You’re ugly. Oh, just kidding.

If you’re not reading my blog every week, what good are you? Or maybe you forgot how to read – THAT explains it.

Oh, I’m just joking with you. C’mon, I mean if we can’t laugh about things like this, what’s the point? You’re taking me too seriously.

The fact is, sarcasm was a part of my upbringing and last week I came closer to understanding the source of our sarcastic side.

"Oh, a wise guy, 'ay?" I think sarcasm is a defense mechanism.

“Smart-ass” remarks were delivered with a smile or a laugh and cast off as humor. If the intended recipient, take me for instance, didn’t get the joke or took it to heart, I was declared “overly sensitive” or “taking things too seriously.”

In my opinion, it is not a desirable trait like “your mother’s love of music” or “your father’s laugh.” It’s a birth defect. Something worth overcoming.

“Come on! Where’s your sense of humor, for cripe sake?”

Sarcasm is harsh communication – said to be “the lowest form of humor,” … “a cutting remark intended to wound.” Raised with sarcasm, a child learns the language as a defense mechanism. You gotta be able to dish it out, or what good are ya. Even more, you got to be able to take it or suffer.


Sarcasm was, and sadly still is, part of my language tool box, but I’ve been working on it ever since that 10-year-old boy called me on it.

Summers from 2005 through 2007, I was the medic and nature lady at Glenwood’s Camp Getchow. I’ll never forget the lesson.

I said something sarcastic to a camper. I don’t know – “don’t’ come back unless your arm’s broken” maybe. It doesn’t matter. What matters is his reply. 

“I don’t understand what you mean.”

Whoa. Right between the eyes. I was trying to help these kids, get along with them, be a good role model. sigh. Good lesson – one that hit me right between the ears. He didn’t understand my sarcastic remark. I would be forced to communicate clearly, plainly, if I wanted to be understood.

If we don’t speak clearly, how can anyone know who we are? What are we hiding? Why the mask? 

Now, I’m not talking about humor. Being fun and funny without being sarcastic takes true wit, thought. I’ll fall for a guy who’s got a great smile and a smart sense of humor. (Lord knows I’ve done it before.)

Recently I was talking casually with a client and fell comfortably into my semi-sarcastic mode. He just stared at me. Seemed to be searching his brain to understand me. I had to keep saying, “just kidding … I’m just kidding.”

And I call myself a communications expert.

I’ve decided I don’t want to work that hard anymore. I don’t want to put my energy into keeping up with sarcastic people nor explain what I mean.

One more thing, sarcasm gone sour is caustic. Maybe you’ve been on the other end of the string dancing to someone being sarcastic and caustic. I shut down, move away. Door closed.

What about you? How do you deal with sarcasm? Do you throw it back?

In my view, wisdom calls for understanding. I don’t need to be sarcastic to get along, to communicate. In fact, I think we’d be better off without it. Call me Pollyanna – I’m fine with that. Peaceful, easy feelings. What did Billy Joel say, “Don’t want clever conversation, never want to work that hard … ”




7 responses to “You’re ugly. Oh, just kidding.

  1. Even followed by just kidding, the subconscious
    Heard the words. Damage done!
    My students have let me know how
    Hurtful sarcasm can be. Taught me a lesson!

  2. “Sarcasm” wounds a lot of souls who struggle with just fitting in.
    Unless you have experienced it, it is hard to understand the meaning of the sarcasm and most young people draw it into themselves and plunge into feelings of “I am OK?” Today, it is a big factor of bullying in the schools.
    Good writing, Kris.

  3. Nice job Kris. You’re right, we were raised with sarcasm. We honed it on each other (of our siblings) and learned limits. We learned when to back off, when it was too much, how to correct when feelings were hurt. We learned where the edges were. It became an art, we thought. Some people don’t have that awareness or empathy and can gouge, when perhaps a little bite in their humor was the intent. It can be difficult to manage and so yes, best not to go there .

  4. I have been caught in the web of sarcasm. . . for some reason it surprises me when it catches me and I get my feelings hurt! Huh – thought I was smarter than that.

    Another lesson learned, forgotten and hopefully re-learned!

    Thanks Wordy!

    • Thanks, Robin. I don’t think sarcastic people know they are hurting. It’s kind of the sbd of communication – slick but deadly.

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