invited to give her opinion on three competing deities, namely Athena, Hephaestus, and Poseidon. She criticized Athena for crafting the house without wheels (so the owner could take it with them on travel), taunted Hephaestus for creating Pandora without a door on her chest (to see what’s in her heart) and made fun of Poseidon for making Taurus with eyes under its horns (since the horns would block sight of its intended victims).
According to Aphrodite, Momus was a blabbermouth who wore squeaky sandals and had the audacity to make fun of Zeus in relation to his adultery with Hera. Her shenanigans led to her expulsion from Mount Olympus, but she was called back when Zeus needed advice for solving earthly problems. It was Momus who suggested the creation of Helena who became the cause of the famous Trojan War in Greek mythology.
Elijah Cole is the founder of The Witty Minds blog and a professional content creator. His expertise lies in creative writing and lifestyle blogging. At Witty Minds, he is the lead writer, editor, and publisher of all original content.