No, really. I have a speech impediment. I've talked this way all my life.
May 26, 2009 8:22 AM   Subscribe

I would like to stop using sarcasm and snark, entirely, in any form.

The reasoning isn't complicated--I just find it to be more trouble than it's worth in the long run.

So I'm thinking that there are at least a couple ways I could work on this: trying to change the behavior itself (catching myself before I say/type something I'd rather not) and trying to change the underlying attitude. I'm looking for any and all advice in regards to either. This could relate either directly towards sarcasm or more generally to the practice of changing one's outwards actions or inwards mindset.

posted by 2or3whiskeysodas to Human Relations (36 answers total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
It's not exactly the same thing, but I am working on not saying anything about a person that I wouldn't say to their face. It allows for careful criticism while disallowing snarky shit talking.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:25 AM on May 26, 2009 [5 favorites]

I think any number of cognitive behavior therapies would be appropriate here. For instance, learning to identify negative thinking patterns and counter them has proven to be an effective treatment for depression. I believe it would be just as effective in stamping out habitual put-downs of other people as well as yourself.

Train yourself by simply writing down negative thoughts you are having about a person, then answering them yourself:

"Jane is such a phony. She thinks she's all that, but some days she barely knows what she's doing. I hope they fire her before I show up at work with an Uzi."

"Jane may not be a perfect co-worker, but she is diligent and reliable. She just seems to have problems working on her own. Maybe I could make sure she knows what not to do before she gets both of us in trouble again."

posted by dhartung at 8:32 AM on May 26, 2009

The basic tenets of CBT might be useful: when the urge to snark comes along, analyse the thought process and see where it's coming from. Treat snark as a byproduct of something else. Similarly, you could look at the Buddhist approach towards situational mindfulness and "right speech". But the behaviour and the attitude ought to be seen as a continuum.
posted by holgate at 8:42 AM on May 26, 2009 [5 favorites]

It sounds like you want to start speaking out of sincerity. If you've used snark or sarcasm as a way to avoid disclosing what you actually think or feel in the past, you'll have to really get in touch with your likes, dislikes, loves, passions, (all that gooey stuff) in order to express yourself in a new way.

I think sincerity is underrated. Meeting people who are able to articulate themselves, honestly, truthfully, without relying on sarcasm or snark to buoy themselves is always charming. At least to me.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 8:47 AM on May 26, 2009 [6 favorites]

The Four Agreements helped me be more mindful of my sarcasm and shit talking. Now sarcasm doesn't appeal to me much anymore and I tire of being in the company of those who use it. Having said that, when someone does something exceptionally stupid, I don't think it's fair or reasonable of that person to expect me not to say something cutting or sarcastic (behind their back, of course).
posted by HotPatatta at 8:48 AM on May 26, 2009

Best answer: I believe that changing the attitude is the most important priority in the long run; avoiding casual cruelty, so common in our age, is difficult unless you have an understanding of it. I call it casual cruelty because that's what it is: an albeit small way in which we hurt other people in order to get attention. We usually rationalize this in some childish way by saying that “if they can't take it, they should get off the internet,” or by trying to convince ourselves that the pain we're making others feel is a natural part of life that they should expect and be able to cope with. A serious human being has to avoid casual cruelties because it is to every single person's benefit when humans in general have less pain to deal with, and because the moral complications that come with being cruel to others (the concomitant guilt, the need to apologize, the harm that apologies do to a discussion, et cetera) tend to distract us from projects of real worth.
posted by koeselitz at 9:01 AM on May 26, 2009 [22 favorites]

The three principles of behavior modification: 1) Modify your environment, 2) Monitor your behavior, and 3) Make commitments. (From the book "Self-Help Without the Hype")

You can brainstorm your own ideas for applying these principles, but here's some that occur to me...
1) Modify your environment: Hang out more with friends that are not sarcastic.
2) Monitor your behavior: Make a table or chart where you track how many sarcastic comments you make everyday and how many you avoided, and track your daily progress.
3) Make commitments: Ask someone close to you to give you a fine anytime you say something sarcastic, or make yourself donate to an organization you don't like everytime you catch yourself saying something sarcastic.

Just come up with tactics that work for you, and turn it into a game. Just remember the three principles.
posted by Theloupgarou at 9:01 AM on May 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding "Right Speech." In my early twenties I was very into Buddhism and meditation, and it really did make a difference in the way I communicated. "Mindfulness" is a meaningless word at this point due to overuse, but when meditation is practiced correctly and seriously it can definitely help you stay out in front of your thoughts and emotions.

