Last Monday, I posted a bit about why I almost always choose sincerity over employing sarcasm or snark. The comments (as always) were fantastic. Commenter Thomas Allen Gardner made a great point, that by juxtaposing Sincerity against Sarcasm/Snark, I’m saying that Sarcasm/Snark cannot ever be sincere, and I thought that was interesting. Here’s a small example I used in my initial post, about how sarcasm usually misses the mark with me, which I’ll elaborate on below:
(Husband hands me a breakfast burrito, and I bite into it.)
Me: Wow, this is delicious! You should teach me how to make these!
Husband: I dunno, it’s pretty complicated. Not sure I can replicate it, actually.
Me: Oh. Well, next time, let me watch you, and I’ll write it down.
Husband: … … What? I was joking. I just throw things together, and it takes me about three minutes. It’s a completely ghetto breakfast burrito.
Now, Thomas might say that my husband sincerely wanted me to know that it really was simple to fix that breakfast burrito, and Thomas would be right. I was wrong to contrast Sincerity against Sarcasm/Snark, in that regard. Here’s what I meant, now that I’ve had a few more days to mull this over.
In the circumstance above, it’s not necessarily the sarcasm that rubs me the wrong way–as a denizen of the Internet, I can, and do, accept sarcasm regularly–it’s the subjugation of what I was trying to communicate. I was–albeit passively–trying to pay my husband a compliment. “Wow, this is delicious! You should teach me how to make these!” means both “I really think this is tasty,” and “this is better than anything I cook for breakfast, and I’m acknowledging your skills.” Had I said “I am hereby acknowledging your breakfast-making skills,” maybe I wouldn’t have left myself as open to a sarcastic reply, but also? I’d have sounded like a complete dork.
By responding with sarcasm, he’s effectively deflecting my compliment, and making the conversation about my poor judgement of his culinary skills. And what’s with that? Let’s look at a hypothetical comparison.
(It’s 6:00 PM, and my husband has just arrived home from work.)
Husband: Wow, you look gorgeous. How do you always manage to look so beautiful at the end of the day?
Me: Oh let me tell you, it’s a strict regimen never getting enough sleep, and running myself ragged. It’s a celebrity secret.
Rather than simply accepting a sweet and sincere compliment, I make my husband feel foolish for apparently misjudging my appearance. Rather than listening to what he was trying to say, I’ve made it all about me, and turned a positive interaction into a negative one. That’s what bothers me about sarcasm.
Hope that clarifies what I said initially. And thanks to Thomas for the thoughtful comment! As always, if you have anything to add to the discussion, I welcome your contribution in the comments (and though I don’t get a chance to respond to everything, I do read each comment).
(I’ll be back tomorrow with a sponsored post.)
Let’s be friends!
- Long Live Sincerity: Dealing With Snark and Hostility on The Internet (melissajenna.com)
- Can Snark Be Useful? (melissajenna.com)
- The Snarky Voice in Your Head Is Killing Your Productivity, Here’s How to Stop It [Snark] (lifehacker.com)