I’ve been in a few conversations recently where a lot of arguing and anger broke out because people were trying to be sarcastically funny, but no one got it.

Many of us — me included — tend to use sarcasm as a verbal resource and there’s nothing wrong with that — in conversation. Real conversation. From my mouth to your ears. And it works best when you are talking to someone you know who can tell by your tone of voice that you’re not seriously saying whatever it is you are saying.

May I suggest to everyone if we are talking about serious stuff — especially politics when everyone is edgy anyway — we might speak directly and avoid sarcasm? In online conversations, sarcasm is frequently misunderstood. Instead of humor, it creates anxiety and as often as not, anger. Unless you know the author and are sure he or she is going to “get it,” say what you mean. Leave the irony and sarcasm for personal interchanges with people who really know you and your voice. Until they invent that “sarcasm font” we all urgently need, we will all make more sense to one another if we say what we mean as simply and clearly as we can.

I’m not suggesting you can’t write satiric or sarcastic material — that would take all the fun out of it. More like in comments and especially on places like Facebook where no one knows anyone very well and total strangers can come and poke their noses into your conversation. I hate accidental wars.

There’s a lot of rage going around. None of us are immune to it. That includes me. I try to make sure I understand what someone is trying to say before I flip out, but … we’ve all got tempers. More than a few of us are like loads of emotional dynamite.

Let’s try not to be the ones holding a lit match!


  1. dancingpalmtrees December 17, 2017 / 7:26 am

    I avoid any Facebook conversations on race, religion and politics. In the years I’ve been on FB I found some ugly truths about people I thought I knew. The Unfriend and Block button come in handy. I even took a break from my writing blog. There are some sick people on WordPress also.

    Sexual harassment is another hot button topic.
    Those are discussions to avoid since it’s an invitation to an argument.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Marilyn Armstrong December 17, 2017 / 2:13 pm

      Lately, too many discussions have turned into fights because someone was trying to be funny and it didn’t make anyone laugh. Last night, I finally realized that sometimes, maybe it’s the wrong moment for laughing!


      • dancingpalmtrees December 17, 2017 / 2:19 pm

        True. I try to keep my Facebook posts to my Photography. Anything else becomes a problem.


        • Marilyn Armstrong December 17, 2017 / 2:32 pm

          I also post very little on Facebook, but every now and then, I get caught up in what seems to be a reasonably intelligent conversation … which turns into a crazy fight — but everyone is AGREEING. They just didn’t understand each other. Right now, the world is more than a little crazy. Perhaps speaking plainly would help at least some of the time. If we are going to fight, at least let’s make sure that’s what we are intending!


  2. judyt54 December 17, 2017 / 7:31 am

    I have only, in 20 years of internet communication, known one person who could write sarcasm and have it come across exactly the way he intended. It’s a verbal, out-loud kinda thing, the way a raised eyebrow is visual but just doesn’t come across in text…
    the rest of us have to pick our way through the minefields and broken glass of other people’s comments.

    I know a few people who, recognizing the dilemma, will actually say “””, and now and then we can resort to italics to get the point across. Straight text just doesn’t cut it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Marilyn Armstrong December 17, 2017 / 2:15 pm

      Garry gets himself into trouble a LOT because he is compelled to say stuff that makes everyone who doesn’t know him REALLY REALLY MAD. I keep telling him, but he has NO self control at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. judyt54 December 17, 2017 / 7:33 am

    whoops, that was supposed to be “caret sarcasm caret” “caret slash sarcasm caret” but I guess WP has a problem with that, . sorry…


    • Marilyn Armstrong December 17, 2017 / 2:16 pm

      I sort of followed it anyway. You should try reading something from my granddaughter! It’s not even English anymore!


  4. Gordon C. Stewart December 17, 2017 / 7:46 am

    Thank you for this, Marilyn. Ouch! Sarcasm is one of my “go to” modes of communication. I needed this piece to remember the difference between online and front porch conversations. As always, you’re good!


    • Marilyn Armstrong December 17, 2017 / 2:17 pm

      It is mine and Garry’s “go to mode” too … but it only works when everyone knows everyone else well enough to recognize that “this person can’t mean THAT, so it most be humor.” It’s not that we can’t be humorous, but we can’t do it everywhere or all the time … and in some situations, it really isn’t appropriate. Try telling that to Garry!


  5. Tish Farrell December 17, 2017 / 8:57 am

    Wisely said. It’s amazing how quickly things can turn v. nasty.


    • Marilyn Armstrong December 17, 2017 / 2:20 pm

      The last few days, there have been a lot of exploding heads, especially on FB and I realized that most of them were misunderstandings. We have enough problems conversing at all, much less failing to get the irony in the words. I thought “Hmm. Everyone is mad and NO ONE is laughing. Maybe we need to do something different here. Hmm.”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. trentpmcd December 17, 2017 / 8:59 am

    I’ll admit to being totally misunderstood more than once. And that was just in the last two days. I’ll also admit that a lot of people have a hard understanding my humor in “real life” as well, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t get me online….


