You can call it being a smart-alek, being a smartass, or anything you want to call it, but sarcasm is usually a witty, snappy comeback to something that’s been said that sounds particularly dim. It’s not always necessary but there are times when it feels absolutely justified, especially in moments when someone decides to flaunt their knowledge and gets something so horribly wrong that allowing them lord it over others seems like a major fallacy.

Of course there is a time and place for sarcasm and a method by which it’s best received. Those that use sarcasm to be particularly nasty aren’t always in the right and those that use it to simply attack others for no good reason are more likely to be seen as jerks and bullies than witty and intelligent individuals. One doesn’t need to be a scholar to practice sarcasm, as a biting wit doesn’t take a degree or special learning courses to develop. From the lowest street urchin to the most brilliant mind in the world, sarcasm is something that’s learned just by being around society.

But it has nothing to do with a weak mind.

Some say sarcasm is practiced by those that have no understanding of society’s ‘darker side’.

In short people tend to think that those who practice their wit and biting humor don’t have a clue what it means to be on the wrong side of life and have never known a single hardship. To be honest this makes no sense. Where do these people think that wit comes from? Some of the wittiest people are those that have known the greatest amount of hardship in their lives and have had to find a way to defend against it so that the depression doesn’t eat them alive. Does the name Robin Williams ring a bell? The man dealt with the ‘darker side’ of society all the time since he was battling depression for years. One doesn’t have to be traipsing through the gutter for years and years to see the darker side of society, one only has to listen to the comments of those that think they have a firm finger on the pulse of that society but don’t seem to get that sarcasm is a defense tool, not a failing of those that make good use of it.

It’s easy to call people weak-minded when one doesn’t look in the mirror too hard.

Some people do take it too far.

Sarcasm on its own is no more harmful than the usual litany of jokes one might hear from a stand-up comedian, but it all depends on the sense of humor that is held by the listener. Some people can take a joke, others can’t. Some people use sarcasm to make people laugh and make light of a situation. Others use it to attack. A biting wit is just that, it bites at the ego of the person it’s being used against and can cause a great deal of distress depending on how the person doing the attacking goes about it. The idea of sarcasm isn’t always to attack, nor is it always to defend. It’s to ease the tension in a given situation and make it possible for people to laugh away the stress of the current moment.

Using sarcasm as a weapon is something that needs to be taken on an as-needed basis, but should ordinarily never be practiced.

The intelligence of sarcasm is hard to miss unless your sense of humor is too dim.

Some people take things way too literally and aren’t able to think around corners so to speak. They take offense at the slightest thing and tend to think that people that are sarcastic are insulting them when it’s far more likely that said people are trying to bring the situation to a head or calm it down with a bit of levity. Sarcasm is not inherently good- or bad-natured, it is simply a means to deescalate a situation and allow people to laugh away the tension. It is also a sign of intelligence as well as a mild sense of empathy since those that use it tend to want to calm those around them down and loosen them up. And the intelligence portion of sarcasm is the quick-thinking it takes when it comes to what a person feels needs to be said in a way that is not insulting or harmful to anyone.

Of course some moments are simply too good to pass up on, and some people, like those mentioned above, need to be taken down a peg or two every now and then. The trick is to be just insulting enough to remind them that they’re not as wise as they think they are, while not destroying them entirely.

It’s difficult at times, but possible.

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