After I made a particularly fine joke one day, a friend said to me: “You know, sarcasm is the lowest form of sociopathy.” I laughed at this. Later, I looked up the word sociopath. The definition wasn’t as funny as my joke had been.
The Scientific Definition
From the Oxford English Dictionary (the only dictionary worth consulting)
Originally: a condition of mental deficiency leading to criminal or antisocial behaviour (cf. SOCIOPATH n.) (disused). In later use: = antisocial personality disorder n. at ANTISOCIAL adj. Additions (cf. PSYCHOPATHY n. 1) (now rare). More generally (also hyperbolically): antisocial, violent, or selfish behaviour.
A Definition of Sociopathy for Generation Entertainment
They are all skillful liars. All are impulsive and detached from their peers. They have great capacity for violence. They are incapable of guilt or remorse. They are masters of changing their image and pretending to be someone they are not.
That last point does the most to validate my friend’s claim. A sarcastic remark pretends to be a sincere remark. The meaning of the words is swallowed up in the tone of the delivery. I suppose you could call sarcasm a mild form of deceit, even when the joker and the receiver are both in on the joke.
If being genuine is important to you, monitor yourself today and see how often you make sarcastic remarks. When I did this, the results were pretty discouraging. Practically every other word out of my mouth was sarcastic. I’m not convinced that I’m a sociopath–I’ve seen too many movies and I know my sociopaths.
I’m no Puritan, but I believe that self-mastery is rarely a bad thing. Regardless of whether your peers enjoy sarcasm, it is a negative thing. If you’re trying to be more upbeat, this may be a good place to start.
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Try it out and let us know if anything surprises you. Report whatever you’re comfortable sharing in the comments section. Good luck!