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Monday, October 19, 2015

Sarcastic Tendencies

Happy, secure people have no need to put others down.

I know of some people who seem to feel empowered when they say things to break someone else down. Most of us know people like this. Recently I heard one person lay down a dis to a really nice friend of mine, a very sweet person whose feelings were hurt. The disser could easily have claim just kidding. In fact, people do it every day and get away with it.

Sarcasm is hidden bullying.

In fact, the Greek root for sarcasm, sarkazein, is to tear flesh like dogs? Did you know that?
We all back down from our confrontation of a bully when they claim kidding because we don't want to look petty, overly sensitive, or victimy. But we all know that people who claim kidding are really getting their licks in any way that they can because no one is calling them on it. We also all know someone who is the target of this kidding and who feels powerless to stop it. That is why I make it a point, any time someone is pulling this old trick, to say No More Kidding, then. Because it is not funny and because we all know that old trick. I think it's time to put an end to it for so many reasons.

Often, people who use sarcasm as a passive-aggressive way to make fun act disdainful of kindness, politeness, awareness of the feelings of others. They see kindness and such as weakness. At this point, they don't understand that it takes a strong person to show kindness in the face of unpleasantness, rudeness, or treachery.

Sarcasm and put downs are insidious for another reason: they are underhanded and secretive. Behind mocking and smug superiority is a hurtful criticism hiding behind a veil of jocularity. The joker can even say to someone with hurt feelings,I'm just kidding!  You are too sensitive!

People who rely on sarcasm are displaying their inability to verbalize their feelings, their disrespect for others, their poor impulse control, their inchoate self knowledge, and their undeveloped sense of compassion. They are even, sometimes, identifying with a person who has victimized them in the past. And they don't even know it. They are busy closing their eyes to the harmful effects that their words have on others and they are busy thinking, Why don't you just lighten up?

The person who bullies in this way has no need to see themselves as an oppressor because they keep themselves veiled in the cloak of joking, even to themselves. The acerbic-tongued person is quite convinced that they are superior, entertaining, and well-liked. But a person who relies on sarcasm, scorn, ridicule, or mockery is actually struggling with low self esteem and poor knowledge of their true self.  They just don't realize it.  

On social media I often see memes glorifying sarcasm as a superior way of dealing with "stupid people". But I disagree. Sarcasm is nothing more than bullying and a lack of grace, kindness, and courtesy. Maybe I am alone in this, but I don't find sarcasm and derision entertaining.

As a recovering sarcasm junkie myself, I know that when a person uses sarcasm as a major approach to interact with the world around them, they keep true friendship at bay. They see others as inferior, stupid, irrelevant while being unaware of their own fragility, vulnerability, fear of failure. Personally, it took a few episodes of injury to people that I care about before I saw exactly how the sarcasm reflected my wounded internal self. I was convinced that I was joking, clever, funny, and entertaining when, the whole time, I was floundering and fearful of having others discover my ineptitude.

But I couldn't have said that at the time.

Knowing this has made me far more compassionate to people with caustic personalities or disparaging tones when interacting with others. I recognize that they are hiding so much from themselves. In fact, most do not recognize it in themselves...

Breaking away from sarcasm was a very deliberate and long road, but with a determination to be authentic and compassionate and open and growing, I made it. And so can you. Become aware of it. Choose to make a difference. Decide to become a happier person.

And if it is your child who is sarcastic or bullying, you won't find much on the internet to help you, but this is a good place to start. If you are a parent looking for what to do when the bully is your child, come back again because I do plan on writing more about this in the future.

SO, if you are putting others down, think about working on yourself first.
You are worth it.

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