More practically, I was able to almost completely avoid gossip just by remaining silent when the conversation turned in that direction. The other thing is, just watch Obama at his press conferences or live interviews. Those "wells," and "umms" aren't because he doesn't know what to say, it's because he's organizing his thoughts into more effective speech. For him that often means "more boring," because he doesn't want to say anything controversial. But for you, that could mean "more thoughtful" or "more sincere."

You might find that, if you slow down, you have more control over your speech than you imagined.
posted by thebergfather at 9:03 AM on May 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

Consider the jolt you feel when you suddenly notice that, 'hey that little girl is running into the traffic'. Then she stops safely. Adrenaline flows for a while and you are primed to react with anger to about everything sudden that happens next.

I'd see sarcasm and snark to appear in a similar way: when you see something that is so obviously wrong and you feel you have to react somehow, but the suddenness makes the fight-or-flight -reactions to be first to present themselves. So you try to put some of that fight into words.

Calm down and think do you want to make a fight out of this situation. Is it any good for this situation? Does the other person learn from your attack? Just think anything that keeps you away from the quick display of wit until you don't feel fighty anymore. It shouldn't last long.

The point is that sarcasm and snark are in our culture acceptable releases and displays of aggression, and we're wired to be quick with aggression, quicker than with other emotions, so it kind of creeps out of your mouth before other emotions can evaluate the situation. Just recognize the anger and hold it until other emotions catch up.
posted by Free word order! at 9:08 AM on May 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

A Manifesto for the New Sincerity might be a good start if you haven't read it before. I've been working on this too, and find it easier to adopt a positive habit/line of thinking than to focus directly on eliminating the negative. The downside to changing this particular habit of a lifetime can be that people mistake the sincerity for particularly deadpan snark, which is no fun.
posted by carbide at 9:13 AM on May 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Having said that, when someone does something exceptionally stupid, I don't think it's fair or reasonable of that person to expect me not to say something cutting or sarcastic (behind their back, of course).

This is bad stance for someone intent on sincerity. However, if someone does something stupid or hurtful, there's no need to just take it. You can say, "That was really stupid!" or "That pissed me off!" Those aren't snarky or sarcastic statements -- they're honest.

Even better than "That pissed me off!" is a statement about what you'd like the other person to DO, e.g. "Please stop that*" That sort of statement can be responded to in an honest way, though maybe not in the way you'd like.

In general, if you stick to statements about how you feel and statements about what you'd like other people to do, you'll be on solid ground. Don't tell other people how to feel. And definitely don't tell them what they're thinking or feeling. Don't explain why they did what they did. Armchair psychology is the worst type of snark. It IS okay -- occasionally -- to ask someone if he did X because he was thinking or feeling Y. But it's only okay if you're ready to accept his answer as honest.

Fight suspected sarcasm in others with literalness: if someone says something ambiguous (that may or may not be sarcastic), either assume they mean what they said literally, or ask them to clarify (which is not the same as "calling them out," which assumes you already know their intent).

If it's extremely clear that someone is being sarcastic, then don't play along (by being sarcastic in retort), but also don't pretend you don't get their sarcasm (that would be passive-aggressive). Say something like, "I suspect you're being sarcastic, but if I take you literally for a moment..."

To many people, sarcasm is a sign of sophistication, so if you quit using it, they'll view you as a "yokel." Never mind them. Others -- those who are seeking genuine, openness and vulnerability -- will find you attractive.

One trick you can try. If you realized that you've been sarcastic to someone, apologize to him. You do owe him an apology, no matter what he's done, because sarcasm is impolite. When you apologize, make it extremely clear that you're apologizing ONLY for being sarcastic. "I'm still pissed off that you ate my lunch, but I should have just told you that instead of snarking at you. I'm sorry. Now, I'd like to get back to the subject at hand..."

If you do this enough, it will likely help you curtain the snark before it comes out of your mouth. Your brain will forecast the apology and try to save you from having to make it.
posted by grumblebee at 9:19 AM on May 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

Someone once told me that for every negative thought about someone they made themselves think 3 sincere positive ones. My version of it is to think about something equally irritating or dumb that I've done (or keep doing). Either of these habits becomes lightning-quick and it's helped me to at least not voice the snark.

