Sarcasm: We’re Trapped in an Era of Sincerity. Bring Back Sarcasm.
Bring back Sarcasm. It’s really quite refreshing.
Is there anything more boring than somebody banging on in endless detail about a TV show you have yet to see? An old pal was bending my ear recently with descriptions of some new low-brow reality-show obsession. One particular character had caught his attention: When he described her as “a blousy, braying, tackily dressed plastic surgery victim,” I simply could not resist. “Must be like looking into a mirror,” I said, with a concerned look.
The TV enthusiast winced visibly and strode off. He was later heard telling pals that I had been “hating” on him. Suddenly I felt a chill wind. Could it be that sarcasm, one of the greatest achievements of mankind—or “unkind” as I prefer to call it—is in danger of extinction?
From the Greek sarkasmos, meaning to sneer at or taunt (and derived from a term for rending the flesh), sarcasm is one of the building blocks of civilization. The ability to express an unwelcome observation in a wickedly passive-aggressive manner is, at the very least, a great alternative to old-fashioned fisticuffs, or rape ‘n’ pillage. When I think about those ancient Greeks and the carte blanche they enjoyed to say horrid things to one another, I get quite jealous. For example: If you were strolling through downtown Thebes and you ran into a pal who was looking particularly soiled and unkempt, you might say, “Going somewhere special?” to which the other Greek might good-naturedly reply, “Oh! You and your flesh-rending ironic observations!” It’s sad to think that such a remark would, in our squishy and oversensitive age, be met with accusations of “hating.”