Oscar Wilde once said, "Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but the highest form of intelligence." Regardless, PR experts and marriage counselors often advise their clients to stay away from it. The reason is simple: this form of expression can sting others, hurting people and harming relationships. As a communication tool, it dances on the edge of conflict.

But sometimes, throwing sparks and seeing if they catch fire is precisely what you want. Especially when everyone and everything around you tickles your nerves. Which is something we all sometimes feel. (I hope.)

So let's take a look at the Instagram account 'Sarcasm Only.' Sharing memes, tweets, and all kinds of content, it manages to pinpoint universal human emotion despite firing shots in every direction. If there's one place you need to get through a lousy, it's this little corner of the internet. I mean, why else would 16 million people follow it?

More info: Instagram

In fact, scientists are finding that the ability to detect sarcasm really is useful. For the past 20 years, linguists, psychologists, neurologists, and other researchers have been analyzing our ability to perceive snarky remarks and gaining new insights into how the mind works. Their studies have shown that exposure to sarcasm enhances creative problem solving, for instance.

You could say sarcasm detection is an essential skill if one is going to function in a modern society dripping with irony. "Our culture, in particular, is permeated with sarcasm,” Katherine Rankin, a neuropsychologist at the University of California at San Francisco, told Smithsonian Magazine. "People who don't understand sarcasm are immediately noticed. They're not getting it. They're not socially adept."

Sarcasm is so popular in 21st-century America that according to one study of a database of telephone conversations, 23 percent of the time that the phrase "Yeah, right" was used, it was uttered sarcastically.

Entire phrases have almost lost their literal meanings because they are so frequently said with a sneer. Take "Big deal," for example. When was the last time someone said that to you and actually meant it? "My heart bleeds for you" almost always equals "Tell it to someone who cares," and "Aren’t you special" means you aren’t.

"It's practically the primary language in modern society," John Haiman, a linguist at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the author of Talk is Cheap: Sarcasm, Alienation and the Evolution of Language, said.

Sarcastic statements are sort of a true lie. People are saying something they don’t literally mean, but the communication works as intended only if their listener gets that they're insincere.

Some language experts suggest sarcasm is used as a sort of gentler insult, a way to tone down criticism, but their opponents have found that the mocking, smug, superior nature of sarcasm is perceived as more hurtful than a plain-spoken criticism.

The Greek root for sarcasm, sarkazein, means to tear flesh like dogs. Haiman thinks dog-eat-dog sarcastic commentary is just part of our quest to be cool. "You're distancing yourself, you're making yourself superior. If you're sincere all the time, you seem naive."

Research has also shown that sarcasm can be easily misinterpreted, especially when served electronically. In one study, 30 pairs of university students were given a list of statements to communicate, half of which were sarcastic and half of which were serious: some students communicated their messages via e-mail and others via voice recordings.

Participants who received the voice messages accurately gleaned the sarcasm (or lack thereof) 73 percent of the time, but those who received the statements via e-mail did so only 56 percent of the time, hardly better than chance. Additionally, the e-mailers had anticipated that 78 percent of participants would pick up on the sarcasm inherent in their sarcastic statements. That is, they badly overestimated their ability to communicate their tone.

At least sarcasm goes well with memes!

See Also on Bored Panda
See Also on Bored Panda


sarcasm_only Report

Note: this post originally had 95 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.