Sarcasm
and why it can be a problem

At the Free to Be conference I was asked about why or how I stopped being sarcastic. I told why, but didn't expand much or enough, and the next day Caren Knox (also a presenter at that conference) posted something wonderful about it:

Caren Knox:
Someone asked in one of Sandra's talks about sarcasm, and why a sarcastic attitude and joking might be harmful.

For me, it comes down to whether or not I can trust the words coming out of a person's mouth. Sarcasm isn't (qualifier: most often isn't) honest. It's often the opposite of the truth. Dad puts bikes away after finding them in the driveway. Mom asks later, "Oh, did you put the bikes away? I saw they weren't in the driveway." Dad, who thinks the kids should have put the bikes away, and is frustrated with things at work and tired: "No-o-o-o. The bike fairy must have done it, like the kids obviously think happens."

It isn't true. And it's hurtful. And it indicates some things left unsaid.

(There are lots of considerations in that scenario, but I'm focusing on the sarcasm part for now.)

Any amount of untrue words you say erodes trust. It's not an equivalent ratio: if you speak untruthfully 7% of the time, people don't trust you 93%; they will likely trust you close to zero.

Trust is a vital foundation to building an unschooling home. If kids can't trust that what their parents are saying is true, their foundation is shaky, perilous. That affects their ability to learn, and harms the relationship they have with the world (and their parents).

Why bring a negative force into the home?

If you're used to sarcasm and other lying, it might take practice to learn to speak honestly. It can feel vulnerable and risky. It is worth it. You'll soon be able to feel if what you are about to say is true - really true - and you'll develop the ability to stop, breathe, and change what you're saying if needed.

I was thinking about this, because in another of Sandra's talks she said that a step above thoughts of suicide isn't enough. That if you're depressed or tend toward depression, seek help and shift your thinking and step away from negativity until (she did not put it this way, it's how I saw it) your life is sparkly. More than just-not-suicidal.

This conference is one of a few places I have shared about living with depression and anxiety. It has been important for me to feel my own true way out of it, and because people care and want to be helpful, if I shared about it more openly, I would get many unsolicited ideas and tips and recommendations - even if I said I don't want those things. I can get overwhelmed easily, and I didn't want to muddy my thinking and way-seeking, so I've spoken (or written) in only a few places about it.

I am not suicidal at all, and am many steps away from that, but... my life has not been sparkly. I spoke about how practicing mindfulness and meditation has brought some light into my darkness, as has focusing on positivity and good, so currently, living with my depression is very much better than it has been at other times.

I'm seeking other help because a dear friend in Charlotte, after hearing me talk about how it's not debilitating, said, "Oh, I so wish for so much more for you."

Oh. Maybe I can wish for more for me, too. So I've been seeking other avenues out. Or, a road, or even a small path, a single step. Out.

And when Sandra said there are levels of depression, and just better than very down isn't good enough for an unschooling home, it renewed my determination to get even better. You know why?

Because Sandra Dodd is honest. The words that come out of her mouth are true. In my experience, over many years of reading her words and listening to her talks, they are true 100% of the time. Maybe, on an off day or if she's tired or frustrated, she might be sarcastic. I've never experienced that. (and I say that only because I presume she's human and sometimes isn't perfect) And because she's honest, I trust her.

So all this was swirling in my head, and now it's out, and I can go back to sleep. It's both a warning against sarcasm and dishonesty, and an appreciation for Sandra.

—Caren Knox
9/4/17
Note from Sandra: I was going to leave out the mushy stuff about me, but it turned out not to be in its own separate paragraphs. But I saved it for Caren's clarity about sarcasm. There is a link at the bottom of the page to several pages on mental health, and unschooling.

From the page on negativy; Sandra's writing:
But as with any accounting (think a bank account), withdrawals deplete your reserves. Every negative word, thought or deed takes peace and positivity out of your account. Cynicism, sarcasm—which some people enjoy and defend—are costly, if your goal is peace.
Negativity, near the bottom, in the section called "Happier and More Positive"


Partners (directory page) How Words Affect Thought, Belief and Action Mental Health