Sad Lesson of the Day

Today, Chris Brogan helped me learn a hard lesson:

Sarcasm is a powerful communication tool, possibly the most powerful.

Spending a lot of time in front of a computer is a waste of time. Coming up with something to say every day is such a waste. Making audio and video podcasts is tough, costs too much to do right, and who’s going to bother listening or watching anyway? Spending time on Facebook is stupid. It’s really just for college kids, and you’re creepy for being there. Why bother with Twitter? Like anyone wants to know what I ate for lunch yesterday. This is all a stupid fad, and we’re going to be laughing about it in a few years…

Chris is one of those bloggers whose posts are just the beginning — he’s as interested in the discussion in the comments as he is in sharing his thoughts (maybe even more so). That is to say, he always invokes a lot of comments. But this short sarcastic post, earned him the most comments in 1/2 hour on his blog.

I’m very happy for him, but I’m also troubled by the power of sarcasm. Especially since I’m trying to uncover the power of love. Maybe, to engage the culture more authentically, love will have to take a more sarcastic tone? Do people need a cynic to speak the truth, to evoke change, to challenge corruption?

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  • I think that it’s in response to some negativity that he rec’d & responded very professional to. Chris is very generous with his time & I don’t think anyone has the right to belittle those efforts.

  • Connie, I don’t mean to belittle Chris’ efforts at all. Chris is one of the most generous people I know, and he has taught me more in that last eight months than I could ever explain.

    I’m not intending to critique his post, as much as trying to understand why it is that the masses seem to react so strongly and quickly to sarcasm. I’ve seen this in my own life, in response to my own writing as well.

  • I didn’t write enough words. I wasn’t implying that you were belittling him. I meant that the other person who had commented (in a not too positive manner) about his euphemisms was belittling him. I just had a problem with that guy’s whole blog post & the tone.

    Chris may be blogging in regard to that or maybe not? who’s to know? I do think thought that even superstars need upliftinging! And of course who wouldn’t be happy if they recd’ record # of comments in a half hour. That’s a fabulous response (especially if he’s making a statement).

    And you’re welcome to your opinions too. 🙂 It’s all in perception. I think Chris is just thinking again & coming from a sarcastic point of view. I just got my job due to my online presence too – and so I’m totally in agreement with that post – and yes there are critics – but Chris is bigger than they are & always will be.

  • Whew, I was afraid you thought I was attacking Chris. And I hadn’t seen that other post, so that really helped give me some more context. I still wonder why, in general, people respond so strongly to cynicism. But it’s exciting to think that the majority of their response is support and encouragement.

    I still have so much to learn! Thanks for being my teacher Connie.

  • I had to pop in this morning. First I checked Chris’ post. Go check out that person’s comment on Chris’ post… so I think I’m on track with my analysis.

    Being an optimist is easy for me (& it’s infective). The world is a good place we just have some people who like to be negative. The rest of us need to just stand up & smile. 🙂 They will get the idea… in time.

  • That’ s very interesting thought. It seems as though our sinful natures are prone to sarcasm. As a teacher, I’m always encouraging positive responses and interactions between students. I know that sarcasm, used carefully, can really engage their minds in a classroom discussion and drive them to question and ponder a controversial topic. How do you propose to use sarcasm to share love? That’d be a fun thing to discuss and test out.

  • Is it a sin to be sarcastic?

    I know it can be harmful when used abusively, but so can sex, and food, and truth. So, I think I would have to include sarcasm in the list of ‘things to be used appropriately’ where ‘things to be used appropriately’ = everything.

    We already know that sarcasm is a powerful tool to evoke change and challenge injustice. If we are going to speak the language of the land (Paul speaking philosophically to the Athenians in the Areopagus comes to mind) then we might need to learn how to use sarcasm wisely.

    I’m drafting up a post specifically dealing with this. So, keep watch.

  • Kim

    Is speaking the truth in love equal to sarcasm? Can we still get our points across without using sarcasm? I don’t think Jesus was sarcastic–he was forward and truthful. Many times sarcasm is used to cover up truthful feelings. Sarcasm is also a way to hide anger. Just some thought I have about it. I know points can get across when using sarcasm but we can also get the point across using other language as well. And when sarcasm is used, there are times when the other person may just not know if you are being “truthful” or “sarcastic” so wouldn’t it be better to use truthful words rather than hiding behind sarcasm?

    I have never been one to like sarcasm. For one thing it can be aggressive instead of direct language. There is a big difference. Two, I have never really heard sarcasm in a loving way.

  • I frame many of my beliefs with a ridiculous “country music” analogy that I think I’ve tried to explain to dydimustk before.

    I’m not a country music person. I really enjoy the Dixie Chicks.
    I’m not a religious person. I really enjoy reading this blog.

    I can do without most forms of sarcasm in this world, but I’m wildly fascinated with Jon Stewart.

    There’s a common element of authenticity and passion that sets quality aside and makes it stand out.

    I may have a bit too much “Made to Stick” on my mind, but the “unexpectedness” of me finding religion through the screen of a MacBook Pro strengthens the message by creating an extreme violation of my schema of religion.

    My world is education and my lens is technology. I’m very, very scared about what “my” institution is turning into, while at the same time passionately excited about the lens through which I see it down the road. Learning is going to be fundamentally different 10 years out.

    The same script is playing out for other institutions as well. Music. Video. Photography. Libraries. Gaming.

    And probably religion. Though I have some serious learning ahead of me on that front.

    Thanks for teaching.