I’m trying to end sarcasm. From my life, obviously, but why not from the culture at large?
Sarcasm is a plague. Sarcasm is annoying, it’s everywhere in America, it is lazy, and worse it’s a tacit agreement with the thing one is trying to mock.
Language is powerful, and just saying “I mean, yeah! The government sure looks out for us!” *wink* doesn’t actually convey the point you want because you didn’t even say what you mean.
Sarcasm is Stockholm Syndrome. It trains people to embrace a philosophy of never speaking the truth. It’s all the worst aspects of the Internet and social media come to life.
Sarcasm ruins conversations. It’s incredibly annoying when nobody says what they really think and is always smirking, whether verbally or facially. There is no facial expression more annoying and punchable than a smirk. Watch cable news or a Netflix comedy special and you’ll understand what I mean.
Smirking has its time and place. It’s time and place is not “All of the time.”
Sarcasm also ruins fiction. I mentioned this in my review of Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, where I called every single character’s conversation style “21st Century American Snark.” Everyone sounded like they were in a sitcom. If you know what American sitcoms are like, you can see why this style is infuriating. It is too cute and clever and tries to show off how cute and clever the author thinks they are, but it comes off as amateurish.
Moderation is key. Some characters can be sarcastic jerks. Other non-sarcastic jerks will interact with them in interesting ways that sound real. If every character is a sarcastic jerk, then you have a recipe for annoyance. And there is a place for quips and snappy one-liners. But that place is not “everywhere.”
Imagine the movie Commando if every last character had a dry sense of humor like Colonel John Matrix.
Speaking of movies, I can’t watch them without getting annoyed by the dangerous levels of smarm, snark, and “irony.” The Avengers movies are a good example. I read a comment on another blog where the guy said he checked out after he realized every character was “the snarky one.”
The last superhero movie I watched was Dr. Strange because I was on an airplane and bored. The character was indistinguishable from Tony Stark and Star Lord except for being a different actor. Lame!
Sarcasm has also ruined serious discourse. Even columnists and the so-called intelligentsia devolve into just saying the opposite of what they think and going “Really? Really?”
Yes, really. It’s really obnoxious.
Don’t be sarcastic. I’m trying my damndest to eliminate this tendency from my speaking and writing. You’d be surprised at how many of these posts I rewrite because initial drafts make me sound like a sarcastic douchebag.
Maybe you still think I’m a douchebag, but at least I’m a douchebag who’s writing what I’m really thinking.
The characters in my novel A Traitor to Dreams might bicker, especially before they learn to trust each other, but they’re not all snarky and sarcastic . . . really, only the talking bird is. Available on Amazon!