Saturday, April 30, 2011


     Sarcasm is a deadly business. Looking at the word's etymology and rooting it back to its original Latin, it means to tear flesh. And at the receiving end, sarcasm feels like that. It cuts at me. It makes me smaller, and induces shame as well. There is an implied curled lip and a look of repulsion from the one delivering the sarcasm, a holier than thou attitude, an unspoken sigh and rolling of the eyes as if to say how could anyone be so stupid.
    It's hard to bounce back from the delivery gust of sarcasm. Like a slap in the face, I have been shut down, put in my implied place, below and beneath. I feel disheveled. I have lost my composure. Sarcasm is a form of bullying. Even if it's not delivered towards me specifically, it batters whatever it is directed towards. There's a passive aggressive element... cruelty guised as humor.
     Even sarcastic thoughts are destructive and harmful, full of judgment and false pride. Even if they are never spoken. Sarcasm is a sneering and wounding and poisonous way to approach life and other people. Maybe it's a defense mechanism, a learned retaliation for being a life long victim. There's anger behind it, and an intention to abuse.
     Happily, I no longer surround myself with sarcastic people. Most of my communications are straight up and respectful. But the occasional blast does come. I was shut down the other day by a virtual stranger. In an effort to illicit a laugh from his audience, he shrank me in front of the crowd for no good reason. And I was interested to see how readily I fed into his surreptitious lashing. I felt immediately unworthy and full of shame. Why had I thought I had anything to contribute? Silly me.
     But it didn't take me long to realize what had happened and that it wasn't really about me at all. I had a choice about taking on the negative feelings that had been delievered up so readily. As children, we are not so lucky. We take whatever is given us. But as an adult, I can let the sarcasm lie on the open air and not ingest it. I can deflect it and know that I am ok. I can even have compassion for the one who feels the need to tear at others. He is gravely misguided. His sarcasm is not funny and not insightful. It is a signpost for his own pain and insecurity. Ultimately, it is nothing more than a call for love.

I will not take ownership of sarcasm in any form today. I will not send it out and I will not take it in.