ON Broadcast Blog

“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit…”

“…and the highest form of intelligence”. Or so they say. What I don’t understand is why the end of this quote has been lost in translation. It seems that people are so scared of a little “banter” (I genuinely hate that word, so apologies… but if the shoe fits).

I think many a workplace would be dull to the core, if not injected with a little mockery. Our office is fuelled by it – and I love the vibe it brings. It‘s a fantastic way to keep you on your toes, and – used correctly – serves as a reminder that the problem you’re facing is not a matter of life and death, there are ways to survive.

Well-meaning sarcasm has the power to lighten-up a busy day; which is very rare in our wonderfully robotic society. PR revolves around the art of talking and communicating effectively, however, people are often so conscious of constantly maintaining a certain level of appropriateness that they let the opportunity for light-hearted cynical jokes slip away from them. I find this especially true on email.

The British are amazing at injecting sarcasm into their daily conversations – just think about how many fans James Blunt has won from his hysterical retorts on twitter. Personally, I feel that this skill is something we should be shouting about from the rooftops, and have a stamp on our passports to prove it – warning others that we’re coming, armed with our well-meant ridicule.

Conversations are always a funny time for me in countries that don’t embrace friendly derision like we do. In America, for example, some simply don’t get it and just stare back at me, working out whether they should cry or fake laugh. This can be a slight problem on reflection, but I wouldn’t spend all day crying about it.

And there is even some science behind it, albeit from a biased place “understanding sarcasm requires social intelligence lacking in people who’ve suffered damage to a section of the right brain known as the parahippocampal gyrus.”

To leave you with a final thought… if next time you write me an email, or give me a call – please don’t think about using sarcasm, it really is the lowest form of wit :/


Rachel Allison, PR Consultant at ON
Published 30th March 2015


Image courtesy of Luiza P.

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