BY: Jocelyn Schwalm
“It is said that truth comes from the mouths of fools and children: I wish every good mind which feels an inclination for satire would reflect that the finest satirist always has something of both in him.” – Georg C. Lichtenberg
If you are sarcastic, you may be doing more than just airing your grievances in a playful way. There’s a fine line between funny and offensive when it comes to sarcasm. Often, it is best to avoid the attempt all together when in the company of strangers or new acquaintances, when you don’t know their sense of humour or how something playful-yet-biting may be misinterpreted.
While many try their hand at this hit-or-miss satire, all too often they miss the mark when attempting to coat a hidden truth. Sarcasm seems to be taboo when it comes to formal situations or meeting new people, but what if the benefits of sarcasm truly outweigh the possibility of offence? Sarcasm has far more benefits than were previously thought. Those trying to get their message across in a creative way use satire. Sarcasm stimulates creativity and can indicate intelligence.
When the person receiving the sarcasm understands the comment, the real meaning is peeled away from what was actually said, and the brain has jumped through hoops to arrive at the conclusion. This engages the brain’s creativity pathway. The person being sarcastic is actively selecting the proper words to convey their message in an ironic way. It is up to the listener to decode their hidden message. However, there is a catch. The creativity is only prompted if the person listening understands the alluded meaning. Sarcasm is even associated with the brain being healthy.
Sarcasm is generated from the memory area of the brain, and if a person is unable to determine sarcasm from normal speech, it can reveal impairment within the brain. Therefore, inadvertently, sarcasm exposes emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is required to pick up on another’s thought processes, which is one of techniques we must use to understand the sarcastic tone.
Sarcasm even strengthens social bonds. As two people who understand each other feel a connection, sarcasm does the same thing subconsciously by instilling that two people are on the same page. Another reason sarcasm has such a bad rap is that, often, sarcastic people forget to consider their audience. Saying one thing but meaning another can get lost on some people, and that is why irony may be best kept to those we are close with.
Studies have found that sarcasm is best received when there is trust between the communicator and the recipient. If there is an existing trusting relationship established, the possibility that the joke will get misconstrued drops significantly. Knowing the character of an individual is also important. If they favor facetiousness, it may be a green light to practice sardonic humor. So next time you’re reconsidering injecting your language with playful irony, think again, as it may paint a better picture of you than you originally thought.