The Problem with Sarcasm

“Well, that was super helpful.”

Was it? Or are you trying to be sarcastic?

Because if it was helpful, you could simply write, “thank you, that was helpful.”

On the other hand, if you’re trying to express disappointment or displeasure, you could write, “I’m disappointed that you weren’t able to contribute more here. We were really looking forward to your input.”

The problem with sarcasm is that the level of displeasure is hidden. You might come across as snarky when you don’t mean to, or, the snarkiness you were sending might not land.

My new rule of thumb is to always assume goodwill and ignore any perceived sarcasm. Call it a Type II sarcasm-detection error.

It’s hard to imagine a situation where sarcasm is the most effective way to make your point.

Link to the rest at Seth’s Blog

6 thoughts on “The Problem with Sarcasm”

  1. In the current world, USA in 2019, sarcasm is the only way to survive.

    The people you are mentally in cahoots with will get what you mean, and the others, well, they don’t matter and won’t get it or change anyway.

    We are living in surreal times.

    I’m old enough to be a cynic if I want to be. I used to be a romantic. And still am, in my writing.

    It frustrates me no end to not be able to DO anything.

  2. These days anything you say – no matter how you say it – will be used against you in the land of the publicly correct – no matter how wrong they are about what you actually said …

  3. Important to bear in mind. If it’s coming from an English person then it’s totally sarcastic.

    Without the “Well” then it’s very likely sarcastic.

    “Thanks that was helpful” is high praise.

  4. I think a big part of it is that sarcastically saying, “Well, that was super helpful” makes one sound cool and superior, whereas earnestly saying, “I’m disappointed that you weren’t able to contribute more” makes one sound like an uptight goober.

  5. I always assumed when people say they don’t like sarcasm is because they are too stupid to understand it. In my experience stupid people hate being called out on their stupidity and they’d rather have us speak in simple phrases that they can understand.

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