    • Marilyn Armstrong December 17, 2017 / 2:21 pm

      You know, if you are really well acquainted, people usually get you. But when it’s a bunch of people back and forthing and no one know anyone, not really … you get a lot of exploding heads. The world is a pretty explosive, angry place these days. Maybe it would be healthier to not try to be inside outside funny — at least till most people calm down.

      Liked by 1 person

      • trentpmcd December 17, 2017 / 3:12 pm

        Yeah, I know. I was thinking past coworkers who would just look at me with blank stares. These days I am pretty careful about not starting too many wars.


  7. eloquentparadise December 17, 2017 / 9:47 am

    Sarcasm is indeed misunderstood often times than not. We should definitely avoid it online. Liked the article!


    • Marilyn Armstrong December 17, 2017 / 2:22 pm

      Well, I’ve been watching people blowing up at each other then trying to straighten it out because someone was being sarcastic — and NO ONE got it. Or at least, maybe we should pick and choose WHEN to use irony!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. cordeliasmom2012 December 17, 2017 / 10:34 am

    I hear you, Marilyn. Recently, a friend posted a picture on Facebook of a Walmart greeter saying something like, “Get your stuff and get the hell out.” I jokingly (I thought), commented that would be a perfect job for me! Unfortunately, I didn’t know the rest of my friend’s friends, and one took umbrage, apparently believing my comment was an actual statement of my intent. Rather than start a comments war, I just let the chain end – I mean, there really was nothing more I could say if people didn’t realize my original comment was meant to be humorous.


    • Marilyn Armstrong December 17, 2017 / 2:24 pm

      Sometimes, I type at the top of a post: THIS IS A JOKE. DO NOT TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. IT IS A JOKE.
      Even that doesn’t always work.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. loisajay December 17, 2017 / 12:16 pm

    I love sarcasm, but it doesn’t read well at all. You are right–we do need a sarcasm font….or else save it for ‘in person.’ Some things just don’t travel well.


    • Marilyn Armstrong December 17, 2017 / 2:26 pm

      I think it depends on who you are trying to talk to. If it’s all you own crew and they know you and how you roll, verbally so to speak, it’s one thing. But there are these group discussion where you really DON’T know anyone and taking umbrage is pretty much what everyone does. At almost anything. We are tiptoeing through an emotional minefield these days.


  10. Covert Novelist December 17, 2017 / 12:32 pm

    It’s so true, when you come to know someone well, you understand their train of thought and can ferret out the scarcasm and inuendo and you get it, but if you don’t know them well enough, it can create issues, especially on social media. “tongue in cheek” You are so right, we need a sarcasm font! lol I love that idea.


    • Marilyn Armstrong December 17, 2017 / 2:27 pm

      The sarcasm font has been a long time waiting. There has got to be a way to express “humor in text” because I’ve watched a whole bunch of arguments break out between people who were AGREEING with each other.


      • Covert Novelist December 17, 2017 / 2:59 pm

        OMG that’s pretty funny, I have to say. I know what you mean though, I’ve also witnessed it first hand. I couldn’t help but chuckle.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. swo8 December 17, 2017 / 3:04 pm

    Very good advice, Marilyn. I think our skin is getting rather thin.


    • Marilyn Armstrong December 17, 2017 / 3:17 pm

      Probably with good reason. But so is everyone else’s so maybe it’s wise to tread carefully.

      Liked by 1 person

      • swo8 December 17, 2017 / 4:40 pm

        again good advice….


  12. fromsandyknob December 17, 2017 / 4:49 pm

    Was going to post an old Scandinavian phrase, but waited too long. Now can’t remember it.. LOL Something like: “Really now…”


  13. fromsandyknob December 17, 2017 / 4:52 pm


    Liked by 2 people

  14. omniclassic December 17, 2017 / 7:00 pm

    This is why I much prefer “face to face” conversation as snarky remarks can easily be understood in the spirit they are given.., tongue firmly in cheek. So, yes where is that “sarcasm font?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn Armstrong December 17, 2017 / 8:25 pm

      Don’t know any working font designers, but someone should definitely do this one and distribute it to everyone everywhere!


  15. usfman December 18, 2017 / 7:37 pm

    I agree. Negative humor can be frequently misunderstood. Why chance alienating yourself from others in this way.


    • Marilyn Armstrong December 18, 2017 / 9:05 pm

      The problem always remains that sarcasm is vocal, so it’s very hard to make it read properly on a page. If I’m writing and entirely funny piece, I can pull it off sometimes … but not in comments and definitely not on Facebook.


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