Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is Sincerity the New Sarcasm?

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About a week ago, one of my Facebook friends wrote, "Is sincerity the new sarcasm?"

Honestly, I didn't really get what he meant and thought I just wasn't philosophical or smart enough to comprehend it. Or maybe, it was some new pop culture idea that I wasn't aware of. Since then, the idea has been making its way through my brain synapses, trying to come out with an actual understanding. Still, no clarity.

So the researcher in me decided to look up the word meanings.  I know, I am putting too much effort into this but realize that I love words.  I am basically a nerd who loves studying and school so stay with me here. Here are Webster's definitions.

French or Late Latin; French sarcasme, from Late Latin sarcasmos, from Greek sarkasmos, from sarkazein to tear flesh, bite the lips in rage, sneer, from sark-, sarx flesh; probably akin to Avestan thwarəs- to cut
1: a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain2 a: a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual b: the use or language of sarcasm

\-ˈser-ə-tē, -ˈsir-\
15th century
: the quality or state of being sincere : honesty of mind : freedom from hypocrisy

Looking at the two definitions, how could the latter possibly replace the former? 

I have always enjoyed a witty tongue and like the clever mind that usually accompanies one who uses sarcasm. But, look at the Latin and Greek words that sarcasm derives from. To tear flesh and the purpose of sarcasm is to cut or cause pain. What an ugly word!

Then we have sincerity. I love that it is defined as an honesty of mind because sometimes our words may sound good, but be completely dishonest of mind.

Based on these definitions, I don't see how sincerity can be the new sarcasm.

However, I do see a change in our culture regarding telling the truth.  There has been a shift from keeping our lives very private and only sharing certain things with close family and friends to living and journaling "out loud" for all the world to see. From reality TV to blogging to Facebook and Twitter, we are sharing much more information about ourselves.

So what does this telling of truth and telling a lot of it have to do with the question? Please stay with me here friends. 

I think that there are some in our culture who are using the truth in order to avoid consequences. Rather than feeling any shame or guilt for their actions, they think that if they just tell the truth about everything, then nobody has anything on them. It is like they spit up all their junk on you and say, "I told you the truth" so there is nothing you can do to me whether you like it or not. Please realize that even though it is truth, there is no sincerity in it. There is no honesty of mind. 

Perhaps it is this telling of truth that is being mistaken as sincerity. 
And maybe that is what has become more popular in our culture than sarcasm!
It certainly isn't sincerity. 
It looks more like a form of insincerity to me.

I hope that I made some sense here!

Your thoughts? I'd love them.

Oh, and if you are wondering why I have that super cute picture of  Little Bear at the top of this particular post, it is simply because I thought it was so cute that I couldn't wait to share it. I thought of trying to make some connection between it and the post by showing his as the face of sincerity and the bulldog as the face of sarcasm, but I won't because your brains probably already hurt enough from my rambling.


Anonymous said...

aww baby is so adorably stretching!

I understand what you mean (I think, ha ha) My sister in law is like that. She spews crap every time she opens her mouth and thinks we have to accept this as her being "honest" when she is just being hurtful.

I still believe the old addage "if you cant say something nice dont say anything at all."

Anonymous said...

What is the new catch phrase everyone uses now? Oh, yeah..."I'm just sayin'."

You are so right. Honesty is now the New Rude...there is nothing honorable about it. What used to be considered people's personal "dirty laundry" is now acceptable entertainment. No boundaries, no's very sad.

Farmgirl Paints said...

Adorable picture of your sweetie.

As far as sincerity vs sarcasm, you've raised an interesting point. For some reason our society has a way of making all lines grey. I know that when I am honest on my blog or in life I am being sincere. When I have something to say that is not so nice, but I'm too scared to be completely brutal I use sarcasm.

The fact is that they are both how I feel truthfully. One is sugar coated and one is not. I really don't like it when people are sarcastic because in my experience they are usually being "nice mean". Does that make sense??

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

This post made me think. I wear my insecurities on my sleeve sometimes and I'm certain it is a defense mechanism. There is some part of me that feels like if I reveal the ugly in me then at least it's out there (the whole honesty bit you refer to). God is teaching me a lot about this and I think I needed to read this post today.
~ Wendy

Foursons said...

Wow. You just put a new perspective on a lot of things for me. I'm kinda at a loss for words right now. Except, that the picture is ADORABLE!

Lemonade Makin' Mama said...

I think that is the absolute truth. I loved what you said about how people do tell the truth about everything now with an attitude like that. I have no idea why that is... What ever happened to truth in love? Emphasis on "LOVE"...

I try for honesty in all things, (Sometimes I spin it with a little drama) but it's still honest.

Lee Beth said...

Laughing. I think I got what you said. Brains wracked, but I think it makes sense in a way. People that will tell the truth, in a way its not sincerely to be honest but to be 'in the clear'? Did I get it? lol. I suppose there are people out there like that. I think it is always best to be honest, though. (I can totally understand how the phrase would have you thinking.) I just hope that the answer isn't yes.

donahugh43 said...

Love the picture. Can i have one. The music is wonderful. You make me think. HaHa

denise said...

Your post definitely made me think. I think our culture values self expression far more than self restraint. It reminds me of Proverbs 10:19, which says, "When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise."

Ave said...

Aaww, your boy is so so cute!

Helen McGinn said...

They say sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but I'm not sure; sarcasm is the Scottish way, possibly the British way in a scathing-but-sincere-way...we use it every day, even with our children..."yes, Kelly, that's EXACTLY how I wanted you to clean your room, here, here is your "I'm-the-best-room-cleaner-in-the-world-award" deserve it, you really DO!". This, when her room hasn't been touched. This comes naturally to me and the kids find it hilarious and are getting quite good at it themselves. But occasionally, they get slightly upset and I get confused and apologise. I now monitor what I say as sarcasm and kids don't really mix. My Canadian friend who came to live here for a while didn't get it; it was the cultural difference. She'd get quietly upset with someone and we'd all feel bad because it was never intended. We shrug it off and come back with our own killer comment each and every time.
I'd also like to think there is cultural sincerity in our genetic make-up. Hmm. So now I'm going to go away and think about this some more too as I'm probably thinking out loud and not making much sense. Love the wee baby pic...gorgeous. xx

Erin Dori said...

I can see what you're getting out. I think in a way that because of all this "honesty without sincerity" that's going on that it's resulting in a twisted perception of what is okay to say and what isn't. Like others above have mentioned, you could say something completely rude and hurtful to someone but hide behind the "I'm just being Honest" curtain instead of taking responsibility for their words and actions. I find it very exhausting to be around people who do that kind of stuff on a frequent basis.