There is also a philosophy that you aren't responsible for your first thought- just the subsequent ones.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:21 AM on May 26, 2009 [4 favorites]

I have been working on this for about 18 months now. I soon realized how much of my communication was sarcasm and snark, and realized that a lot of my thought patterns had developed around it. It was pretty difficult at first.

When I tackled the problem, I wasn't fully aware of why I was so sarcastic, so I went at it from the other end. If I caught myself being snarky, I would stop and think about why, what I wanted to accomplish, and what would be a non-sarcastic way to express the same thing. (Or whether I even wanted to express that particular idea.)

I was also surprised how easy it is to be funny without sarcasm. The sarcasm was probably never that funny to start with.
posted by agropyron at 9:29 AM on May 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

Having said that, when someone does something exceptionally stupid, I don't think it's fair or reasonable of that person to expect me not to say something cutting or sarcastic (behind their back, of course).

My advice is to aim for a world where you don't have a back channel to your speech and a front channel. No one wants to be thought police, but it's easier to not make snarky comments if you don't have a value system where you feel that people deserve to get cut down or made fun of. I agree with this general principle in that people can't expect others to do ... well pretty much anything, but if you want to live in a society or even a peer group where sarcasm, belittling and other negative speech patterns aren't part of the discourse, you need to make them (in your own mind) verboten, not just situationally appropriate.

I don't expect people to not be sarcastic about me, but I expect people to be decent towards me and decent towards other people when they're around me.
posted by jessamyn at 9:49 AM on May 26, 2009 [4 favorites]

I agree with many of the posters above, especially re the concept of Mindfulness.

To generalize, snark and sarcasm tend to be conversation-stoppers - or they drive the conversation into negativity and/or competition.

What helps me the most is to ask myself what the goal of the interaction is. Am I trying to best the other person (at wit, omniscience, schadenfreude, 'told-you-so-ism', whatever)? Or am I trying to learn something I might not have known (about the other, the world, myself, whatever)?

That, and trying to remember that everyone is worthy. Everyone, even when you cannot for the life of you figure out how.
posted by widdershins at 9:58 AM on May 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

Just throwing something in because so many people post about "mindfulness" or similar concepts: consider speaking E-Prime for a while.

It encourages the close observation of your own speech and, very importantly, the separation of intrinsic attributes and external opinion. It would probably help you to recognize sarcastic remarks as you are about to make them since they often come in the form of statements using some form of the verb "to be".
posted by PontifexPrimus at 10:12 AM on May 26, 2009

Give people the benefit of doubt. Everyone has a different perspective that they can bring to whatever. Sometimes it's hard to see it, or expressed unclearly and that triggers a dismissive response. Fight that dismissive urge. That's part of what snark does - it dismisses someone as invalid and not worthwhile to the conversation. I agree with koeselitz's idea of casual cruelty and how it's ultimately a huge distraction from more important endeavors.

If you approach others with kindness, patience, be generous with their ability to express themselves, consider them - whoever they are - as worthwhile participants in the collective, diverse variety of life you will be surprised at what people have to offer.
posted by dog food sugar at 10:19 AM on May 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

def nth the one-talk channel take.
knowing that you'll never have to be 'caught' saying trashy stuff about someone is a sort of peace of mind that I don't quite know how people can do without.

as far as sarcasm goes, the same power (of observation, wit, etc) can be used to make jokes that are enjoyable to people, often even in response to the just the same things that tempt the snark.

also nth staying quiet when someone else is getting their snark on-- and same goes for chauvinist/racist/whiner/etc? talk. you may find that detaching like that feels really freeing.
posted by candyhammer at 10:35 AM on May 26, 2009

I have this problem. I don't verbally express my sarcasm as much but I'm always thinking sarcastic thoughts. I had (and still have to varying degrees) a habit of going around thinking most things are stupid. It's no way to live.

Sarcasm isn't about the other person. It's always about you. If you want to stop I'll suggest what a few others have said upthread and take a look in the mirror.

With all due respect to grumblebee (love him) this isn't about using the right language or talking to people the right way. It's about your need to build yourself up at another person's expense. If you would like to explore that, it's worth spending some time on.

The simplest way to stop is to think before you speak. You'll probably never evolve to a person that never has a sarcastic thought. It's okay to think it, just keep trying not to say it.
posted by Fairchild at 10:38 AM on May 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

I've been working on the same thing. I'm not especially snarky, but I do want to limit the negative things that cross my lips. I try to shrug (Gallic or just the shoulders) in lieu of saying something needlessly unpleasant. It's a bit like chewing gum as you quit smoking; the negative thought is still there, but I haven't polluted my listener with it.
posted by workerant at 10:52 AM on May 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Heh, seriously though, my 2 cents: enlist the help of those in your personal spheres - family, friends, work colleagues. Tell them openly and honestly what you want to do. Ask them to call you out on it if they overhear you doing it.

