… Though you probably already know that, if you’ve been called a “smart a**” as many times as I have. What I’m pretty sure everyone who’s ever called me that hasn’t known? The “smart” part is definitely right, and scientists are starting to prove it.
The Smithsonian Mag has a great article about it, actually. In this study, scientists found that the sort of wordplay involved in sarcasm is not only a sign of intelligence (saying one thing and meaning another), but a means to practice at becoming more intelligent. Identifying sarcasm requires some pretty serious mental gymnastics that the average mind just isn’t prepared to handle.
Sarcasm is, essentially, a way of thinking about and verbalizing things which possess more than a simple literal meaning. For one who can understand sarcasm, it’s a puzzle-solving game: What is actually meant by the words, given the tone of voice and facial expression as well?
As we continue to practice at being sarcastic, or mental muscles bulk up. In the same way as physical exercise contributes to a greater ability to perform a task (running more makes you a better runner), exercising your sarcasm on a regular basis expands your brain’s circuitry, making for even more possibilities in your thinking.
Understanding sarcasm requires a two-part process: Not only understanding the scenario that’s playing out in front of you, but also the aspects of it that might be missing. It’s in the play off of these missing parts that our brain makes more, and more powerful, connections.
The downside? Highly sarcastic people also tend to score higher on measures of aggression. So while you might be quick to want to unleash your sarcasm on every unwitting bystander, keep this in mind: Balance in everything triumphs. No one likes a know-it-all, and this applies equally as well to sarcasm.
I’ll always appreciate sarcasm for its delicate and intricate word-play. However, there’s a fine line — and it’s not worth being sarcastic at the cost of alienating you from the community around you. After all, they say that “1 is the loneliest number”.
This article inspired by one found hereo