Friday, December 19, 2014

Sarcastic Nation

 Television tells us that insults and sarcasm are the norm.

Most people watch a lot of TeeVee.  If you don't watch TeeVee, the behavior of others may puzzle you.

For example, extreme sarcasm and insult humor are the staples of the TeeVee sit-com.   And talking trash behind someone's back is the staple of the "reality TeeVee" phenomenon.

So what do you expect heavy TeeVee watchers to do?   Exactly.

So you see Mrs. Jones, and the first thing out of her mouth, is "What's up with that hat?  Were they having an ugly sale at the Goodwill?" and you wonder what you did to piss her off.

But she lives in TeeVee world, and in TeeVee world, the audience laughs uproariously at this comment.  "Haw, Haw, Haw!"

So you get through the "pleasantries" which amounts to an exchange of insults.   And I've learned the hard way, with people like this, that if you are actually nice to them, they fell insulted.

Save being "nice" for the "heartwarming episode" - the only place on TeeVee where people are actually civil to each other.  Grampa is in a coma, and the whole family comes together and learns a valuable lesson about... whatever.  Next week, on an all-new special "Blossom"!

Now, on to the dirt!   They've insulted your appearance, the clothes you wear, and the state of your housekeeping.   Let's talk trash about people who aren't here!

Yes, this is what passes for conversation among the plebes.

And in a way, it is kind of "safe" - this kind of superficial trash-talk.   Why?  Because you are really not saying anything at all.  You are just making bad jokes and being sarcastic about everyone.  But nothing of real importance gets said.

When you try to discuss something seriously, everyone gets uncomfortable.  This isn't in the script!  Well, maybe once a year, when the series does an "issues" show.   But there is a time and a place for that!

It is possible we can move beyond this sitcom mentality?  I am beginning to think not.  Insult humor has become more popular than ever before, and it seems like the "social media" only encourages this sort of trash talk.

I suppose it is all just harmless fun and all.   But why is being nice to other people viewed as a bad thing?