Sarcasm Can Leave Emotional Scars

When my friend walked by my desk looking sharp in her stylish, black suit, I remarked how great she looked. She said she had just come out of a senior management meeting. “Is that your senior management suit?” I asked. We laughed, and she said something funny to me about my casual dress.

When my friend walked by my desk looking sharp in her stylish, black suit, I remarked how great she looked. She said she had just come out of a senior management meeting. "Is that your senior management suit?" I asked. We laughed, and she said something funny to me about my casual dress. We were a little sarcastic, and it was funny....

We were a little sarcastic, and it was funny. It lightened up our day because we’re friends and wouldn’t do anything to hurt each other.

But there are times when sarcasm hurts. Even the word itself can leave a bad taste in your mouth when you say it, but especially when used to hurt others.

Webster’s dictionary defines sarcasm as “a sharp utterance designed to cut or give pain.” The Greek form of this word, “sarcasm,” means “to tear flesh, bite the lips in rage, sneer.”

Wow, all that in one small word.

Our daughter and youngest son used to play the game of sarcasm often to get at each other when they were younger.

Our youngest would say, “Mom, we finished the kitchen,” and His sister would retort, “We, my foot!” Her words would agitate her little brother, and he would sneer back, “Oh, sure, little Miss Perfect did it all by herself.” And on and on, it would go until I would have to call a halt. You get the picture.

Now, imagine this scene in a work setting or the intimacy of marriage. It could be very destructive and painful. Sarcasm is like a bee sting. When the bee stings, the poison causes immediate pain and inflammation. Once the pain is there, it is hard to take back; even when you pull the stinger out or say, “I was just kidding!”

A schoolteacher friend said her philosophy is, “If it came out of your mouth, you probably had it in your heart.” Even though I would call a halt to our children’s bickering and make them apologize to each other, one sarcastic remark would start an avalanche of bad feelings between the two of them that lasted for days.

Sometimes, in marriage, sarcasm is the beginning of an emotional separation between two people who love each other. The one says the first sarcastic remark is usually in control, and the other either fights back or withdraws.

Our youngest son avoided his brother and sister when they were sarcastic. He wasn’t good at it. He couldn’t think of a quick, witty remark to say back and often walked away, feeling hurt.

I understood how he felt because when I lived in a college dorm, I spent many evenings in the library by myself, avoiding the sarcastic games my friends like to play with each other. When I tried to tell them some of their remarks were hurtful, they would laugh.

Needless to say, after a while, I made new friends. “That doesn’t mean everything in life should be serious, and friends can’t joke and tease each other,” my schoolteacher friend told me. “It just means maybe that’s why we have two ears and one mouth. We need to do more listening and less talking.”

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Author's Image
Deana Landers
Author for Morningcoffeebeans.com

I have had many roles in life
Pastor’s Wife , Mom/Nana , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer , Christian Speaker
I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing stories, either in my head or in my journal.

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Story Comments

  1. Ba Morris -

    Enjoyed your story "Sarcasm Can Leave Emotional Scars." As a retired teacher, I remember students hurting a peer, and then trying to say they were just kidding. I agree, that if it comes out of your mouth, it was in your head and heart.

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting on my story. Please come again to my website, soon.Deana

  2. Charles W Sutherland -

    I have a different view of sarcasm, which 'inter alia', I will describe in a book on which I am currently working.Hint: Explore the motivations of various sarcastic comments, since they are not all made for the same reasons.

    • Deana Landers -

      Charles, thank you for your comment on my story. I look forward to seeing your comments on sarcasm. I will take your advice and check this out.Deana

  3. Charles W Sutherland -

    I have an entirely different view of sarcasm — which is one of the things I will be exploring in a book I am writing. Hint: I think you should explore the various motivations of sarcasm, not simply denounce it in the standard way.

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Charles.Deana

  4. Thank you for sharing this. As always I can relate to your post. We try and teach similar values to our two teenagers.

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Brooke. I think some people are more vunerable to sarcasm and even though it can be fun most of the time, sometimes it can hurt. Thank you always for reading, commenting and sharing my stories.Deana

  5. Your school teacher friend sounds like a very wise person, Deana. I've never been a fan of sarcasm. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against playful banter, but when it crosses the line into hurtful comments at someone else's expense then I think it's pointless and shows a lack of empathy and understanding on the part of the sarcastic person. And when it comes to the little ones, so haven't learned all the nuances of communication it can have a lasting, hurtful impact.

    • Deana Landers -

      You are exactly right, Michelle. I should have added that paragraph to the story. It is spot on. Thank you, dear friend, for always reading, commenting and sharing my stories.Deana

  6. That is so true, one little comment can snowball and cause so much hurt. I am like you, I am not fast enough. I always think of a comeback hours later but by then it is too late.

    • Deana Landers -

      Anita, it takes me awhile to get jokes, too. But for kids, I think it is even harder for them to understand. Thank you, my friend, for reading, commenting and sharing my stories.Deana

  7. Maria -

    Interesting article! I didn’t have much of that when growing up! I find myself being sarcastic when I’m stressed with family but only if I feel like I’m being taken advantage of from my kids.

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Maria, for always reading, sharing and commenting on my stories. Deana

  8. Always love your words of wisdom Deana! I guess that's why I've always been a good listener :).

    • Deana Landers -

      Ahh, Sara, you are so kind. Thank you for listening, my friend.Deana

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