Sometimes sarcasm can but hurtful. Sometimes it can be downright cutting. What is the right way to use sarcasm, and why can it be such a minefield?
The Purpose of Sarcasm
What exactly is sarcasm? I mean, we all know what it is, what it sounds like, and how it’s delivered, but what is its purpose?
Sarcasm is a way to make a statement indirectly. Sometimes it’s used to make a point; other times it’s used to try to be funny. Often it’s used simply to avoid being direct to, allowing you to make a statement without fully committing to it. In other words it’s a way of saying what’s on your mind with plausible deniability.
When the purpose of sarcasm can be so muddy, the results can be just as unclear. A joke can feel insulting and a deflection can feel like a direct attack.
So what is the right way to use sarcasm?
The Right Way to Use Sarcasm
Since the purpose of sarcasm is to be indirect, it makes things challenging to begin with. Instead of directly confronting a negative comment, sarcasm is used to make the commenter feel small.
Instead of being direct with how you feel about someone, sarcasm is used as humor to take a strike but with plausible deniability. Ironically, there’s nothing plausible about the deniability to anyone who’s listening.
The purpose of sarcasm is rarely good, almost always indirect, and typically turns out poorly. It’s a passive aggressive way to express your feelings without any real accountability. It’s often used to demean, poke fun at, or belittle the recipient.
Too often, its goal is simply to make one feel superior while making others feel inferior. Instead of being direct and being honest, people are indirect with veiled attacks.
So what’s the right way to use sarcasm? The best way… is simply not to use sarcasm at all.