I’m Trying to End Sarcasm

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.

L-R: Me, not being sarcastic

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.

Imagine being trapped in a room where everyone wore this face.

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!

42 comments

    • Just from talking to you these past few years, I knew you were a big proponent of sincerely already.

      Excessive sarcasm is lame and unmasculine. Winston Churchill used it effectively. Ben Shapiro does not.

      Like

      • The 21st century Scalzi snark is the epitome of anti-masculinity. I can’t stand it. If a book or movie is filled with it I immediately check out. I can’t stand snark or it’s brother the adult cuteism, like Firefly. Scalzi and Whedon cultural betaism.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It is. That’s why I took it to heart when a review of my book said the conversations were “snarky.” My intent was to show the characters bickering and being untruthful before they learned to trust each other. And I hoped the tone of conversations later on reflected this change.

        Lesson learned.

        Like

      • Aside from my distaste for his sarcasm, I honestly don’t find Shapiro that serious of a thinker. His opinions seem like basic conservatism 101, and I’m not impressed by his “destroying” college students in so-called debates. His disastrous interview with Andrew Neal on the BBC confirmed what I figured out a while ago: he’s kind of a lightweight.

        He’s also less than truthful. For example, I lost a lot of trust in him after the Michelle Fields fiasco. I listened to his podcast for a time, and the way he described her “assault” was not what the video showed. He also turned into an anti-Trump zealot overnight, devoting every podcast to how much he hated Trump. Which is fine, because it’s his podcast, but all of his prior nuance went out the window in a flash.

        Lastly, I think he’s a huge hypocrite in that he claims to not be an identitarian or a revivalist when he’s absolutely an identitarian or a tribalism when it comes to his own identity.

        So this is my long way of saying I used to like the guy—I still think Primetime Propaganda is an excellent book—but I am no longer a fan.

        Like

      • Alexander Hellene, I have noted some sarcasm from Ben Shapiro myself. I like him for the most part, however, unless there is a valid circumstance or context in which it is justified, I do not take sarcasm very well either.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Screenwriters swear that believable characters rarely communicate how they feel. That may be true to an extent, but I wonder whether or not they interpret this to mean that everyone should act like the “snarky one.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This may be a cultural thing because, as a non-American, it always puzzles me that a lot of Americans either don’t get sarcasm/can’t tell the difference between it and irony, or misuse it. I agree that the things you are referencing should be removed, but I don’t think they are sarcasm. Then again, I come from a culture where sarcasm is usually delivered in a deadpan manner. There are no smirks, which seems more like, as you point out, a Sitcom invention to point out that, yes, indeed, “this is a joke.”

    Liked by 3 people

  3. When not with fellow teenagers, I suspect that sarcasm is best reserved for self mockery. For example, when I introduced a video of mine, last year, which was about the third star wars prequel with “because this channel is all about being topical”. Though I did a dry delivery, I didn’t smirk. And there was a poor autistic fellow who was very confused because the movie wasn’t recent. (I’ve taken to labeling joke tweets as jokes because there’s usually someone it actually helps, given that Twitter is just about the lowest context environment there is.) but, still, I think that sarcasm is best used for self mockery, even if people will occasionally take it as being honestly pompous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good way of using sarcasm. And I like how you, much like Jill did, differentiate “sarcasm” from “snark,” with the latter being more dry or droll than smarmy, winking “irony.”

      In other words, I think you’re closer to the actual term than my post, which is more about the contemporary American usage.

      Like

      • I tend to just think of snark as sarcasm which isn’t well done, generally by petulent whiners or by people who look up to petulent whiners. But I’m not an expert in snark; I haven’t had television service in close to two decades now, and the last movie I saw in theaters was Get Smart with Steve Carell. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with a few comments on delineating snark from sarcasm, as I’ve always understood sarcasm to be subtle (even secretive). That’s what makes dry humor so great, it involves a lack of signaling. I guess that’s funny because that lack of insinuation goes over some people’s head. That may not be ‘nice’ but it’s never really harmful or annoying because the whole point of sarcasm is that pointing it out ruins it.
    Snarky people have to point out that their sarcasm is sarcasm, like “Hey, I’m the [pseudo] intellectual bully around here.” The snarky comedy is almost like the result of a tired Opposite Day, as the sarcasm is obviously sarcastic. It’s self-absorbed because the speaker wants the attention. I believe sarcasm to be a quiet rousing of confusion within the audience and leaving it with them. Not this smirky, conceited aim from the speaker to receive a cheap kudos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I realize I conflated the terms. But that was reflective of how they tend to be used these days.

      Snark, smarm, and sarcasm share commonalities, but are different in key ways. But there’s enough overlap that I’m going to stand by the original post.

      …but you’re still right!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. —I think Whedon had a huge influence on pop culture, maybe Gilmore Girls as well (never saw it though I thought the Mom actress was cute) based on what Alexander noted and how some people write online, some of the style or feel.

    —-I love a lot of types of humor, it’s just a matter of balance. But yes, the lack of sincerity or constant sarcasm, “snark” or not is overkill. Or something people grow out of. I really loved the Avengers when it first came out, I wonder what I’ll make of it in the future, I do remember appreciating Captain America’s sincerity as a character. That difference between Stark and Cap helped drive the movie. If everyone is like Stark that’s terrible. And tiring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, the mom from Gilmore Girls is definitely a babe. Glad I’m not the only one who thought so.

      Balance is key. All snark, all the time just makes me want to drive to Hollywood and give every single screenwriter weenie an atomic wedgie or three.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You have gone too far in condemning the smirk. First of all look how it triggers the SJWs. A man standing up to their nonsense words and smirking in defiance is a powerful tool. Also related (defiance and hate transferred to love) is that it can be a power seduction tool on members of the opposite sex. Don’t hate the smirk, hate the context of it (snarky punchable smirk).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mama Equis wrote: “Snarky people have to point out that their sarcasm is sarcasm, like “Hey, I’m the [pseudo] intellectual bully around here.”

    —-Intellectual bullying, I agree. Things that most would never have the guts to say in person.

    cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Alexander,
    Snark would immediately stop if people got slugged for it. It’s as close to dueling as we can get nowadays.
    People need skin in the game even if it’s a black eye.

    xavier

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Alexander,
    Aon’t gonna happen.

    Believe it or not duelling brought some interesting features to French law.

    In a nut shell, duelling got so bad in France that François I had to regulate. One of the requirements was to pay for the injuries or funeral costs. That’s how damages got awarded. Later on damages would be incorporated more formally into laws. The awarding of damages then migrated to New France

    Also moral theologians have always condemed duellum as private war thus contrary to the common good and doesn’t promote virtue.

    xavier

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s