Sarcasm and Proportion

snobgoose I was lying in bed this morning thinking about getting older. (As one does.) Which led me to think about proportion.

Once I hit 30, I began to have a standard response to all sorts of things. It’s encapsulated in one word, largely rhetorical, said with varying degrees of sarcasm or wonder.

“Seriously?”

You seriously believe Fox is real news?
You’re seriously going to do this in a grocery store aisle?
You seriously think you have the right to touch me without my consent?
You seriously think I care enough to be insulted by your opinion of me?
Does he seriously think I can’t tell when he’s lying?
Does he seriously think anyone believes the corporate doublespeak?
Does she seriously think I don’t remember what she did?
Seriously? Really?

This sense of proportion didn’t happen overnight, of course. It took the divorce, therapy, and a couple other things to get me to a place where I could look at someone’s behaviour and think “Really? This is what you’re going to do in this situation? Really?”

Often, it pulls other people up short. When I am charitable I like to think that they just didn’t realize how ridonkulous their behaviour is, and when I am busy it gives me a means to disengage and stop wasting my energy on situations that just aren’t going to get any better even with my attention or intervention. When I am cranky, feeling vulnerable, or just plain irritated, it gives me a defense against people who mistake my politeness or patience for weakness, and think they can take advantage of either.

I realize Urban Dictionary has an entry for this little word, and that it’s one of my more annoying vocal tics. But for someone raised to believe the only faint worth she had was in serving and rescuing other people, just the mere act of judging something to be so incredibly ridiculous that it’s not worth the time or emotional energy is pretty goddamn revolutionary.

Of course, the part where it’s most useful is when I look at myself and go “Really, Lili? Seriously?”

You’re seriously going to care what that nasty old man has to say?
You’re seriously going to kill yourself for this unreasonable deadline because someone else fucked up?
You’re seriously going to think that maybe someone reading your diary is a forgivable offense?
You’re seriously thinking you should rescue that perpetual-crisis person?
You’re seriously going to worry about this at 3am?

Apparently the anti-anxiety meds, as a side-effect, allowed me to take my natural sarcasm and use it to give myself a healthier sense of proportion. Nothing in the literature prepared me for that. *snork*

There is (dare I speak of it?) something even more powerful. Tomorrow I’m going to tell you about the best phrase ever, It Makes Me Tired.

to be continued

  • Jake

    It’s amazing how life will teach you things, providing only that you survive the teaching.

    Seriously. Really, even.

  • The wisdom that comes with experience! Nice post.

  • Vincent

    I’m going through a very similar transition. I remember reaching a point where I realized that I no longer cared about what a certain person did and I simply wouldn’t get upset at her outrageous behavior. It shocked the hell out of me. It was such a strange relief.

    I hadn’t thought of using sarcasm on myself. At least not consciously. I think I’ll give it a try.

  • “Seriously?,” “It makes me tired,” and “Bored now” have come to be some of my most-used weapons in the ongoing battle against bullshit. Maybe there’s something to be said for this age thing after all. I’d a thousand times rather be sarcastic than anxious.

  • skylacameron

    I think this is A Thing indeed; I’m thirty-one and apparently right on track with it. More and more the things that used to stress me out are getting merely an eyebrow-raise and wryly amused, “Really?” before I got back to whatever else I was doing before.

  • Kristina L.

    I usually don’t post replies because there’s someone else who has said what I would have said myself, or because I am mulling over what you’ve had to say in your blog. That said, I do read and enjoy your blog throughout the week, so thank you for putting it out here on the internet.

    As for the topic at hand…yes, I’ve found myself using sarcasm more and more often when coworkers present me with their never-ending crises. “Really?” and “Seriously?” have been with me for quite some time, but when I bring out the “Oh, really?” that means the fangs and claws are coming out.

    Also, the image for your post brings to mind the meme with the “Awwww yissss, breadsticks!” ducks.

  • Dakini

    I think it is ace that you seem to look at aging in terms of the potentially wisdom that can be unleashed rather than viewing the process as ‘bad’. I’m a bit of a shocker with that one.

  • Childhood was so awful that the further away I am from it, the better.