From time to time I try to eliminate certain words from my vocabulary ("obvious/obviously" being one of them, for example). Believe me, people will remember it when you tell them something like this, and they'll note it for you when you might not even notice what you're doing yourself, and they'll point it out ("I thought you said you were trying not to be sarcastic anymore..."). It takes a bit of humility to invite this kind of external judgment, but I guarantee it will help.

If you'd like, I'll gladly take a note to ask you about it if I ever see you snarking abouts here. :)
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:53 AM on May 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think sincerity is underrated. Meeting people who are able to articulate themselves, honestly, truthfully, without relying on sarcasm or snark to buoy themselves is always charming. At least to me.

I agree wholeheartedly. I find genuineness and authenticity in people irresistibly disarming and magnetic, and it saddens me that it seems to be so rare in our culture, because I think it makes the world a better place to live. I do think there's a place for sarcastic in-jokes in a healthy relationship or community - letting off steam and circumventing arguments with shared humor works quite well sometimes - but overall I think sarcasm is something that should be used sparingly, and with careful attention to appropriate context.

Fairchild makes a good point upthread: that sarcasm isn't so much about the other person; it's about you and your need to build yourself up at someone else's expense.

I would suggest that, whenever you're feeling snarky, you pause and take note of your underlying motives. What is your real intent when you feel the urge to say something sarcastic or snarky? Are you trying to be authentic and relate (know and be known), or are you trying to boost a fragile sense of self-esteem by getting one-up on someone? Do you fear that people won't like you if you told them what you really think? (I think almost everyone has this fear to a certain extent, but you needn't let it control your behavior).

In my experience, excessive use of sarcasm is a habitual way of protecting or distancing yourself from some kind of anxiety or fear. It's often driven by a need to avoid taking social risks, or to protect yourself from feelings of vulnerability by remaining in comfortable and safe territory. Hiding yourself and your real thoughts/feelings is one way to avoid feeling awkward. But keep in mind that it exacts a price: others will feel less free, honest, and spontaneous in your presence, and your relationships may suffer.

It's risky to expose your real thoughts and feelings to others without knowing how they will react; doing so takes courage. But I think it's worth it, because developing this kind of courage will pay off in the form of stronger connections with others, and a stronger sense of self.

I'm glad you posted this question. The world is overrun with snark, but sincerity is all too scarce. Hope this is helpful.
posted by velvet winter at 12:59 PM on May 26, 2009 [13 favorites]

Take a moment to think before you talk. That should be sufficient, unless you're terminally bitter. You can be as snarky as you want to be in your head, so long as you don't say it out loud, and taking a moment before you talk has many other benefits as well.
posted by davejay at 1:39 PM on May 26, 2009

Emphasize being kind.
posted by theora55 at 1:55 PM on May 26, 2009

I learned to quit speaking with my oldest sister about my youngest sister by having my cell phone call my younger sister while my older sis and I were putting down her beliefs as we drove down the road. It was unbelievably painful -- talk about humility through humiliation. Gawd.

I forced myself to call her and hold myself to account, to apologize to her, to tell her that I was truly sorry -- and I truly was -- for my behavior, to tell her that I would not do it again. I've not been perfect on that score but never with other family members for sure. My youngest sister and I hold radically differing views on so many things, things which just seem so obvious to me. But her views seem just as obvious to her, of that I am certain, it's not like she's putting out some line of bs to light me up. We just hold different views, is all.

A lesson like that will go a long way in helping you achieve your goal, but I hope you don't have to attend that class.

It's just easy for me to be unkind, is all. It's nasty, it's hurtful to others, and it's hurtful to me. Marcus Aurelius said in one of his ruminations that we ought to hold our mind that we can at any time tell anyone what we are thinking, without shame or awkwardness. Now there's an ideal. No way I'll make that one. But maybe someday I'll be able to keep my cruelties on this side of my lips; I'm shooting for that.

