“Sarcasm is “a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter gibe or taunt“. Sarcasm may employ ambivalence, although sarcasm is not necessarily ironic. “The distinctive quality of sarcasm is present in the spoken word and manifested chiefly by vocal inflections”. The sarcastic content of a statement will be dependent upon the context in which it appears. “
Many times sarcasm is defined as a bad thing – cruel words spoken in order to hurt someone else.
I was raised with sarcasm, though, and I love it. It can be a really witty form of humor, laughing at one’s self, breaking tension, lightening up an unfortunate situation.
My father was a master at sarcasm. He used it, and other forms of humor, as a defense mechanism. He fell off a horse when he was 3 years old, breaking his arm in several places. Back then, they didn’t know nearly as much about setting bones, particularly growing bones, so my dad ended up with one arm shorter than the other and his hand curled up, almost useless. Kids at school were vicious. He answered by making them laugh. They learned to ignore his arm and accepted him because he was fun to have in the group.
Some people are completely unaware of sarcasm. When it is used, you can look at faces and see instantly if they ‘get’ it or if their hair is blowing in the wind as the joke goes over their heads. My dad raised us with sarcasm, puns, practical jokes, word jokes, and funny stories. They bubbled up out of him, overflowing onto all around him. He saw the world differently and those around him either kept up or missed out. It was a funny, rich world he carried with him. When he died, he wrote us a note, saying, “Remember me laughing.”
Example – I got dressed to go out as a teenager, coming out into the living room to wait for my date. My dad said, “Nice dress!” Our eyes met. I looked down, saw what I was wearing from his point of view, and went back to my bedroom to change. The next time I came out he said, “You look nice, Lin.” (A real compliment.)
I find sarcasm bubbling up, myself – sometimes at inappropriate times. Sometimes I squash my thoughts, though those who know me well know NOT to meet my eyes at these times, lest I bust a gut laughing when I absolutely shouldn’t….