Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

This is not about Sarcasm

Art by Vivian Ngyuen The eye roll is one of many signs that someone is being sarcastic.

People who don’t like sarcasm have such funny, creative and confident personalities and always spice up conversations by injecting a little humor! Obviously, their opinions on sarcasm are based on scientific observations that couldn’t possibly be misguided.

Don’t get the wrong idea — I was just being sarcastic.

Sarcasm has become such a big part of my vernacular that I can hardly remember the multitude of times I use it in a day. That’s not necessarily because I have a bad memory — sarcasm has just become like a second language to me.

Sarcasm is a form of often misunderstood humor, as people have a tendency to take it too literally or dismiss it as being too harsh without considering the creativity that it sparks. I believe that sarcasm has the ability to enhance our creativity and can make ridiculous situations more humorous.

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Yet many people have stopped noticing sarcasm altogether. I realized that it had happened to me when I was stuck in a line and had a sarcastic conversation that made my experience more interesting.

I was at the DMV and had spent a few hours surrounded by noisy, impatient people and was getting very annoyed about having to spend my entire Saturday waiting in line. I felt completely ridiculous standing in a slow-moving line for hours just to take a test. Without even thinking about it, I made a sarcastic comment about the “fantastic” management of the DMV to the person next to me in line. They jokingly agreed with me, and we shared a laugh. Instead of having an uninteresting exchange about the slow-moving lines, the injection of sarcasm made a boring situation just a bit more interesting.

Coming to the realization that I had unconsciously become fluent in the language of sarcasm prompted me to find out what sarcasm really is and from where it originated. The very word “sarcasm” comes from the Greek word for “the tearing of flesh.”

I thought to myself, “Do people really speak in such a way?” I didn’t think of myself as having the right mindset to speak a language so gruesome. Its etymology makes it sound like something that can only be administered by someone with thick skin, and that certainly is not how I see myself.

Many others echo the belief that sarcasm is a dark language of hostility disguised as humor. It was classified as a form of bullying in a 2012 article from Psychology Today. Although sarcasm can be used to express hostility and can be used to bully, it is not always used with the intention of putting someone down and can be advantageous.

Sarcastic exchanges can be beneficial when they are between two people who know and trust each other. A 2015 Harvard study found that participants who engaged in sarcastic conversations, as opposed to serious ones, performed much better on tests of creativity. Although we may not realize it, the process of interpreting or thinking of a sarcastic comment puts us in a more creative mindset.

There is still a fine line between using sarcasm to hurt someone and using it to insert humor in a ridiculous situation. But it is easy for sarcasm to be misunderstood, especially when used in a conversation between two people who have not established a sense of trust in their relationship, according to a 2015 Harvard study. Having a sense of trust in a relationship is important because making a sarcastic comment directed to someone you hardly know could very easily be interpreted literally.

If used in the right way, sarcasm can help us deal with the problems we run into in our everyday lives in a creative way. And, let’s be honest — some of the problems we come across are ridiculous. What kind of a life would we be living if we never stopped to see the humor in the ridiculous situations we find ourselves in? A riveting one, that’s for sure.

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