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:18 PM on May 26, 2009

My wife and I wanted to swear less. We set up a system of fines. It worked quite well, but I got a handle on it and she didnt which vexed her.
I was in a bad mood this evening, and it cheered me up quite a bit to read all these contributions about people thinking about how to communicate better and reside in a more positive frame of consciousness. Thanks all.
posted by jcworth at 9:26 PM on May 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Think of it as making your communication more effective. You're no longer trying to encode hidden meanings into everything and making others have to analyze your words for what you were really trying to say. Instead, you're letting your "yes" be "yes" and your "no" be "no." It's a great exercise in saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

I think a good opposite of sarcasm is sincerity, so get in the habit of giving compliments, but not just for any old reason. Sarcasm makes it easy to snipe at things from afar, but it's more worthwhile to notice when things that really touch you.

This is something I've been working on for a while now with a lot of success. It's not to say that I'm trying to cut it out completely, but the longer I go without it, the less appetizing it gets.

Thank you for making civilization a better place.
posted by sambosambo at 3:25 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This was nice to wake up to. Thanks, all, for your thoughtful responses.

I don't have much to add to the conversation other than a couple of additional details. I'm becoming more and more of a "practicing" Buddhist over time and meditate (mindfulness of breath at the moment) as regularly as I can. Question, though, for holgate: are there specific practices you'd recommend for growing Right Speech?

Second, I guess I just want to clarify a little bit. What we're talking about here, which I might not have made clear, is snarky or sarcastic humor, as opposed to, like, aggressive or backhanded meanness. And I'm not an overly snarky or sarcastic dude. I don't consider it my primary communicative MO or anything. But when I do it, I'm good at it--I like being thought of as a funny guy and would like to continue being so...just without the "get a load of that guy" strain of humor.

I'm really glad I asked this question, this has been one of my favorite threads to read in a while.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 4:25 AM on May 27, 2009

I'm not really qualified to talk about specific practices, but I've found a lot of interesting stuff at audiodharma. The basic principles seem to dovetail with those of CBT, although the basic diagnosis -- that having a running MST3K commentary in your head is a kind of alienation -- treats such alienation is a particularly tenacious kind of attachment.

I am reminded of Thersites in Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, who brings a kind of cutting, sarcastic commentary to every scene he participates in, and remains on the sidelines, but he's nothing without the narrative to snark upon.

As far as practice is concerned, the desire to give everything a punchline is overrated. If snark comes to you, glance mentally at where it has come from, find the echo of the thought that chased that thought into the open, then let it go. You might not be the joker of the pack any more, but you also won't feel like its performing monkey.
posted by holgate at 7:09 AM on May 27, 2009

The problem with sarcasm, snark, and negative comments in general is they tend to set up a positive feedback loop that encourages you to continue that sort of behavior. There was a recentish This American Life or Radiolab episode (I can't remember which, but I think it was TAL) that discussed this and really opened my eyes to the issue. To summarize, there were a series of controlled studies concerning how various personality types affect group dynamics. Groups of strangers were assigned a task to complete and were subjected to an actor playing a specific role. One of the roles was the sarcastic/negative sort. One of the conclusions of the study (based on observation and interviews with the non-actors) was that while the sarcastic person tends to be well received during the interaction, after the fact everyone agrees that the sarcastic person isn't pleasant to be around. The positive reinforcement in response to sarcastic behavior seems to be more a result of being uncomfortable than actual approval.

This led me to think about my behavior and how it might be interpreted by the people around me. I'm trying to break this habit, but it hasn't been easy.
posted by ydant at 1:51 PM on May 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

In case I'm not the only person whose interest was piqued by ydant's description, I'm pretty sure that he's referring to the part of this episode in which Will Felps is interviewed.
posted by sculpin at 9:38 PM on May 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

In case I'm not the only person whose interest was piqued by ydant's description, I'm pretty sure that he's referring to the part of this episode in which Will Felps is interviewed.
That was exactly it. Thank you for finding that, sculpin. Now I'll have to re-listen to see if I remembered correctly.
posted by ydant at 5:14 AM on May 28, 2009

I had the same problem. What I did was slow down my reaction to a comment or situation or whatever was bringing up my snarky comment. I thought of it as putting up a mental filter. Anyway, I usually still made the comment to myself but not out loud. It's taken a long time, but I have mostly quit thinking/reacting that way. Now it's only something I do or say that usually gets snarked at and I'm working on that as well.
posted by deborah at 8:10 AM on May 28, 2009

I have this same problem, and have been mulling over posting pretty much this exact question the last month or so.

