Sarcasm. Love it or Hate it?

Sarcasm is a funny thing. And I don’t necessarily mean funny hah-hah. The difference in meanings used when we make a sarcastic remark often conveys disapproval or scorn which some people find hurtful or a bit below the belt. No doubt, in certain instances, sarcasm can be quite cutting but it can also have impact. For instance, if I said to my husband, “Thanks so much for all your help with cleaning the house,” whilst he was sitting watching TV, he would probably take more notice of my sarcastic tone than if I was to say “Can you help with the cleaning please?” which would no doubt fall on deaf ears.

Oscar Wilde wrote that “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but the highest form of intelligence,” and generally I find that people seem to either enjoy this sense of double meaning quips or hate it. Some are afraid of sarcasm because quite often the comments can be barbed or contemptuous. Communication experts and marriage counsellors often advise against using sarcasm because it can be seen as a bit of a put down. But recent research now says that sarcasm can actually promote creativity so perhaps Oscar Wilde was right after all. It seems that both people involved in a sarcastic exchange have to think creatively to come up with a sarcastic comment and then understand the contradiction between the literal and actual meanings.

Oscar Wilde – dreaming up a sarcastic remark

Me

Me? I love a bit of sarcasm. I’ve grown up in a family with quite a dry, sarcastic sense of humour where we were all encouraged to “laugh at ourselves.” This had an impact on my life in several ways. At school, I gravitated towards the girls who shared a similar sense of humour. No being part of the cool gang for me. Instead my friends and I were the ones laughing, mocking or making cutting remarks about certain situations, but mostly about each other. Our shared appreciation for general mickey taking and dry humour has spanned almost 3 decades and I’m proud to say that we are still the same whenever we get together now.

Context

Surely sarcasm is all about context and who you’re talking to. I’m very sarcastic with people I know and trust, –  like my family and close friends. People who I know won’t be offended by my dry comments. But I’d never dream of being sarcastic with someone I’d only just met (not unless they’d made a quip to me first!). I also mostly avoid sarcasm in emails and text messages. Written communication, especially when you’re not there to deliver a withering look along with the verbal message can only lead to an avalanche of “what did you mean by that?” or “Do you hate me?” replies.

Sarcasm with Kids

It occurred to me the other day. At what point do we develop a sarcastic sense of humour? At what point do children understand it? I had this thought whilst dealing with my 3 year old in the toilet. She has a habit of disappearing upstairs, stripping off naked to go for a poo, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day, and then hollering down for me when she’s finished. As I traipsed upstairs to do my duty, I casually remarked “Oh goody, it’s mummy’s favourite job of the day.”  She beamed up at me and now, I swear, whenever she goes for a poo and shouts out for me, she yells, “Mummy! It’s your favourite job of the day,” with absolutely no hint of irony at all.

I wonder at what point the penny suddenly drops? At what point in our life do we suddenly realise, “She’s having me on. She doesn’t really mean that at all.”?

I’d love to know what you think. Are you sarcastic? Do you appreciate a sarcastic sense of humour or do you prefer to say what you mean?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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30 thoughts on “Sarcasm. Love it or Hate it?

  1. I love the bit about the toilet! Are you sure she’s not being sarcastic back? I wouldn’t put it past her!! And have always loved your sense of humour Cheryl – sarcasm included! x

  2. Interesting I have only ever heard tge first part of the Oscar Wilde quote to convey sarcasm as negative. The second part makes me feel better about how sarcastic I can be. #bigpinklink

    1. Funny isn’t it how we mostly only hear the first part? Don’t worry you’re not alone in being sarcastic!

  3. Oh this really made me giggle – can just hear your little girl saying those words with a big smile on her face – but you’re right. when does sarcasm develop? I don’t mind sarcasm at all but as long as it is kind and in context! You’re so right about the written form though as there is no way of intonating that it’s sarcasm! #BigPinkLink
    justsayingmum recently posted…The Tab That’s Open On My LaptopMy Profile

    1. Thank you 😀 am going to have to keep an eye on the youngest to see if and when she ever starts to understand it! X

  4. I am very sarcastic, with a dry sense of humour that not everyone gets, to my detriment quite often. As you say, it should only be used with like minded people or they just won’t get it.
    #coolmumcub

  5. I like sarcasm and I can be sarcastic but hopefully not in a mean way, I love the british sense of humour and the way we can make a joke out of something or ourselves and not take it too seriously. Laughing was probably one of the biggest things that helped get me through having 2 under 2 and I also use that ‘Yay mummy’s favourite job’ when my 3 yr old shouts ‘Im Finished!’ xx #coolmumclub

    1. You’re right, this humour does get you through! Glad I’m not the only one with that kind of favourite job!!! X

  6. I love sarcasm, It’s totally my humour. I hate it when I say something hilarious and sarcastic to my children and it’s just wasted on them. Your toilet story is hilarious. When she starts school you KNOW there will be one show and tell where she announces “and mummy’s favourite job is wiping my bum” 😂 #coolmumclub

    1. Hah!! I hope it won’t get featured in show and tell!! You’re right, it’s such a shame when you make a wisecracking comment and it goes over the kids heads!

  7. I love a bit of sarcasm. My son used to take everything quite literal but over the years he’s slowly figured it out, but you can tell by the look on his face sometimes that he’s not entirely sure. He has a great sense of humour though and has started practicing it a little himself, although we tell him he can only do it with us otherwise they might think he’s being rude. It’s the way I was I raised and as a family we all have a very dry sense of humour x
    #coolnumclub

    1. I wish I knew how old your son was as it would give me an idea of when my kids might start to understand it! X

  8. Of I have to admit I am a huge fan of sarcasm, in fact I think it runs in my family! The bit about your daughter and the toilet really made me giggle, I’m intrigued to see when they really start to get a grasp of sarcasm. Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x

    1. I do think it all comes down to how you were brought up as to whether you like it or not! Thanks for hosting! X

  9. I am a massive lover and user of sarcasm. It’s one of the only ways I know how to be funny! I agree about avoiding written sarcasm though…unless you know the recipient incredibly well so you know there is no risk of offence. I do love the bit about your daughter on the toilet though – I could imagine myself in that situation!! #CoolMumClub
    Angela Watling recently posted…A decade of blogging…. My Profile

  10. I am incredibly sarcastic – I get it from my dad – but not as much as I used to be as it gets lost on a lot of people. Even my best friend sometimes looks at me and asks “are you joking”. My work colleagues are never sure how to take it either when I make the odd remark as it’s quite unusual for me to do so at work. I can pretty much always tell when someone is being sarcastic though, it seems to be a dying art! #coolmumclub

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