Oh my God, you guys! I found the secret to happiness. I'm gonna spoil the suspense right now and cut to the chase: it's cutting out sarcasm. Seriously, read on.
Recently it was suggested to me that sarcasm was nothing more than veiled anger, a concept I agreed with but hadn't really ruminated over in the past. I remembered hearing years ago that in every sarcastic joke there was a grain of truth, that at some level people truly mean the thing they are suggesting they don't mean at all, but I didn't fully subscribe to that. For instance, there were definitely times when I'd joked about eating babies just to get all the strollers out of Lakeview when I hadn't actually wanted to eat babies.
(Ever heard of baby fat? Not good for the arteries.)
Nevertheless, it made me think about sarcasm. What is it for? Where does it come from? How can I use it to my advantage to help me get all the strollers off the streets of Lakeview?
I think one big misconception my generation suffers from is the purpose of sarcasm. I know I grew up in a sarcasm-rich culture, from the time it was first explained to me when I was about 5 that "sarcasm is when you go, 'oh, suuuure'" to the time my mother sarcastically replied "you first" under her breath when she heard me tell our dog, Cosette, to "come out of the closet" in which she was hiding from a thunderstorm.
Yes, we gave our dog a Les Miz name twenty years before it was cool. Trendsetters, we Marrses.
Growing up in and around the sarcastic made me think it was an a-okay way of communicating. I see it differently today. I think there are some harmless uses for sarcasm, but in general I think people use it too often and inappropriately. And they suffer for it, and don't see how.
Excess sarcasm eats away at the user's worldview. It may sound a bit out there, but I believe this to be true. The more a person is sarcastic, the more he truly is miserable and sees the world as a hopeless pile of dung that can only be coped with through mockery. One might say the chicken doesn't come before the egg, and that maybe people fall into the habit of being overly sarcastic because they are first miserable, not the other way around, but I see it as a two-way street.
Being sarcastic all the time trains your brainsubtly, slowly, and subconsciouslyto look around you for the flaws in everything you see. It does this without you consciously sensing it. It is very powerful. I say my generation "suffers" for this misconception because I think we are addicted to satire, which is not the same as sarcasm but often acts as a home for it, and it's making us far more snide and pessimistic than we are aware. We look at everything like we curate the Everything Is Terrible website.
You may not agree, and I get that. This thesis sounds a little outré for sure. I can say, though, that when I went on a verbal diet of zero sarcasm, these observations occurred. Along with them, a lot more optimism and joy occurred, too, which is not something I had gone searching for.
I really hope you try the same and see if your opinion lines up. Try to go a day, then a week, then longer, where you filter your jokes and force yourself to refrain from sharing the sarcastic ones. The things you say in place of it might shock you, and tip you off to how you truly feel about a person, place or situation.
Then you won't have to be the jerk everyone scoffs at for suggesting it's better to eat small children then clog the streets of Lakeview with more strollers.
Follow Homer on Twitter @HomerMarrs