I find what Velver Winter wrote to be very insightful - I have had many relationships suffer because I habitually came up with the generally harmless but snarky answer to everything instead of an easy sincere one. Whenever I think back over a conversation that didn't go well, it usually ends with me pondering "why didn't I just give a sincere answer instead?"

It seems snark and sarcasm are so prevalent and reinforced through much of the humor seen in culture, popular or otherwise. To me, once I realized it was an issue, I saw that I had thoughtlessly conditioned myself into making it the default response when someone would ask a "dumb question" or generally cause some ire.

I see it now as a holdover from childhood, likely caused in part by some sort of social inferiority complex. It has turned many possible helpful and meaningful interactions with people into a series of jokes, which would give me an ego boost, but often at the expense of the other person, or the value of the conversation.

I have found when I am on mushrooms or some other psychedelic, I am almost overly sincere, with not a bit of snark to be found. Over many years of trips, I have found the many conversations I have with various people, from friends, family, random people I run into in the park, all gleam with a sense that we are both enjoying talking to each other. I do not get this feeling nearly as much sober, but do take this with a grain of salt as drugs tend to have profoundly distorting effects on perception. My honest belief is that there is something to this phenomenon, as I have observed it (while sober even!) in many a snarky, doped up friend.

Ultimately, I think that recognizing you have this character trait, and truly desiring to change it will effect the change you want to see. Best of luck in this endeavor; may you never more answer "time to get a watch" when asked the time, and may your future interactions with others be free some this insecurity. Cheers!
posted by Never Better at 9:40 PM on May 30, 2009

Wow, I love this question. I know I'm late to the thread party but I'm gonna add my experience:

In my first year at university I met a guy one of whose dicta was “mean what you say and say what you mean.” As someone who had developed a pretty thorough-going “sarcastic” personality throughout high school, the way he combined “not being sarcastic” with “not being stupid” kind of blew my mind.

So for a while I tried to do the same thing.

I learned that being sincere has its definite advantages. Instead of precluding the possibility of learning something new about the situation by intimidating everyone around you into an interpretational “party-line,” you will learn more about the people around you. Accumulatively, you'll learn more about people. You will always be learning, instead of constantly reinforcing your own snappy prejudices that you've learned can impress people but which, eventually in your life, with a broader range of experience, you will realize were parochial and stupid.

However, eventually, I also realized that to some extent, it just wasn't my personality to be “ultra sincere guy.” I'm not quite sure how or why this happened; I think all I can say is that I realized, like probably most of us realize, that not 100% of life's situations call for sincerity. I have since, dialectic-style, combined my high school sarcasm with my university-style sincerity into a more diverse personality within which I allow myself to instinctively be sarcastic or not as the situation and my feelings suggest.

For me anyway, I think this is probably the best way, because it helps me avoid scenes in which I might come off as the Homerpalooza teens who “don't even know if they're being sarcastic anymore” and also scenes where I might come off as “university dood who's totally realized that sarcasm is soo unenlightened.”

That's just me though. If you completely cut out all sarcasm and you find it's working really well for you in all situations, that is really awesome.

I have a friend of more recent times who is basically like this. He's not the least bit self-important or unfun, but he's never ever sarcastic or snarky. He is also basically a saint. He lends money to homeless people and he helps roommates who have been shitting all over his house for months move, and then he lends them money. I am not as saintly as him and so it makes sense that some measure of sarcasm still feels right for me. If you are a total saint, I sincerely wish you really good luck becoming more of one.

I guess my own take-home message has been: you can only become more who you already are. If 5% of your soul's real estate houses a snarky little homunculus-bitch, you will find it an uphill battle eradicating 100% of your personality's snark. If you're still into that full eradication for “moral” or other theoretical reasons though, I again wish you good luck with that hill.
posted by skwt at 1:39 PM on June 1, 2009

Also, and this is more along the lines of “changing the underlying attitude,” there's this to think about: your use of sarcasm and snark are both founded on your assumption that you are smarter than the object of your sarcasm/snark, yes? At present, this may be true. But, two things:

1. You will get smarter. If you have a good memory, it is very likely you will look back on sarcastic comments you have and cringe at how stupid you were.

2. The objects of your sarcasm will get smarter. At the time, maybe they will just be cowed your your terrible brilliance. But if they have a good memory, they will look back at their exchanges with you and remember you as not only an asshole but a stupid asshole.

These face-saving rationales are basically self-interested, but personally I find self-interest the best motivator for self-change.
posted by skwt at 1:54 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

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